Today in History, May 26, 1940:
Operation Dynamo, or the Evacuation of the British Expeditionary Force from France at Dunkirk, begins.
The BEF had been sent to France after years of appeasement, when Hitler had invaded Poland in September of 1939.
On May 10th Germany invaded France, which, although considered the largest army in Europe, promptly folded like an old lawn chair.
The British, French and Belgian troops retreated to Dunkirk, where they faced certain defeat at the hands of the superior Nazi war machine.
The idea now was the evacuation across the English Channel, but the first day’s effort only saw the evacuation of 9,000 or so men. A call for assistance went out, and every Royal Navy vessel that could sail, every civilian yacht, fishing vessel and others that could sail for Dunkirk, did so. Mind you, they faced the said incredible power the Navy has.
In the end, 9 days later, more than 338,000 soldiers had been rescued; the best and brightest of the British armed forces that would be needed in the years to come.