Page last updated at 08:37 GMT, Wednesday, 26 May 2010 09:37 UK

Dunkirk evacuation in maps

The evacuation from Dunkirk of nearly 340,000 troops under "Operation Dynamo" is one of the most momentous events of World War II. See how the story unfolded in maps from 27 May-4 June 1940.

German forces advancing rapidly through Belgium and France forced the British and French troops back around Dunkirk. A brief halt by the Germans allowed evacuation of troops to begin under "Operation Dynamo".
Evacuation of British troops started on 26 May. Passenger ferries led the rescue convoy from Southampton and Dover. Shelling by German troops forced the ships to take a longer route, to the beaches east of Dunkirk.
Shallow water prevented the big ships getting close to shore so a convoy of little ships, including pleasure craft, tugs and fishing boats, sailed from the UK on 29 May. Low cloud and burning oil provided cover for troops to escape.
The last British troops were brought out on 2 June. With German forces closing in, only one more night-time evacuation was possible. More than 26,000 French rearguard troops were rescued that night, bringing the total saved to 338,226.
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