The Battles of Dunkirk and Britain

4th Period

The Battle of Dunkirk was a important battle between the Allies and Germany. This battle was code-named Operation Dynamo. In 1939 the BEF was sent to defend France. 338,226 troops were evacuated from Dunkirk between 27 May and 4 June 1940. 98,780 men were lifted from the beaches; 239,446 from the harbour and mole (a wooden breakwater protecting the harbour) at Dunkirk.

933 ships took part in Operation Dynamo, of which 236 were lost and 61 put out of action the number of little boats that sailed on their own initiative will never be known. The BEF left the following equipment behind in France, much of it to be recycled by the German Army .

2,472 guns63,879 vehicle 20,548 motorcycles76,097 tons of ammunition416,940 tons of stores. 68,111 men of the BEF were captured or killed during Blitzkrieg, retreat and evacuation. 40,000 French troops were taken into captivity when Dunkirk fell. 126 merchant seamen died during the evacuation. Churchill had been Prime Minister for only 16 days when the evacuation began. The threat of invasion was so real that on 29 May Churchill proposed laying gas along the beaches of the south coast. 1,000 Dunkirk citizens died during air raids on 27 May.

The Battle of Britain
The Battle of Britain started on July 10th, 1940. It lasted many months as the Germans continued to bomb Britain. The name comes from a speech by the Prime Minister of Great Britain, Winston Churchill. After Germany had overrun France, he said that "the Battle of France is over. The Battle of Britain is about to begin."Germany needed to prepare for the invasion of Britain, so they first attacked towns and army defenses on the southern coast. However, they soon found that Britain's Royal Air Force was a formidable opponent. The Germans decided to focus their efforts on defeating the Royal Air Force. This meant they bombed airport runways and British radar.

Although the German bombings continued, the British did not stop fighting back. Hitler began to get frustrated at how long it was taking to defeat Great Britain. He soon switched tactics and started bombing large cities including London. Great Britain's air force was called the RAF or the Royal Air Force. Germany's air force was called the Luftwaffe. Although the Germans had more planes and pilots, the British were able to fight them off and win the battle. This was because they had the advantage of fighting over their own territory, they were defending their homeland, and they had radar. Radar allowed the British to know when and where German planes were coming to attack. This gave them time to get their own planes in the air to help defend. The code name for Hitler's invasion plans was Operation Sea Lion. It is estimated that around 1,000 British planes were shot down during the battle, while over 1,800 German planes were destroyed. The main types of fighter planes used in the battle were the Messerschmitt Bf109 and the Bf110 by the German Luftwaffe and Hurricane Mk and Spitfire Mk by the Royal Air Force. The leader of the German Luftwaffe was Herman Goering. The leader of the Royal Air Force was Sir Hugh Dowding. Germany continued to bomb London at night until May of 1941. This series of bombings was called the Blitz. At one point London was bombed for 57 nights in a row. Hitler finally stopped bombing London because he needed his bombers to invade Russia.

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