Talk:Dunkirk evacuation

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Last off the beach[edit]

"7 Alexander was the last British soldier taken off the beach". Although a good story of heroism, that seems unlikely in practice. Good Generals are too valuable to risk like this, and know too much if they are captured. In fact I seem to remember that one of the British commanders at Dunkirk had to be given explicit orders that he was to return immediately and not risk himself.

Do we have any references for this statement? DJ Clayworth 15:52, 17 Mar 2004 (UTC)

Not, I, said the guy who wrote the comment in question. I got it from some history or another and published it my book, but I'd be hard pressed to back it up now. Paul, in Saudi

Lord Gort was the general ordered by Churchill not to risk capture (this order was the model of the one given to Douglas Macarthur in the Philippines in 1942). Harold Alexander was the commander of the rearguard. It seems rather doubtful that Alexander was evacuated from the beach at all, since evacuation continued from the mole after the beaches were empty. [1] reprints a 1940 BBC story from 4 June 1940 that includes the text:

Major-General Harold Alexander inspected the shores of Dunkirk from a motorboat this morning to make sure no-one was left behind before boarding the last ship back to Britain

"On the last ship" is not the same as "last soldier taken off the beach". I changed the article to quote the BBC story rather than make an unsubstantiated claim. Gdr 12:15, 2004 Dec 13 (UTC)

That sounds rubbish to me, i lost relatives at dunkirk and all of this searching for the last man stuff is rubbish. By the time we had 3/4 of our men off, the area was overrun, the rest were killed.

The citation is from Dunkirk - The Men they left Behind by Sean Longden (2009). His reference (page 1) is the book by Nigel Nicholson Alex: The Life of Field Marshal Earl Alexander of Tunis, Weidenfeld and Nicholson, 1973.Mikeo1938 (talk) 19:52, 30 July 2010 (UTC)

February 23 2006 cleanup[edit]

The recently added section of text (from February 16) which was included from a deleted section of the Battle of Dunkirk page mostly repeats or contradicts information which is already in this article. Since the changes to these two related articles seem controversial, I'm including detailed reasons for all the changes I just made. Hopefully, this information will end the slow-motion edit war around them.

1) The first sentence repeats the codename, commander, and headquarters location from the first paragraph of the article. The only new information is the date preparations began, which I preserved.

2) The initial recovery plans and actual number of rescued soldiers on the first day is already included in the first paragraph of the next section.

3) The expanded five-day plan is stylistically redundant, since the next section reports the actual number of rescued soldiers for each day. It's also missing a source.

4) Likewise, the decision to use smaller vessels (2nd paragraph of original section) repeats early information and muddles the timeline, since these craft were already in use.

5) Stylistically, the size of the pocket on a given day adds nothing to this article, which focuses on the evacuation. Any value greater than zero is good enough, and must be true or the events wouldn't happen. It matters for the other article about the battle, and is already described there.

6) Every source I know about only mentions a halt of German armor from May 24 to May 26. I have no idea where the claim for an additional halt on May 29 arises.

7) The remaining text in the same paragraph just repeats information on the number of troops evacuated on specific days, which already exists in the next section.

StephenMacmanus 12:04, 23 February 2006 (UTC)

On 29 May the German armoured forces were in their entirety removed from the battle.--MWAK 12:22, 20 February 2007 (UTC)

Losses[edit]

In this article: The Royal Air Force lost 177 planes during Operation Dynamo, compared to 240 for the Luftwaffe (Murray and Millett 2000).

I know this is from an earlier source, but this is contradicted by Ronald Atkin in his book, Pillar of Fire: Dunkirk 1940 (London: Sidgwick and Jackson, 1980, Pg 132). "In the nine days of Operation Dynamo the RAF lost 145 planes, 99 of them from fighter command. Of these, 42 were treasured spitfires. Afterwards, Churchill claimed the RAF had inflicted four-fold destruction on the Luftwaffe, but the true total of German losses in the same conflict was 132." I have also encountered several sources which say that the British Government and reporting agencies not only adulterated their numbers but outright lied about them. I find it highly unlikely that the RAF lost so few compared to the Luftwaffe.

My History AQA textbook states the losses of RAF planes at 474 —Preceding unsigned comment added by 89.240.103.33 (talk) 19:10, 11 September 2008 (UTC)

Mole[edit]

What is a "mole"? Or a "protective mole"? I assume it is not a tunnel boring machine.--Henrygb 17:07, 26 March 2006 (UTC)

It seems to be a mole (architecture). But someone could fill that out. --Henrygb 17:54, 10 May 2006 (UTC)

resentment[edit]

"In France, the perceived preference of the British Navy for evacuating British forces at the expense of the French led to some bitter resentment" are you sure about that? the article states the BBC said they have waited until the very last man before sailing back to england, so it means everyone was rescued. the French article states the French resentment vis-à-vis the BEF came from Gort's refusal to launch a "traditional counter-attack" as planned by French commander General Weygand. Gort wanted an evac as he claimed it was inevitable in the medium-term. the british chief of staff supported Gort and the british operation was launched instead of the french plan. Shame On You 01:05, 26 November 2006 (UTC)

Most of the 'resentment' was stirred-up by the German occupiers after the French surrender - it was in their (the German's) interest to spread anti-British sentiment amongst the French as the Germans were still at war with them. Gort left withdrawal to the very last minute, as can be seen by him having to evacuate the troops off the beaches, rather than using the port facilities which he would have used normally.
Gort by then had lost all faith in the French High Command's ability to maintain any sort of control over events, and he had basically had enough of trying to comply with orders from his French superiors that bore no relation to the situation at-hand. The French forces had not updated their chain-of-command to use radios, and to a large extent they still relied on the French public telephone system for communications and issuing orders, and when the Germans advanced further into France the telephone exchange operators, being civilians, not unnaturally decided to get out while they still could, leaving the exchanges in the areas of fighting unmanned. Then there was the damage to telephone lines, both deliberate (sabotage), and by chance from stray shellfire. This crippled the French command system, with the result that many of the orders Gort received were several hours old, frequently several days old. Often the Germans had advanced way beyond the positions that Gort had received orders to defend by the time he received them.
In contrast, the British Army used radio and Dispatch Riders (DonR's) for communication.
As regards Weygand's orders, he was by then so out-of-touch with the true tactical situation that many of the divisions that he was planning to use in his 'traditional counter-attack' no longer existed, many of the French troops having become disillusioned, with poor morale, having just abandoned their rifles and simply gone home to their families. Weygand was trying to fight a Blitzkrieg-type of war using Western Front tactics, and unfortunately for France and the Allies, he was completely out of his depth. Gort and the BEF followed their orders scrupulously until the point eventually came where he (Gort) realised that the situation had become unrecoverable, whereupon he decided to evacuate his men, hence Operation Dynamo. He waited just about as long as he dared before ordering this, as no sane military commander needing to evacuate his troops waits until he has to lift his men off a beach in preference to using a harbour. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 86.112.86.143 (talk) 17:08, 23 May 2010 (UTC)
BTW, the fiasco that was the Battle of France and the lack of co-ordination between the various Allies in the battles preceding it was the reason behind the forming of NATO, as it was felt that in the immediate post-war era with the then-new possibility of the invasion of Western Europe by the Soviet Union, much closer collaboration between defending forces was needed. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 80.4.57.101 (talk) 21:14, 16 August 2011 (UTC)

silver lining[edit]

wasnt operation dynamo a case where a dark clouds silver lining was maximised to such an extent that people forget that the british army suffered one of their biggest defeats ever at the hands of a ruthless efficent german war machine the only thing that saved britain from being invaded was it was an and had a much stronger navyBouse23 11:50, 12 June 2007 (UTC)

Dunkirk spirit merge[edit]

The article Dunkirk spirit seems to me to belong in this article, either as a new section or as part of the Aftermath section. There's not a lot there that isn't already in this article, so the merge wouldn't even add much in the way of length. Orpheus 13:31, 17 October 2007 (UTC)

As it turns out, there was virtually nothing to merge and no objections, so I went ahead. Orpheus 05:22, 25 October 2007 (UTC)

Clarification on the fate of evacuated French Soldiers[edit]

The article had previously implied that while some french soldiers went back to fight, and some joined the Free French, most dallied around until the armistice, where they placidly returned to France. This is false! Most of 100 000 troops were repatriated extremely quickly, some spending less 48 hours in Britain. They were repatriated to France, maintained as divisions, and used by the French army during the remainder of the Battle of France. Just thought I'd correct that. --Cacofonie (talk) 03:43, 17 December 2007 (UTC)

Image copyright problem with Image:DUNKIRK1940.jpg[edit]

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This is an automated notice by FairuseBot. For assistance on the image use policy, see Wikipedia:Media copyright questions. --19:01, 23 May 2008 (UTC)

Evacuation Numbers[edit]

Are these verifiable? I'm not disputing them, but 120,000 men evacuated in 2 days is simply mind-boggling. LikeHolyWater (talk) 02:14, 6 May 2009 (UTC)

DO NOT MERGE THIS PAGE[edit]

The Dunkirk evacuation page should not be merged. I feel that it is an extremely signinficant historical event, and is well worthy of being maintained as its own article. I see no discussion section started by the person who placed the merger idea, so I think that he or she must explain themselves and promptly. If wikipedia can spare articles for every character of a particular move or show, it can spare an article for the heroics of these people, both military and civilian, who did the impossible and the very brave thing of evacuating the shores of Dunkirk, at great personal risk. While it is part of the Battle of Dunkirk, it is a distinct enough event to warrant its own article. By merging this article, you would set a precedent that might see, at its worst, World War Two and all of underlying battles, causes, effects, and heroics being forced onto one page. This modern age depends too much upon abridgement of facts, and this is unacceptable. Wikipedia should not be the cliffnotes of the internet. While it must be accessible to the average reader, this does not mean its content should be diluted. I shudder to think what will happen if this modern trend of "shortening" the facts continues. Where will human intellect end up? Take a stand against it.SAWGunner89 (talk) 18:32, 19 July 2009 (UTC)

  • There's no intention to abridge. At all. In fact, I very sincerely intend to expand both of them. There have been whole books written about Dunkirk in 1940, and there's a lot to say.

    Having everything in one article doesn't mean it'll be treated less thoroughly. It just means it'll be easier to find information about it because instead of having Battle of Dunkirk, Dunkirk evacuation and Little ships of Dunkirk, everything will be in one place.—S Marshall Talk/Cont 21:41, 20 July 2009 (UTC)

  • Don't merge. My first instinct was to vote merge, but the more I thought about it, the less sure I became. What clinched it for me is the fact that the evacuation has its own designation, Dynamo. If the Allied commanders saw it as distinct from the battle, who am I to disagree? Clarityfiend (talk) 22:08, 20 July 2009 (UTC)

Hitler's orders to let the Allied evacuation go without interference[edit]

Why is there no mention of Hitler's orders on 24.05.1940 to stop 3 armored divisions 18km in front of Dunkerk? --Fukla (talk) 14:26, 28 October 2009 (UTC)

The issue of Hitler's 'Haltbefehl', (and rationale for it), is discussed in article Battle of Dunkirk. This article cocentrates more on evacuation of Allied troops from Dunkirk, combats on approaches to Dunkirk are rather out of its scope.--ja_62 (talk) 21:18, 28 October 2009 (UTC)

Because he was confirming a decision already taken by von Rundstedt the day before. Goring had convinced Hitler to let the Luftwaffe finish them off. He changed his mind again on the 26th at 1:30pm.

I've added that all with refs (35-38), both from secondary sources and official German military history, as well as Jodl and Halder's diaries. --Ganpati23 (talk) 18:19, 30 December 2011 (UTC)

Dunkirk syndrome[edit]

I wonder if a more knowledgeable editor might add something about the "Dunkirk Syndrome" that apparently affected those who were last to be evacuated through the constant strafing of the beach. My own father (Edward McArthur) was one off the last to be evacuated, our family was told he had died (he had given his coat to a dying boy near the beach that contained his i.d, we only found out he was alive when a young man turned up at my mothers door to explain that my father saved his life when swimming out towards a rescue ship). He also had the unusual distinction of being imprisoned by his own side (British Army) for protecting a serviceman who was being attacked by his fellow soldiers for being Jewish and, from my pov, wading in to to defend a mother and baby who were being attacked in Ostende for being collaborators. He was also one of the first to enter Belsen, after his release. Taam (talk) 20:14, 24 December 2009 (UTC)

“Operation Dynamo” in the Second World War was the British code name for the evacuation of the British Expeditionary Force, French and other allied soldiers from the beaches and harbour of Dunkirk, France, between 26 May and 4 June 1940. The British and French troops had been cut off on the French coast by the advancing German army during the battle of Dunkirk. Facing the loss of its army of over 300,000 men Britain launched a desperate effort to rescue its soldiers. The evacuation was the end result of a disastrous military campaign by the British and French forces. However the success of the evacuation using the Royal Navy and numerous civilian boats, known as the “little ships” became to be seen by the British public as a victory rather than a military defeat and was the beginning of what became known as the British “Dunkirk Spirit”.

The French army surrendered and the British army escaped from the Germans and they were sent to the beach and were told to leave their weapons behind because they wouldn’t be able to take them on the boats with them. There were 68,000 injured British troops on the beach as well as the French. They all had to line up in the sea and wait to be picked up in small boats to then be taken to larger boats which would take them home. Some of the small boats only took 12 men at a time, where as others could take up to 60 or 70 men. The soldiers who were at the back of the line were left in the sea up to 24 hours until they were picked up. This caused hypothermia and pneumonia. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 88.109.223.242 (talk) 18:49, 26 February 2010 (UTC)

Canadians[edit]

At the start of the article it states British, French, Canadian & Belgian soldiers - there were no Canadian units involved. This needs removing. There may have been individual Canadians within British units but you could say the same for lots of other nationalities! 194.203.215.254 (talk) 11:58, 19 April 2010 (UTC)

With regard to the above, I've just deleted the ref to Canadians at Dunkirk. One large unit (Edmontons?) was sent to western France but had hardly arrived when they were repatriated via St Malo or Cherbourg. Mikeo1938 (talk) 14:41, 24 May 2010 (UTC)
Just seen the following on the MLU forum:

From "The Fall Of France" by Terry Copp: "First Bde. [the Royal Cdn. Regt., the Hastings and Prince Edward Regt. and the 48th Highlanders of Canada, with field and anti-tank artillery regiments] sailed for Brest on June 13, the day before the Germans entered an undefended Paris. The level of confusion in France was such that the Canadians, who were supposed to concentrate near the port before linking up with the Lowland division, were sent inland to Le Mans well past the proposed Brittany defence line. The next day orders were issued reversing the movement; the Canadians were to return to England. Some elements of the division were 250 miles inland while much of First Bde. was en route to Le Mans by road. There was much cursing, frustration, disappointment and some reports of drunkenness, but the entire force was re-embarked in good order. Most of the brigade’s vehicles were lost though Lt.-Col. J.H. Roberts, commanding the lst Field Regt., Royal Canadian Horse Artillery, insisted his precious 25-pounder guns had to be saved. He was given less than two hours to accomplish this but it was more than enough time. The RCHA war diary noted bitterly: "Although there was evidently no enemy for 200 miles the withdrawal was conducted as a rout." This was no doubt unfair but the Canadians had little reason to be impressed with the strategic or operational management of the British army." Mikeo1938 (talk) 15:06, 24 May 2010 (UTC)

There's now a whole lot more at "WW2 Military History & Equipment" on the MLU Forum.Mikeo1938 (talk) 21:02, 24 May 2010 (UTC)
This was no doubt unfair but the Canadians had little reason to be impressed with the strategic or operational management of the British army." Hmm, actually I think you'll find that, A: The BEF only made up around 10% of the defending forces. And B: until right up to the evacuation they had been operating under French command. Therefore blaming the British for the Fall of France seems a little bit like the sort of excuse that Petain's Government used themselves. The British were only a small proportion of the defending forces, most of the others surrendering, leaving, as it where, the British in the lurch. At least up until the Evacuation the BEF followed their orders from the French High Command as best as they could, until it became apparent that their French superiors were losing grip of the situation and that the position was becoming hopeless. At this point Gort ordered the evacuation. Any chaos prior to this was largely the result of the French High Command's conflicting orders brought about by being out of touch with the tactical situation and not being able to communicate properly with units in the field, for the reasons I mentioned elsewhere. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 86.112.76.205 (talk) 21:50, 12 July 2010 (UTC)

Uniforms, French[edit]

First of all, I would like to apologize for my addition to the discussion page. I found my way here through a Google image search which turned up images of French soldiers. My question is only partially relevant to the topic.

I have been searching all over the internet, and Wikipedia, for information regarding French military uniforms, particularly in regards to the Dog Tags page (see National Variations section). I have read that in the past, WWI French soldiers wore bracelets and not dog tags. However, I can not find any information about what French soldiers wore for personal identification in WWII, or anytime after that up to today. Nobody appears to have an answer to this question. If you have an answer, please make a submission to the Dog Tags page, and reply so that we can be aware of the addition.

As I said, it was images of a French soldier and French officer uploaded to this article which brought me here, and I apologize for having to make my inquiry here on the discussion page. Christopher, Salem, OR (talk) 03:00, 21 April 2010 (UTC)

U. S.[edit]

The United States are mentioned in the "Aftermath". They were at that time neutral. Any British financial dependence on America could only have started later. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 81.148.18.65 (talk) 13:03, 24 May 2010 (UTC)

Loss of life[edit]

I have no information, but I think the "Losses" section of the article should contain information also on losses to human life and not just machines, i.e troops killed during evacuation in ships sunk by german air attacks and troops killed on shore. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 79.181.54.201 (talk) 16:59, 17 June 2010 (UTC)

Hitler's British Slaves ...[edit]

Does anyone have a copy of the above by Sean Longden? It would be nice to add a page reference for the statement: "The majority (those below the rank of corporal) then worked in German industry and agriculture for five years." Mikeo1938 (talk) 19:56, 30 July 2010 (UTC)

"But if not"[edit]

"In 1940 a British officer on Dunkirk beach sent London a three-word message: ``But if not. It was instantly recognized as from the Book of Daniel. When Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego are commanded to worship a golden image or perish, they defiantly reply: ``Our G-d who we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us out of thine hand, O king. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods. ...


Britain then still had the cohesion of a common culture of shared reading. That cohesion enabled Britain to stay the hand of Hitler, a fact pertinent to today's new age of barbarism. " - George Will http://www.jewishworldreview.com/cols/will072204.asp —Preceding unsigned comment added by 74.219.197.144 (talk) 00:01, 7 January 2011 (UTC)

Yes, I can see how society was better for having so few books to read that when somebody quoted from one of them, everyone else knew the quote. Time to burn all our books, and go back to reading nothing but Dickens and the Bible. 81.105.111.230 (talk) 12:15, 11 June 2011 (UTC)
Erm, no, it was called being educated and having a common culture, with books such as the Bible and the works of Dickens being regarded as Classics, unlike the trash literature that abounds today, although judging from your post I would guess that my reply would be wasted on you ... as it seems would be the British officer's 1940 telegram.
You see, one of the problems with being ignorant is that few ignorant people are aware of what being ignorant truly means for them, in that they don't know what they don't know, nor are they able to appreciate what a person who does know finds of value in just knowing. So an ignorant person is unable to even understand the value of education.
Education was originally intended to 'broaden the mind' and to expand a person's horizons, both in thought, and in possibilities in life, and classics such as the Bible and Dickens actually tell the reader something about the human condition, and like Shakespeare, and Tolstoy, are to some extent, timeless. Current novels, etc., don't and aren't. That's why there are so few modern classics, as most are the printed equivalents of the television soaps, although with the introduction of the UK National Curriculum and the dumbing-down of the UK media I suspect many would nowadays be regarded as rather highbrow.
So, my advice is to never boast about, or at least try to conceal, your ignorance, that is unless you want other people to think you an oaf. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 80.7.147.13 (talk) 19:48, 11 January 2013 (UTC)
I came across this "but if not" meme a couple or three years ago when it was posted to a now-defunct discussion group by an American Christian fundamentalist. I tried to source it then. It turned up in a sprinkling of writings by conservative American commentators but nowhere else. I eventually traced it back as far as the American columnist George Will. It appears in The Morning After: American Successes and Excesses, 1981-1986 (Free Press, 1986) (Page 392). Had Will heard it somewhere or did he make it up? Can anyone find an earlier source? - Dkahn400 (talk) 12:33, 1 July 2014 (UTC)

Dunkirk anchor brought home to serve as memorial for those lost in 1940[edit]

http://www.isleofman.com/News/article.aspx?article=40559 is about the anchor from the Mona's Queen, one of three Steam Packet company ships which sank at Dunkirk, has been recovered and returned to the Isle of Man. Plans are to put it at Kallow Point in Port St Mary as a memorial.

The citation needed to prove that Von Rundstedt ordered the halt on the Dunkirk attack[edit]

(sorry, wiki virgin, dunno how to use this)

Nazism 1919-1945: Vol 3, : Foreign Policy, War and Racial Extermination, Eds: Noakes, J, and Pridham, G. (2010) (First published 1988) but this is from the 2010 reprint of the new edition first published with additional material in 2001. (reprinted 2006, 2010) isbn 978 0 85989 602 3 University of Exeter Press, Exeter, Devon.

p.167 "From these documents it is clear that the initial decision to halt was that of von Rundstedt, Commander of Army Group A. When he arrived on the scene Hitler confirmed this decision and made it a Fuhrer command, thereby overriding the Army High Command (OKH)."

It continues saying AH had been urged by Goering to let the Luftwaffe finish them off.

The docs N+P cite are: War Diary of Army Group A, 24.v.40 and OKW Jodl diary, 25.v.40

Can someone please explain how one adds a reference to a {citation needed}.

Keep up the good work. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 85.210.13.113 (talk) 17:27, 29 December 2011 (UTC)

Welcome, dear anonymous! Please take a look at this citation guide, and feel free to add the citation above to the article. Even if you mess it up for the first time, there are enough people around to fix it. Editing Wikipedia is fun, I hope you will enjoy it and stay with us! --ElComandanteChe (talk) 17:58, 29 December 2011 (UTC)

Cheers, ElcomandanteChe. I'm typing this to you via the Edit bit of discussion. Am I doing this right? I don't know what all the symbols are about. Anyway, I added the refs (35-37). Have I done it the right way? Do you need more details for 36 and 37, i.e. where you can find the official German Army records and diary cited by N+P (ref 35)? Thanks for that. Didn't know it was that easy. Keep up the good work. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 212.139.225.5 (talk) 00:19, 30 December 2011 (UTC)

You did it just right (and as you probably noticed, Bzuk already formatted the refs). Don't be afraid of the technical details, no one is familiar with 100% of them. The info on the Army records and the War diary could be helpful, but not essential, for Wikipedia prefers secondary sources – Noakes and Pridham in this case. --ElComandanteChe (talk) 01:56, 30 December 2011 (UTC)

Cheers mate. Will try to do it properly in future, but glad that boffins can tidy it up so quickly for us. Re Primary/Secondary sources.... 1) N+P, for example, is 90% primary sources linked by 10% analysis. Is it not beneficial to give details of the primary source quoted? It would allow a student to check a fact, the Hossbach Memorandum for example, in any book he/she possessed that quoted it, without needing to buy N+P. 2) I've some books that are solely anthologies of primary sources. For Example, if I wanted to reference from the GB govt's Casement Report (1904) which I've seen both online and in a course book : 'Primary Source Anthology - 15xx-19xx', how should I do that? Thanks for the help, ECC — Preceding unsigned comment added by Ganpati23 (talkcontribs) 03:19, 30 December 2011 (UTC)

Congrats on getting an account Ganpati23, please see my answer here --ElComandanteChe (talk) 11:51, 30 December 2011 (UTC)

--Ganpati23 (talk) 19:12, 30 December 2011 (UTC)

Need a background section[edit]

I just want to point out that this article could be improved by adding a background section that explains the lead-up to this military scenario. For example, why was so much of the British war machine trapped in France? I can guess, knowing enough about the history prior to and during the beginning of World War II, but it makes it harder for the reader to understand the makings of the situation. 74.76.60.27 (talk) 21:54, 3 August 2013 (UTC)

Numbers evacuated[edit]

The numbers of French troops evacuated in the last 3 days, as supposedly quoted by Churchill, do not add up with the total numbers evacuated as listed by Thompson, and the 338,000 figure sounds the accepted one. I am editing the text to make as much sense as I could of this. Hyperman 42 (talk) 10:55, 14 June 2014 (UTC)