The following introduction is as provided by Pen and Sword:
Operation Dynamo, the successful evacuation of Belgian, British, Dutch, French and Polish troops from the beaches at Dunkirk between 27 May and 4 June 1940, was not only a pivotal moment of the war, but one that changed its final outcome.
There has been much debate in the years since the end of the war concerning the “Hitler Halt” order, which was given to German Panzer units waiting patiently on the outskirts of Dunkirk to be allowed to finish the job they had started. Many theories have been put forward as to the reasons behind this, but the consequence was that it allowed Britain to remain in the war.
A total of 338,226, British and Allied troops were rescued from the beaches of Dunkirk, aboard a total of 861 vessels, of which 243 were sunk. For those left behind, official figures record that up to 80,000 French and British troops were captured, whilst during the time of the actual evacuation, somewhere in the region of 16,000 French and 1,000 British soldiers were killed.
Equipment wise British forces left behind somewhere in the region of 90,000 rifles, 11,000 machine guns, huge supplies of ammunition, 880 field guns, 310 large calibre artillery pieces, 500 anti-aircraft guns, 850 anti-tank guns, 700 tanks, 45,000 cars and lorries, and 20,000 motor cycles – enough equipment to arm nearly ten divisions of soldiers.
It is known that two atrocities took place during the Battle of Dunkirk: the Massacre at Le Paradis, and another at Wormhoudt, carried out by Waffen- SS soldiers, against British and French troops who had already surrendered.
Although the Battle of Dunkirk must ultimately go down tactically as a German victory, the rescue of so many of its men, ensured that like a phoenix, Britain rose from the ashes of defeat to gain a great and lasting victory.
This offering from Pen and Sword as part of their Images of War series is authored on this occasion by Stephen Wynn, Stephen Wynn has written large number of titles covering World War One and Two. This book is a soft backed offering with a reasonably robust card cover protecting 175 pages of a good quality semi gloss paper and a few blank pages at the back for leaving notes. The book itself is broken down into 7 chapters which are as follows:
Hitler’s halt order at Dunkirk and its consequences
Vice Admiral Ramsey and Operation Dynamo
POW’s and the massacres at La Paradis and Wormhoudt
Dunkirk and the British Government
Dunkirk and the British Press
Operation Cycle and Operation Aerial
The text provided in this title is not a huge amount due to it being part of the Images at War series of books, but what is present is worth taking the time to read. The text is well presented and easily read thanks to the font and size of the text and being written without obvious issues. The information is presented in a way that gives you an understanding of events rather than an in-depth knowledge of them and can be considered an introduction to events should you wish to seek out further information on given attributes. I myself was particularly interested in the Murders of soldiers by troops of the SS as I knew little of the events around the atrocities.
The Great strength of this book and the series as a whole is the plethora of images that are supplied in the titles. The photographs in this book are all black and white period offerings and it is these images that will be the biggest boon for the modeller. The photographs sure you how it was and not as we are informed, it enables accurate uniform depiction for the period as well as the weapons and equipment most commonly used. A good amount of the captured heavy weapons and transport vehicles are also well covered throughout the images and really are a great reference for the modeller to have.
While the photographs are the star of the show for the modeller further context is provided by the captions that accompany each and every one of them. I cannot say if every caption is correct in its information, but I did not pick up on any obvious issues with them. As I have said previously these captions are in many cases the real stars as they add the information that brings the photograps into clarity.
This is the second title I have looked at from Pen and Sword as part of the Images of War series covering the Dunkirk evacuation and as always I am pleased with what I have seen and read. I have built up a steady number of the books in this series as they are affordable and provide visual resources on specific units, events or equipment that are hard to beat for the price.