Just seen Christopher Nolan’s film, Dunkirk. An impressive and gripping account of the evacuation of nearly 200,000 British troops from the beaches in 1940. 140,000 French and Belgian troops were also rescued.
Churchill, though, recognised that the campaign overall had been a ‘colossal military disaster’, with the British Expeditionary Force losing almost all its equipment as well as 66,000 men killed, wounded or captured.
One of the fascinating questions the film does not tackle is why Hitler made his rampaging army call a halt when the enemy appeared to be at his mercy. Was he concerned that in some parts of his force, half the tanks were now out of action?
Had he been shaken by a British counter-attack near Arras or did he believe that surely at some point, the French – supposedly Europe’s greatest military power – must have a serious counter-attack in them? Or was he convinced by Göring’s boast that the Luftwaffe could destroy the Allied forces on Dunkirk’s exposed beaches without any help from the army?
Whatever the reason, the result was ‘Dunkirk’.
For the full story see Britain’s 20 Worst Military Disasters. See also my post of 24 January 2012.