Between May 26 and June 4, 1940, more than 338,000 Allied soldiers from Britain, France, Belgium and elsewhere escaped death or capture at the hands of the overwhelming Nazi blitzkrieg. Hundreds of vessels, military and civilian, crossed the English Channel to bring these men home.

The reason they had the time to evacuate from the beaches of France is that 35,000 to 40,000 French troops stayed behind to give them that time. These valiant troops held against superior numbers, firepower and air power in a delaying action that earned the respect of even their enemy commander.

After eight months of little fighting following the start of World War II, Germany finally began its invasion of the Netherlands on May 10, 1940. Before the French could respond, the German Wehrmacht had already overtaken much of the Netherlands and was moving toward Belgium. The French, along with the British Expeditionary Force moved into Belgium to meet them.

The Allied force was quickly flanked by a surprise German advance through the dense Ardennes Forest. Despite a series of counterattacks, the Allies were forced to fall back. It wasn’t long before the German Army reached the coast and swung south, threatening every French port on the coastline.

 

This article was written by Team Mighty and originally published on WE ARE THE MIGHTY.