View Full Version : The Miracle of Little Ships and loses at Dunkirk

The Sailor
15-02-2008, 04:35
Despite the success of this operation, all the heavy equipment and vehicles were abandoned. Six British and three French destroyers were sunk, along with nine large boats. In addition, 19 destroyers were damaged. Over 200 of the Allied sea craft were sunk, with an equal number damaged.
Winston Churchill revealed in his volumes on WWII that the Royal Air Force played a most important role protecting the retreating troops from the Luftwaffe. Without the support of the RAF, the allies would not have had such a successful evacuation. Churchill also said that the sand on the beach softened the explosions from the German bombs.
The RAF lost 474 planes, compared to 132 for the Luftwaffe.However, the retreating troops were largely unaware of this vital assistance because the weather was too foggy to see them, and many bitterly accused the airmen of doing nothing to help.

This is when the little ships came to play their part. A variety of motor boats, fishing smacks, trawlers, lifeboats, paddle steamers and many other types of craft came over the channel to assist in the escape.

They mainly ferried the troops from the beaches to the destroyers laying offshore - but thousands of troops came all the way back to England in some of these boats.

The escape captured the minds and hearts of the British people at a time when it looked probable that we too would soon be invaded.

It seemed like a victory in just getting the troops back - over a third of a million of them - to fight another day

Major ships lost
The Royal Navy's most significant losses in the operation were six destroyers:

HMS Grafton, sunk by U-62 on 29 May;
HMSGrenade, sunk by air attack off the east pier at Dunkirk on 29 May;
HMSWakeful, sunk by a torpedo from a Schnellboot (E-boat) S-30 on 29 May;
HMS Keith, all sunk by air attack off the beaches on 1 June.

15-02-2008, 05:46
Crikey Sailor. Just when I thought everything that could be said about Dunkirk had been said!

Talk about the evacuations at Gallipoli. Now there's remarkable feat. And don't tell me that Turks didn't know what was going on.

John Brown
15-02-2008, 07:55
Good post Sailor.

Yes 'Operation Dynamo' was certainly a great feat and the part played by the 'little ships' warmed the hearts of the population. My own Grandfather 'came out' through Dunkirk. Remarkable though how the propagandists were able to turn what was ,first and foremost, a massive defeat into a huge victory that we celebrate even today.

I doubt it did much to please our allies, the French, at the time but it could be said that the 'end justified the means'


The Sailor
15-02-2008, 08:14
I think that what staggered me Herk and John were the RAF losses. 474 planes and probably most of the pilots if the truth be known, as they fought over enemy territory. Also probably mostly fighter planes.
This three months before the Battle of Britain. No wonder they were short. They could have used that 474.

Alan B
15-02-2008, 10:24
Hello All, long time no see.
This site may be of interest

15-02-2008, 10:28
That's a nice site Alan. Lots of detail of such an amazing event.

And welcome back!

The Sailor
15-02-2008, 11:33
Thanks for that Alan. I hope you are getting better old chap.