The evacuation of Dunkirk, codenamed Operation Dynamo, between 26 May and 4 June 1940 continues to baffle and fascinate historians.
British, French, Canadian, and Belgian troops were cut off by the German army during the Battle of Dunkirk.
The Germans failed to overwhelm the allies and an ambitious rescue plan was launched to save the hundreds of thousand soldiers from the beaches and harbour of Dunkirk.
Hundreds of small vessels were co-opted after an order was issued on BBC Radio to "all owners of self-propelled pleasure craft between 30 feet and l00 feet in length to send all particulars to the Admiralty".
A flotilla of 900 naval and civilian craft was sent across the Channel under RAF protection and managed to rescue 338,226 people.
Most of the pleasure craft were crewed by naval reservists and were used to ferry men from the beaches to the destroyers.
Major-General Harold Alexander inspected the shores of Dunkirk from a motorboat to make sure no-one was left behind before boarding the last ship back to Britain.
The Prime Minister, Winston Churchill, described the "miracle of deliverance" from Dunkirk.
Churchill warned of an impending invasion in a moving speech to Parliament on the day the last allied soldier arrived home at the end of the 10 day operation.
He ended his speech with a defiant message to Hitler's armies: "We shall defend our island whatever the cost may be."
Churchill continued: "We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills."
"We shall never surrender." Prime Minister, Winston Churchill said to the nation.
A further 220,000 Allied troops were rescued by British ships from other French ports bringing the total of Allied troops evacuated to 558,000.
The British Expeditionary Force regrouped and became the nucleus of the new alliance which, five years later, won World War II.
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