On the final day, around 26,000 French soldiers were evacuated, but between 30,000 and 40,000 more were left behind and seized by the Germans. Approximately 16,000 French and 1,000 British soldiers were killed during the evacuation. During the fighting, 90 percent of Dunkirk was destroyed.
After the evacuation, Hitler refused British requests to allow the remaining French forces to escape to Britain. He ordered them all killed or imprisoned instead. Around 14,000 French prisoners of war were taken by the Germans, most of them officers. A large number of others escaped captivity.
Almost the entire French army was lost during the Dunkirk battle. Only 800 soldiers out of 130,000 surrendered to the Germans after they invaded France in 1940.
France had no choice but to surrender to Germany because it was outnumbered by the Germans nearly three to one. However, French General Charles de Gaulle managed to escape from Belgium with 150,000 soldiers still loyal to him. They eventually formed a resistance movement against Germany. Today, France remains one of the four major powers of Europe.
There were 123,000 French soldiers among the 340,000 allied soldiers evacuated by boat from Dunkirk, but many more were not saved and were taken prisoner by the Germans. It is believed that between 50,000 and 90,000 French army personnel were killed in the combat between May and June 1940. After these tragic events, France was forced to surrender to Germany.
More than 47,000 British troops were saved on May 29; more than 53,000, including the first French troops, were freed on May 30. By the end of the evacuations, about 198,000 British and 140,000 French troops had made their way off the beaches of Dunkirk, for a total of 338,000 men. These numbers do not include other military personnel or civilians.
About 2,000 German soldiers were also rescued from Dunkirk during the evacuation. Additionally, there were approximately 800 Dutch prisoners of war aboard these ships that were able to escape during the retreat.
Why do we call this operation "Dunkirk"? The name comes from the fact that most of the rescued soldiers were brought back across the English Channel in boats called "dunks". These boats were attached to long cables attached to motor vehicles called "Ack-Acks".
Also called the "Miracle of Dunkirk", this mass rescue was carried out by a small force of British and French soldiers who were outnumbered by German forces five to one. However, they managed to hold off the Germans while thousands of soldiers were evacuated from France to England. This victory gave hope to the people of France and helped them stay loyal to the French government under Hitler. After this event, Winston Churchill said, "We will never surrender."
In 2004, a movie was made about this event called "Dunkirk".
123,000 of the 338,000+ men evacuated from Dunkirk by Operation Dynamo were French soldiers. Thousands of French and British soldiers were killed in the attempt to prevent the Wehrmacht from reaching the evacuees on the beaches.
The number of deaths includes those of several hundred German soldiers who were involved in the evacuation.
After the war had ended, more than 10,000 bodies of unknown soldiers were found near Dunkirk. They are presumed to be victims of Nazi massacres of prisoners of war.
Today, there are approximately five thousand two hundred soldiers' graves at the military cemetery at Souville. Many other graves can be seen around the coast of France, especially in the vicinity of Dunkirk.
In addition, one must consider the fate of all other civilians who were living in or around Dunkirk during the evacuation. The Wehrmacht's presence alone caused widespread destruction and death for both Germans and non-Germans.
For example, between May 13 and June 4, 1940, more than three hundred civilians were killed by German bombs aimed at the port facilities. Also, during the evacuation, eight hundred Belgian refugees were killed by shellfire from German guns that were positioned along the border with France.
Despite the fact that no British soldiers were left on the Dunkirk beaches, about 70,000 personnel were left behind in France, either dead, wounded, captives, or still stranded farther south. In addition, the British left 76,000 tons of ammunition, 400,000 tons of supplies, and 2,500 weapons behind.
There are two memorials on the beach to these men. One is a small bronze statue by Henry Moore called "The Drowned Soldier". It was donated by the people of Britain to mark the third anniversary of the end of the second world war. The other is a stone wall with plaques bearing names of men from each county in England who lost their lives during the evacuation. This was created by local people and installed by the Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI).
After the Germans captured most of Europe during World War II, they conducted their own investigation into what happened at Dunkirk. They concluded that there were no survivors because all the soldiers had been killed by our artillery before they could be rescued.
However, several groups of civilians and soldiers did escape across northern France after being evacuated from the Dunkirk area. One group of soldiers escaped in a boat made out of tarpaulins and crates marked with the red cross of Britain. They were eventually picked up by a French fisherman and returned to Britain. Another group of soldiers escaped in cars, trucks, and buses that were driven by French farmers who wanted to help them.
After being evacuated by naval forces at Dunkirk, 300,000 British and French troops fled the Germans. The bulk of France was occupied by the Germans. The Vichy Regime formed a semi-autonomous governmental entity in the south of France. The bulk of French colonies remained under Vichy's rule. German soldiers were given the right to marry French women and have families with them. This was called "Le Mariage Française". After the war many of these marriages were converted into legal marriages.
The Germans took revenge on the civilians of France for the suffering they had endured during the war years by killing, imprisoning, or forcing them to work against their will. Whole towns were destroyed by bombing campaigns that killed or injured many people.
About two million French people died during the occupation, most of them victims of Nazi brutality. Another five to six million people were deported to Germany where they worked as slaves in concentration camps or performed other menial tasks. About one third of all Jewish people in Europe were killed during the Holocaust.
When the Germans invaded Russia, they brought with them the same harsh laws that had been used against Jews in France and Germany. Russian prisoners were forced to build roads, canals, and railroads. Many were sent to labor camps far away from home. Thousands died every month from starvation, disease, or overwork.