Dunkirk (1958)

 

 

 

Director: Leslie Norman.

Starring:  John Mills (Binns), Robert Urquhart (Mike), Ray Jackson (Barlow), Meredith Edwards (Dave Bellman), Anthony Nicholls (Military Spokesman), Bernard Lee (Charles Foreman), Michael Shillo (Jouvet), Richard Attenborough (Holden).

During the early years of WWII, the British were in a real fix.  They were backed up to the beaches of Dunkirk, France with the German army about to pounce and destroy them.  The evident disaster is turned into a moral victory of sorts by the brave actions of the British navy and many ordinary British citizens.

 

 

Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.

 


Historical Background:

 

1940 (May 10)  --  German Army Group A burst through the Ardennes region.  (Army Group B took the Netherlands and then advanced westward through Belgium.)

1940 (May 20)  --  the British Expeditionary Force at the town of Arras was surrounded.

The Germans reached the coast. This advance separated the Allied forces:  the British Expeditionary Force, the French 1st and 7th Armies and the Belgians were to the north of the Germans, while the majority of French troops were south of the German penetration.

At the English Channel the Germans headed north along the coast, threatening to trap the British and French forces before they could evacuate to Britain.

1940 (May 24)  --  German panzer divisions were halted outside Dunkirk.  The Dunkirk terrain was considered unsuitable for tanks. 

The Germans decided to head south to attack the remaining French forces.

1940 (May 25)  --  the head of the British forces, General Lord Gort, decided to evacuate British forces.

1940 (May 25-May 28)  --  British troops retreated about 30 miles northwest to a position along the Franco-Belgian border. This pocket ran from Dunkirk up the coast to Poperinge, Belgium. 

1940 (May 26)  --  the German SS committed a war crime against the British Royal Norfolk Regiment at Le Paradis in the Pas-de-Calais while covering the Allied evacuation from Dunkirk. (The Germans murdered 97 British prisoners of war following their surrender.)  The German commander, SS Obersturmfuhrer Fritz Knoechlein, was hanged for his war crime following the war. 

1940 (May 27)  --  in Operation Dynamo Allied troops were evacuated from the Dunkirk area. (The Allies once again stopped a German Panzer division.).

1940 (May 28)  --  the Belgian army surrendered to the Germans.

1940 (May 29)  --  elements of the French 1st Army were trapped outside the Dunkirk Pocket.

by 1940 (May 31)  --  the remaining Allied forces (with troops from Britain, France, Belgium, Netherlands and Poland) were compressed into a 5 km wide coastal strip from De Panne through Bray-Dunes to Dunkirk.

 

 

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