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Dunkirk Evacuation - Operation Dynamo (Paperback)

Nine Days that Saved an Army

Military > Frontline Books > Frontline: WWII Photographic Books WWII > Battles & Campaigns > Dunkirk

By John Grehan, Alexander Nicoll
Frontline Books
Series: Images of War
Pages: 184
Illustrations: 140 black and white
ISBN: 9781526770356
Published: 3rd April 2020



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The ‘miracle’ of Dunkirk is one of the most inspiring stories of all time. The British Expeditionary Force had been all but surrounded, and, with the French armies collapsing on all sides, it appeared that Britain was about to suffer the heaviest defeat in its history.

When Winston Churchill’s War Cabinet finally accepted that the Battle of France had been lost, preparations were made to try and rescue as many soldiers as possible from one of the few ports left open to the British Expeditionary Force – Dunkirk.

So rushed and chaotic was the retreat to the Channel coast, with thousands of guns, vehicles and tanks being abandoned, there was little time for soldiers to consider taking photographs of the shocking scenes of death and destruction which surrounded them. Yet images do exist of the ships and boats of all descriptions which braved the bombs and guns of the German Air Force to rescue Britain’s only field army from the clutches of Hitler’s panzer divisions.

One man in particular, Sub-Lieutenant John Rutherford Crosby, a member of the crew of the minesweeper, and converted Clyde paddle steamer, HMS Oriole, left a legacy of dramatic images. These include the never-to-be-forgotten scenes of long lines of tired and anxious troops stretching into the sea and of bombs exploding on the packed beaches – all with his own personal little camera.

Other images in this book paint a vivid and memorable picture, as no words ever could, of the greatest evacuation of troops under fire.

This is a really thought-provoking book and again, I would certainly recommend it to members.

Andy Field, The Naval Review

This is a really thought-provoking book and I would certainly recommend it to members.

Andy Field, The Naval Review - Summer 2021

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Red Coat and Khaki website

This is an interesting and well compiled picture book covering nine famous days in May-June 1940.

World Ship Society - Marine News, December 2020

'Dunkirk Evacuation Operation Dynamo' published by Front Line Books, is a pictorial description of a defeated British army. To be savoured in the historical sense. The men fought a war with they were given and while Germany re-armed with modern weapons, British politics reduced the military budget. Many soldiers rescued were later sent to Singapore which suffered the same fate as Dunkirk. Only allowed one miracle they were captured by the Japanese died building a railway.

Richard Gough, Military author and historian

An essential work in our library.

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Miniaturas JM

I have no hesitation in recommending this book. The Images of War series comprises of works of a generally high standard. In my opinion, this book raises the overall standard to a new level. I can think of no better, or accessible book to read on the 80th anniversary of Operation Dynamo.

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Donnas Book Blog

This book really brings the Dunkirk miracle home. Well done!

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These two immensely experienced authors have succeeded in showing the Dunkirk story from many angles and to my mind this tips a decent nod to men like my grandfather who did not survive the war. There are some fantastic pictures in this book aided by typically efficient captions that keep us all informed.

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War History Online

The Images of War series under the frontline imprint nicely compliments the similar series under the Pen & Sword imprint and is proving very popular. This book comprises clear and well-researched text, with a selection of impressive images– Very Highly Recommended.

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An interesting collection of archive photos, many of which I had not seen before, and some informative text to accompany them. A good addition to the series.

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Military Model Scene, Robin Buckland

This book provides a very good visual representation of the evacuation of Dunkirk and the surrounding area.

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Recollections of WWII

... the book is one that is well worthwhile adding to your bookshelf.

Nigel Denchfield C. Phys, M.IoP, B.Sc

Article: ‘New book looks at Dunkirk evacuation exactly 80 years on’ as featured by

Chichester Observer, 21st May 2020 – words by Phil Hewitt

This title as part of the Images at War series provides a visual delight covering the retreat of a defeated army to the coast and the successful rescue from the sea. The images do not try to narrate a story in a different light but instead presents the what and the how of history around the escape from Dunkirk that enabled the British and other nations to continue the fight. The captions add a lot to the photographs and the authors should be thanked for their work in this regard. This title as with most of the books in this series are a must have for any modeller who wants to show things as they were and not as war is presented to us.

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There are some events in British history which still have the power to baffle and amaze decades or even centuries later. The battle in the skies over southern England between July and October 1940, in what would become known as Battle of Britain in 1940, is one such event. So too is the evacuation of the BEF from the shores of France in late May and early June 1940 which can be summed up in one word: Dunkirk.

Dunkirk evacuation: Operation Dynamo, recently published by Frontline Books tells the story of those crucial 'nine days that saved an army'; when the little ships from England joined forces with The Royal Navy, Merchant Navy and passenger ferries to pluck the BEF from Frecnh beaches. This is a well-illustrated book, neatly laid out and with a separate chapter devoted to each of the nine days from Sunday 26th May 1940 to Monday 3rd Jun 1940. Including a little over 26,000 men who arrived back in the UK on the 4th June, those nine days saw a total of 338,226 men rescued since the 27th May; men whose services would be desperately needed later in the war.

Co-author John Grehan is obvious;y the right man for the job, having already published a book on Dunkirk (Nine Days That Saved An Army...), also with Frontline Books, in 2018. This latest publication allows for far more photographs than were possible earlier and makes for an easily digestible account of a legendary military operation. For parents wishing to ease their children into British history, and stimulate interest, the format of this book makes this an ideal candidate by which to do so. This takes nothing away from the appeal of this book to an adult audience and could quite easily lead to readers wanting to find out more. Recommended.

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Paul Nixon

The latest volume in the Images of War series, and it's probably the best yet, in my opinion! We've had a major new movie on Dunkirk in the last three years telling the story from a broad down to a very narrow and almost individual perspective, but actual photographs have always seemed somewhat elusive, until now, in the magnificent visual and scenic account of Operation Dynamo. Brillliant.

Books Monthly

Dunkirk Evacuation Operation Dynamo is an informative journey through the drama that was Dunkirk and a welcome addition to the Images of War series. 8/10

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Beating Tsundoku

This is a well assembled pictorial record of a critical operation with a wide and original selection of pictures, and is worth getting hold of

Army Rumour Service (ARRSE)

This story is a magnificent story and it is very well explained and presented in this book, together with the fantastic array of photographs I would go so far as to say the quality of the photos make this one of the premier books in this brilliant series. The photos of all the kit and machinery that ended up being left behind and used to build makeshift piers and pontoons is staggering. The authors have done a fantastic job on this book and have certainly done it justice. I would fully recommend this book ad go as far as giving it a very impressive 5 stars out of 5.

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UK Historian

Dunkirk and the epic of a defeat that became a victory has not been dealt with very often in the cinema, even if those times that happened has resulted in excellent films. Among them, a beautiful scene in "Atonement", where Dunkirk serves as a background to a story very different from a war movie, but the evacuation episode was masterfully portrayed in a 1958 film with the great John Mills (and there are some photos of the recreation of the French beaches taken from the film also in the book) and especially in the recent "Dunkirk" by Nolan. However, no cinematic recreation can beat the photos of the real event, with the tragedy of the destroyed and beached ships, the abandoned material and the injured and evacuated troops. However, the most striking photos are those of British soldiers who, although defeated, have a proud and often smiling look. Dunkirk may not have been a victory, but it certainly was the birth of a new spirit that later helped British forces redeem themselves during the war.

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On The Old Barbed Wire

This is another excellent book in the Images of War series. It delivers a good narrative of the Dunkirk evacuation and as well as using stock images the authors have used several images from individuals (including Germans) that add real value. The images are well used to position events particularly where defining locations where events took place. I would have liked to see some detailed maps but a good addition to the series.

Michael McCarthy. Battlefield Guide

Michael McCarthy

About John Grehan

JOHN GREHAN has written, edited or contributed to more than 300 books and magazine articles covering a wide span of military history from the Iron Age to the recent conflict in Afghanistan. John has also appeared on local and national radio and television to advise on military history topics. He was employed as the Assistant Editor of Britain at War Magazine from its inception until 2014. John now devotes his time to writing and editing books.

About Alexander Nicoll

ALEXANDER NICOLL has been involved in writing and publishing military history for thirty years. He began his career with local history, and has since written numerous books and magazine articles, predominantly on subjects relating to the two world wars.

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