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The British Retreat From Dunkirk (LARGE IMAGES)

Remains of the day. Abandoned anti-aircraft guns and corpses on the streets of Dunkirk

Everybody knows about Dunkirk. How the British left its arms and hastily evacuated its men from a defeated France on anything that floated on water in 1940. But what till this day remains a mystery (there are many theories) is why did the Germans just sit and watch while the British were fleeing? If Hitler had sent his panzers and dive bombers there would have been a carnage of British soldiers. Perhaps Britain would have never recovered from it and there would never have been a D-Day in June 1944.
 Why? One of Hitler's monumental mistakes?

 The military vehicles left behind by the BEF (British Expeditionary Force) at Dunkirk. 1940
 The Germans wade through them after the British had fled

 British and French prisoners of war in Veules-les-Roses, near Saint-Valery-en-Caux, northern France, May 1940

The British soldiers arrive at Dover to safety to fight another day

This is how the British retreated. Even in little boats

A shipload of British soldiers sailing to safety of the British shores

The Germans did nothing. They sat and watched from far.

Cherbourg, Frnace. Rommel with captured British Major-General Sir Victor Morven Fortune. June 12, 1940, commander of the 51st Division


The 51st Division remained in France after the general evacuation from Dunkirk, having been assigned to the French X Corps. After naval evacuation proved impossible and supplies of ammunition had been exhausted, Major General Fortune was forced to surrender the greater part of the Highland Division at St Valery en Caux. One brigade had earlier withdrawn to Le Havre and avoided capture.

 General Fortune spent the rest of the war as a prisoner of war. As senior British officer in captivity in Germany, he worked to improve the conditions of the men under his command. He suffered a stroke in 1944 but refused repatriation. He was finally liberated in April 1945 and made KBE shortly after.

Several writers have questioned the decision to remain with the French during the battle. However, General Charles de Gaulle stated, 'For my part, I can say that the comradeship of arms, sealed on the battlefield of Abbeville in May–June 1940, between the French armoured division, which I had the honour to command, and the gallant 51st Scottish Division under General Fortune, played its part in the decision which I made to continue the fight at the side of the Allies, to the end, come what may'. And he concluded by quoting the old motto of the Compagnie Ecossaise: 'omni modo fidelis' - 'faithful in every way'

1 comment:

  1. Actually several stukas did attack the fleeing British, strafing the beach and diving on ships. As to why the German army didn't pursue the British on land could boil down to a mix of heavy French resistance and a sense of chivalry. It's possible they were worried about US retaliation over it too.



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It is difficult to distinguish between the quality of both the German and Russian soldiers. Both were motivated by their love for their motherland. But there were others factors that drove the two sides to such desperate fighting.

One, both sides knew that this was a no-holds bar war. Not fighting was thus not an option.

Second, both Hitler and Stalin had squads that killed any deserter. Turning away from fighting was just not possible.

Thus was seen some of the most bitter, brutal and desperate fighting on the WW2 eastern (Russian) Front.
"Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it."
-- George Santayana


"Be polite; write diplomatically; even in a declaration of war one observes the rules of politeness."
--Otto von Bismarck

"When the enemy advances, withdraw; when he stops, harass; when he tires, strike; when he retreats, pursue.'
--Mao Zedong


"The main thing is to make history, not to write it."
--Otto von Bismarck

"When you have to kill a man it costs nothing to be polite."
--Winston Churchill


"In time of war the loudest patriots are the greatest profiteers."
--August Bebel

"God is not on the side of the big battalions, but on the side of those who shoot best."

Quotes about War....

"Anyone who has ever looked into the glazed eyes of a soldier dying on the battlefield will think hard before starting a war."
---Otto von Bismarck


"Naturally the common people don't want war; neither in Russia, nor in England, nor in America, nor in Germany. That is understood. But after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country."
--Hermann Goering


"To conquer the enemy without resorting to war is the most desirable. The highest form of generalship is to conquer the enemy by strategy."
--Tzu Sun

"All men are brothers, like the seas throughout the world; So why do winds and waves clash so fiercely everywhere?"
--Emperor Hirohito