Destination Dunkirk (Hardback)
The Story of Gort's Army
It is a peculiar genius of the British to be able to turn a devastating defeat into something to be celebrated. Dunkirk is but the most recent example; militarily, the only redeeming feature was that it was not a catastrophe. The largely successful evacuation of thousands of British (and, let it not be forgotten, French) soldiers, albeit minus most of their equipment, now occupies a well established place in British historical memory. The outcome of the ignominious end of Britain's expeditionary army was soon transformed into a celebration of the 'Dunkirk Spirit'; the Blitz of the following months reinforced the idea that Britain alone was prepared to stand up to the forces that threatened the democratic world.
Originally published in 1973, this welcome reprint of Gregory Blaxland's beautifully narrated account of the campaign in France and Flanders is combined with an adept use of the wealth of memoirs and regimental histories that emerged in the decades after the war's end. It has the advantage that it is written by one who served in the campaign, admittedly as a very junior officer, and was himself evacuated from the beaches of the Dunkirk perimeter.
Popular memory concentrates on the evacuation; but there were several weeks of desperate fighting that preceded the final evacuation from Nantes and St Nazaire on 18 June. These engagements, fought amongst the confusion of coalition warfare and often suffering from lamentably poor communications, produced many heroes, of whom too many are nameless. Valuable time was bought that enabled the Dunkirk perimeter to be established.The fact that well over half a million allied soldiers were brought over to England is in itself a tribute to their tenacity. This is their story.