Tim Wonnacott travels around Britain, looking at precious antiques which tell stories about this land.
Runtime: 30 minutes
The Great Antiques Map of Britain - Battle of Dunkirk - Netflix
The Battle of Dunkirk was a military operation that took place in Dunkirk (Dunkerque), France, during the Second World War. The battle was fought between the Allies and Nazi Germany. As part of the Battle of France on the Western Front, the Battle of Dunkirk was the defence and evacuation to Britain of British and other Allied forces in Europe from 26 May to 4 June 1940. After the Phoney War, the Battle of France began in earnest on 10 May 1940. To the east, the German Army Group B invaded the Netherlands and advanced westward. In response, the Supreme Allied Commander—French General Maurice Gamelin—initiated “Plan D” and entered Belgium to engage the Germans in the Netherlands. The plan relied heavily on the Maginot Line fortifications along the German–French border, but German forces had already crossed through most of the Netherlands before the French forces arrived. Gamelin instead committed the forces under his command, three mechanised armies, the French First and Seventh Armies and the British Expeditionary Force (BEF), to the River Dyle. On 14 May, German Army Group A burst through the Ardennes and advanced rapidly to the west toward Sedan, then turned northward to the English Channel, using Generalfeldmarschall Erich von Manstein's plan Sichelschnitt under the German strategy Fall Gelb, effectively flanking the Allied forces. A series of Allied counter-attacks—including the Battle of Arras—failed to sever the German spearhead, which reached the coast on 20 May, separating the BEF near Armentières, the French First Army, and the Belgian Army further to the north from the majority of French troops south of the German penetration. After reaching the Channel, the German forces swung north along the coast, threatening to capture the ports and trap the British and French before they could evacuate to Britain. In one of the most debated decisions of the war, the Germans halted their advance on Dunkirk. Contrary to popular belief, what became known as the “Halt Order” did not originate with Adolf Hitler. Generalobersten (Colonel-Generals) Gerd von Rundstedt and Günther von Kluge suggested that the German forces around the Dunkirk pocket should cease their advance on the port and consolidate to avoid an Allied breakout. Hitler sanctioned the order on 24 May with the support of the Oberkommando der Wehrmacht (OKW). The army was to halt for three days, which gave the Allies sufficient time to organise the Dunkirk evacuation and build a defensive line. Despite the Allies' gloomy estimates of the situation, with some in Britain even discussing a conditional surrender to Germany, in the end more than 330,000 Allied troops were rescued.
The Great Antiques Map of Britain - Evacuation - Netflix
The War Office made the decision to evacuate British forces on 25 May. In the nine days from 27 May–4 June, 338,226 men escaped, including 139,997 French, Polish, and Belgian troops, together with a small number of Dutch soldiers, aboard 861 vessels (of which 243 were sunk during the operation). B. H. Liddell Hart wrote that Fighter Command lost 106 aircraft over Dunkirk and the Luftwaffe lost about 135, some of which were shot down by the French Navy and the Royal Navy. MacDonald wrote in 1986 that the British losses were 177 aircraft and German losses 240. The docks at Dunkirk were too badly damaged to be used, but the East and West Moles (sea walls protecting the harbour entrance) were intact. Captain William Tennant—in charge of the evacuation—decided to use the beaches and the East Mole to land the ships. This highly successful idea hugely increased the number of troops that could be embarked each day and on 31 May, over 68,000 men were embarked. The last of the British Army left on 3 June, and at 10:50, Tennant signalled Ramsay to say “Operation completed. Returning to Dover”. Churchill insisted on coming back for the French and the Royal Navy returned on 4 June, to rescue as many as possible of the French rearguard. Over 26,000 French soldiers were evacuated on that last day, but between 30,000 and 40,000 more were left behind and forced to surrender to the Germans.
The Great Antiques Map of Britain - References - Netflix