Dunkirk, the last town to be liberated in 1945 was also the dramatic scene of a key episode at the beginning of the Second World War. Known as Operation Dynamo, it resulted in the evacuation of 340,000 allied soldiers to England, an event which will be commemorated in May 2015 for the 75th Anniversary…
Great Britain decided to evacuate troops fearing they would be trapped in Dunkirk by the advancing German Army and from 28th May to 4th June 1940, the French and British Navies worked to evacuate the soldiers. Everything that could float from the south of England was mobilized: warships, merchant ships, fishing boats, pleasure yachts, dinghies and miniscule craft, “little ships” that had never ventured any further than a few nautical miles from the shore. Under continuous aerial attack, over 340,000 allied soldiers, including 120,000 French soldiers and several thousand Belgian soldiers were evacuated through Dunkirk after its fall, almost a third of which were transferred by the beaches.
In 2015, the 75th anniversary Operation Dynamo will be commemorated from 21st May until 25th May
Thursday 21st May: Arrival of the Little Ships at the end of the afternoon (subject to weather conditions). The little ships will be welcomed on the quay by the period vehicles of the War & Peace display team.
Friday 22nd May 2:30pm: Commemorative ceremony at the British cemetery and memorial (route de Furnes)
Saturday 23rd May 11:00am Commemorative ceremony at the Allied memorial on the beach (time to be confirmed)
Saturday 23rd May 3:30pm: Parade in the streets of Dunkirk (marching bands, period military vehicles and cars…)
Sunday 24th May 10:00am: Ceremony on Zuydcoote beach to honour the victims of the Crested Eagle, a paddle steamer sunk in 1940. The wreck can still be seen at low tide.
Monday 25th May morning: departure of the Dunkirk Little Ships.
The Mémorial du Souvenir historical centre will give you the opportunity to relive the incredible story of this massive operation that turned Dunkirk into a symbol of the Second World War.
Special exhibitions will also be organised on the occasion. An exhibition on the theme of Operation Dynamo and the battle of Dunkirk can be seen at Salle Dany Boon in Bray Dunes (dates to be confirmed). The Dunkirk Port museum is planning to organise an exhibition on the pocket of Dunkirk, both in 1940 and in 1945, when the town was held by the Germans while the rest of France had been liberated.
On Saturday 23rd and Sunday 24th May, the association of Dunkirk divers will organise an exhibition of the ship wrecks on board the Princess Elizabeth. This paddle steamer took part in Operation Dynamo and is moored in Dunkirk.
The Battle of Dunkirk and Operation Dynamo museum is open from 1st April to 30th September.
Please check the Dunkirk Tourist Office website to validate details and times – they are subject to change: www.dunkirk-tourism.com
Day trip Dunkirk ideas
World War II sites in Dunkirk
5 Places you should not miss in Northern France