Dunkirk evacuation

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Dunkirk evacuation
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{{short description|Successful evacuation of Allied forces from Dunkirk in May–June 1940}}{{EngvarB|date=July 2016}}{{Good article}}

| result = Allied success
  • Evacuation of 338,226 soldiers

* {{flagicon|British India}} British India{{sfn|Biswas|2017}}
  • {{flagicon|French Third Republic}} France

* {{flagicon|French Third Republic}} French Senegal{{sfn|Shephard|2003|p=169}} * {{flagicon image|Civil ensign of French Morocco.svg}} Morocco
  • {{flagicon|Belgium}} Belgium{{sfn|Sweeting|2010}}
  • {{flagicon|Canada|1921}} Canada{{sfn|McIntyre|2017}}
  • {{flagicon|Netherlands}} Netherlands{{sfn|Encyclopædia Britannica}}
  • {{flagicon|Poland|1928}} Poland{{sfn|Sweeting|2010}}
}}Nazi Germany}} Germany }}Nazi Germany}} Gerd von Rundstedt| notes = | campaignbox = {{Campaignbox Western Front (World War II)}}{{Campaignbox Battle of France}}| alt = Allied evacuation of Dunkirk}}The Dunkirk evacuation, code-named Operation Dynamo, also known as the Miracle of Dunkirk, was the evacuation of Allied soldiers during World War II from the beaches and harbour of Dunkirk, in the north of France, between 26 May and 4 June 1940. The operation commenced after large numbers of Belgian, British, and French troops were cut off and surrounded by German troops during the six-week long Battle of France. In a speech to the House of Commons, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill called this "a colossal military disaster", saying "the whole root and core and brain of the British Army" had been stranded at Dunkirk and seemed about to perish or be captured.{{sfn|Churchill|2003|p=212}} In his "we shall fight on the beaches" speech on 4 June, he hailed their rescue as a "miracle of deliverance".{{sfn|Safire|2004|p=146}}After Nazi Germany invaded Poland in September 1939, France and the British Empire declared war on Germany and imposed an economic blockade. The British Expeditionary Force (BEF) was sent to help defend France. After the Phoney War of October 1939 to April 1940, Germany invaded Belgium, the Netherlands, and France on 10 May 1940. Three of their panzer corps attacked through the Ardennes and drove northwest to the English Channel. By 21 May German forces had trapped the BEF, the remains of the Belgian forces, and three French field armies along the northern coast of France. The commander of the BEF, General Viscount Gort, immediately saw evacuation across the Channel as the best course of action, and began planning a withdrawal to Dunkirk, the closest good port.Late on 23 May, a halt order was issued by Generaloberst Gerd von Rundstedt, commander of Army Group A. Adolf Hitler approved the order the next day and had the German High Command send confirmation to the front. Destroying the trapped BEF, French, and Belgian armies was left to the Luftwaffe until the order was rescinded on 26 May. This gave trapped Allied forces time to construct defensive works and pull back large numbers of troops to fight the Battle of Dunkirk. From 28 to 31 May, in the Siege of Lille, the remaining 40,000 men of the once-formidable French First Army fought a delaying action against seven German divisions, including three armoured divisions.On the first day only 7,669 Allied soldiers were evacuated, but by the end of the eighth day, 338,226 of them had been rescued by a hastily assembled fleet of over 800 boats. Many troops were able to embark from the harbour's protective mole onto 39 British Royal Navy destroyers, four Royal Canadian Navy destroyers,{{sfn|McIntyre|2017}} at least three French destroyers, and a variety of civilian merchant ships, while others had to wade out from the beaches, waiting for hours in shoulder-deep water. Some were ferried to the larger ships by what came to be known as the Little Ships of Dunkirk, a flotilla of hundreds of merchant marine boats, fishing boats, pleasure craft, yachts, and lifeboats called into service from Britain. The BEF lost 68,000 soldiers during the French campaign and had to abandon nearly all of its tanks, vehicles, and equipment. In his speech to the House of Commons on 4 June, Churchill reminded the country that "we must be very careful not to assign to this deliverance the attributes of a victory. Wars are not won by evacuations."{{sfn|Churchill|1949|p=115}}


{{Further|Battle of France}}In September 1939, after Nazi Germany invaded Poland, the United Kingdom sent the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) to aid in the defence of France, landing at Cherbourg, Nantes, and Saint-Nazaire. By May 1940 the force consisted of ten divisions in three corps under the command of General John Vereker, 6th Viscount Gort.{{sfn|Thompson|2011|p=9}}{{sfn|Thompson|2011|p=7}} Working with the BEF were the Belgian Army and the French First, Seventh, and Ninth Armies.{{sfn|Thompson|2011|p=305}}During the 1930s, the French had constructed the Maginot Line, a series of fortifications along their border with Germany. This line had been designed to deter a German invasion across the Franco-German border and funnel an attack into Belgium, which could then be met by the best divisions of the French Army. Thus, any future war would take place outside of French territory, avoiding a repeat of the First World War.{{sfn|Jackson|2003|p=33}}{{sfn|Roth|2010|p=6}} The area immediately to the north of the Maginot Line was covered by the heavily wooded Ardennes region,{{sfn|Kaufmann|Kaufmann|2007|p=23}} which French General Philippe Pétain declared to be "impenetrable" as long as "special provisions" were taken. He believed that any enemy force emerging from the forest would be vulnerable to a pincer attack and destroyed. The French commander-in-chief, Maurice Gamelin, also believed the area to be of a limited threat, noting that it "never favoured large operations".{{sfn|Jackson|2003|p=32}} With this in mind, the area was left lightly defended.{{sfn|Jackson|2003|p=33}}The initial plan for the German invasion of France called for an encirclement attack through the Netherlands and Belgium, avoiding the Maginot Line.{{sfn|Melvin|2010|p=140}} Erich von Manstein, then Chief of Staff of the German Army Group A, prepared the outline of a different plan and submitted it to the OKH (German High Command) via his superior, Generaloberst Gerd von Rundstedt.{{sfn|Lemay|2010|pp=98–102}}{{sfn|Forczyk|2010|pp=11–14}} Manstein's plan suggested that panzer divisions should attack through the Ardennes, then establish bridgeheads on the Meuse River and rapidly drive to the English Channel. The Germans would thus cut off the Allied armies in Belgium. This part of the plan later became known as the Sichelschnitt ("sickle cut").{{sfn|Forczyk|2010|pp=11–14}}{{sfn|Melvin|2010|p=145}} Adolf Hitler approved a modified version of Manstein's ideas, today known as the Manstein Plan, after meeting with him on 17 February.{{sfn|Melvin|2010|p=132}}(File:16May-21May Battle of Belgium.PNG|thumb|Situation on 21 May 1940; German forces occupy the area shaded in pink)On 10 May, Germany invaded Belgium and the Netherlands.{{sfn|Shirer|1960|p=713}} Army Group B, under Generaloberst Fedor von Bock, attacked into Belgium, while the three panzer corps of Army Group A under Rundstedt swung around to the south and drove for the Channel.{{sfn|Thompson|2011|p=37}} The BEF advanced from the Belgian border to positions along the River Dyle within Belgium, where they fought elements of Army Group B starting on 10 May.{{sfn|Thompson|2011|p=26}}{{sfn|Churchill|1949|loc=Map, p. 33}} They were ordered to begin a fighting withdrawal to the Scheldt River on 14 May when the Belgian and French positions on their flanks failed to hold.{{sfn|Atkin|1990|pp=74–75}} During a visit to Paris on 17 May, Prime Minister Winston Churchill was astonished to learn from Gamelin that the French had committed all their troops to the ongoing engagements and had no strategic reserves.{{sfn|Churchill|1949|p=47}} On 19 May, Gort met with French General Gaston Billotte, commander of the French First Army and overall coordinator of the Allied forces. Billotte revealed that the French had no troops between the Germans and the sea. Gort immediately saw that evacuation across the Channel was the best course of action, and began planning a withdrawal to Dunkirk, the closest location with good port facilities.{{sfn|Thompson|2011|pp=64–65}} Surrounded by marshes, Dunkirk boasted old fortifications and the longest sand beach in Europe, where large groups could assemble.{{sfn|Atkin|1990|p=123}} On 20 May, on Churchill's suggestion, the Admiralty began arranging for all available small vessels to be made ready to proceed to France.{{sfn|Churchill|1949|pp=58–59}} After continued engagements and a failed Allied attempt on 21 May at Arras to cut through the German spearhead,{{sfn|Thompson|2011|p=98}} the BEF was trapped, along with the remains of the Belgian forces and the three French armies, in an area along the coast of northern France and Belgium.{{sfn|Shirer|1960|p=728}}{{sfn|Thompson|2011|loc=Map, p. 61}}


File:Gort and Blount at Arras WWII IWM O 177.jpg|thumb|Lord Gort (gesturing, at centre) was commander of the British Expeditionary Force. ]]Without informing the French, the British began planning on 20 May for Operation Dynamo, the evacuation of the BEF.{{sfn|Atkin|1990|p=123}}{{sfn|Churchill|1949|pp=58–59}} This planning was headed by Vice Admiral Bertram Ramsay at the naval headquarters below Dover Castle, from which he briefed Churchill as it was under way.{{sfn|Lord|1983|pp=43–44}} Ships began gathering at Dover for the evacuation.{{sfn|Churchill|1949|p=100}} On 20 May, the BEF sent Brigadier Gerald Whitfield to Dunkirk to start evacuating unnecessary personnel. Overwhelmed by what he later described as "a somewhat alarming movement towards Dunkirk by both officers and men", due to a shortage of food and water, he had to send many along without thoroughly checking their credentials. Even officers ordered to stay behind to aid the evacuation disappeared onto the boats.{{sfn|Atkin|1990|p=124}}On 22 May, Churchill ordered the BEF to attack southward in coordination with the French First Army under General Georges Blanchard to reconnect with the remainder of the French forces.{{sfn|Churchill|1949|p=65}} This proposed action was dubbed the Weygand Plan after General Maxime Weygand, appointed Supreme Commander after Gamelin's dismissal on 18 May.{{sfn|Churchill|1949|p=57}} On 25 May, Gort had to abandon any hope of achieving this objective and withdrew on his own initiative, along with Blanchard's forces, behind the Lys Canal, part of a canal system that reached the sea at Gravelines.{{sfn|Churchill|1949|p=84}} Sluice gates had already been opened all along the canal to flood the system and create a barrier (the Canal Line) against the German advance.{{sfn|Churchill|1949|pp=78–79}}

Battle of Dunkirk

File:Dunkirksoldier1.JPG|left|thumb|Soldiers were Shirer|1960|loc=Footnote, p. 736}}By 24 May, the Germans had captured the port of Boulogne and surrounded Calais.{{sfn|Shirer|1960|p=728}} The engineers of the 2nd Panzer Division under Generalmajor Rudolf Veiel built five bridges over the Canal Line and only one British battalion barred the way to Dunkirk.{{sfn|Lemay|2010|p=152}} On 23 May, at the suggestion of Fourth Army commander Generalfeldmarschall Günther von Kluge, Rundstedt had ordered the panzer units to halt, concerned about the vulnerability of his flanks and the question of supply to his forward troops.{{sfn|Noakes|Pridham|1988|p=167}}{{sfn|Army Group A War Diary}}{{sfn|OKW Jodl Diary}}{{sfn|Lord|1983|pp=28–35}} He was also concerned that the marshy ground around Dunkirk would prove unsuitable for tanks and he wished to conserve them for later operations (in some units, tank losses were 30–50 per cent).{{sfn|Cooper|1978| pp=230–31}}{{sfn|Atkin|1990|p=120}} Hitler was also apprehensive, and on a visit to Army Group A headquarters on 24 May, he endorsed the order.{{sfn|Cooper|1978| pp=230–31}}{{sfn|Lord|1983|pp=28–35}}Air Marshal Hermann Göring urged Hitler to let the Luftwaffe (aided by Army Group B{{sfn|Lemay|2010|p=150}}) finish off the British, to the consternation of General Franz Halder, who noted in his diary that the Luftwaffe was dependent upon the weather and aircrews were worn out after two weeks of battle.{{sfn|Noakes|Pridham|1988|pp=167–68}} Rundstedt issued another order, which was sent uncoded. It was picked up by the Royal Air Force (RAF) Y service intelligence network at 12:42: "By order of the Fuhrer ... attack north-west of Arras is to be limited to the general line Lens–Bethune–Aire–St Omer–Gravelines. The Canal will not be crossed."{{sfn|Costello|1991|p=175}}{{sfn|Hinsley|1994|p=31}} Later that day, Hitler issued Directive 13, which called for the Luftwaffe to defeat the trapped Allied forces and stop their escape.{{sfn|Cooper|1978|p=232}} At 15:30 on 26 May, Hitler ordered the panzer groups to continue their advance, but most units took another 16 hours to attack.{{sfn|Cooper|1978|p=235}} The delay gave the Allies time to prepare defences vital for the evacuation and prevented the Germans from stopping the Allied retreat from Lille.{{sfn|Noakes|Pridham|1988|p=168}}The halt order has been the subject of much discussion by historians.{{sfn|Churchill|1949|p=76}}{{sfn|Lemay|2010|p=149}} Guderian considered the failure to order a timely assault on Dunkirk to be one of the major German mistakes on the Western Front.{{sfn|Guderian|2001|loc=Footnote, p. 117}} Rundstedt called it "one of the great turning points of the war",{{sfn|Shirer|1960|p=731}} and Manstein described it as "one of Hitler's most critical mistakes".{{sfn|Lemay|2010|p=153}} B. H. Liddell Hart interviewed many of the generals after the war and put together a picture of Hitler's strategic thinking on the matter. Hitler believed that once Britain's troops left continental Europe, they would never return.{{sfn|Hart|1948}}{{page needed|date=July 2015}}


26–27 May

The retreat was undertaken amid chaotic conditions, with abandoned vehicles blocking the roads and a flood of refugees heading in the opposite direction.{{sfn|Atkin|1990|p=145}}{{sfn|Thompson|2011|pp=59, 75}} Due to wartime censorship and the desire to keep up British morale, the full extent of the unfolding disaster at Dunkirk was not initially publicised. A special service attended by King George VI was held in Westminster Abbey on 26 May, which was declared a national day of prayer.{{sfn|Miller|1997|p=83}}{{sfn|Atkin|1990|p=122}} The Archbishop of Canterbury led prayers "for our soldiers in dire peril in France". Similar prayers were offered in synagogues and churches throughout the UK that day, confirming to the public their suspicion of the desperate plight of the troops.{{sfn|Gelb|1990|p=82}} Just before 19:00 on 26 May, Churchill ordered Dynamo to begin, by which time 28,000 men had already departed.{{sfn|Atkin|1990|p=123}} Initial plans called for the recovery of 45,000 men from the BEF within two days, at which time German troops were expected to block further evacuation. Only 25,000 men escaped during this period, including 7,669 on the first day.{{sfn|Liddell Hart|1999|p=78}}{{sfn|Thompson|2011|p=306}}(File:Wounded British soldiers evacuated from Dunkirk make their way up the gangplank from a destroyer at Dover, 31 May 1940. H1623.jpg|thumb|Troops evacuated from Dunkirk arrive at Dover, 31 May 1940)On 27 May, the first full day of the evacuation, one cruiser, eight destroyers, and 26 other craft were active.{{sfn|Churchill|1949|p=106}} Admiralty officers combed nearby boatyards for small craft that could ferry personnel from the beaches out to larger craft in the harbour, as well as larger vessels that could load from the docks. An emergency call was put out for additional help, and by 31 May nearly four hundred small craft were voluntarily and enthusiastically taking part in the effort.{{sfn|Churchill|1949|pp=100–01}}The same day, the Luftwaffe heavily bombed Dunkirk, both the town and the dock installations. As the water supply was knocked out, the resulting fires could not be extinguished.{{sfn|Atkin|1990|p=149}} An estimated thousand civilians were killed, one-third of the remaining population of the town.{{sfn|Atkin|1990|p=150}} The Luftwaffe was met by 16 squadrons of the Royal Air Force, who claimed 38 kills on 27 May while losing 14 aircraft.{{sfn|Atkin|1990|p=149}}{{sfn|Thompson|2011|p=228}} Many more RAF fighters sustained damage and were subsequently written off. On the German side, Kampfgeschwader 2 (KG 2) and KG 3 suffered the heaviest casualties. German losses amounted to 23 Dornier Do 17s. KG 1 and KG 4 bombed the beach and harbour and KG 54 sank the 8,000-ton steamer Aden. Junkers Ju 87 Stuka dive bombers sank the troopship Cote d' Azur. The Luftwaffe engaged with 300 bombers which were protected by 550 fighter sorties, and attacked Dunkirk in twelve raids. They dropped 15,000 high explosive and 30,000 incendiary bombs, destroying the oil tanks and wrecking the harbour.{{sfn|Jackson|1974|pp=116–117}} No. 11 Group RAF flew 22 patrols with 287 aircraft this day, in formations of up to 20 aircraft.{{sfn|Jackson|1974|p=117}}Altogether, over 3,500 sorties were flown in support of Operation Dynamo.{{sfn|Thompson|2011|p=228}} The RAF continued to take a heavy toll on the German bombers throughout the week. Soldiers being bombed and strafed while awaiting transport were for the most part unaware of the efforts of the RAF to protect them, as most of the dogfights took place far from the beaches. As a result, many British soldiers bitterly accused the airmen of doing nothing to help.{{sfn|Shirer|1960|loc=Footnote, p. 736}}On 25 and 26 May, the Luftwaffe focused their attention on Allied pockets holding out at Calais, Lille, and Amiens, and did not attack Dunkirk.{{sfn|Atkin|1990|p=150}} Calais, held by the BEF, surrendered on 26 May.{{sfn|Atkin|1990|p=119}} Remnants of the French First Army, surrounded at Lille, fought off seven German divisions (several of them armoured) until 31 May, when the remaining 35,000 soldiers were forced to surrender after running out of food and ammunition.{{sfn|Churchill|1949|p=97}}{{sfn|Atkin|1990|p=144}} The Germans accorded the honours of war to the defenders of Lille in recognition of their bravery.{{sfn|Fermer|2013|p=208}}

28 May – 4 June

(File:21May-4June1940-Fall Gelb.jpg|thumb|Situation on 4 June 1940; the remaining French rearguard held a sliver of land around Dunkirk)The Belgian Army surrendered on 28 May,{{sfn|Shirer|1960|p=729}} leaving a large gap to the east of Dunkirk. Several British divisions were rushed in to cover that side.{{sfn|Churchill|1949|p=96}} The Luftwaffe flew fewer sorties over Dunkirk on 28 May, switching their attention to the Belgian ports, Ostend and Nieuport. The weather over Dunkirk was not conducive to dive or low-level bombing. The RAF flew 11 patrols and 321 sorties, claiming 23 destroyed for the loss of 13 aircraft.{{sfn|Jackson|1974|p=117}} On 28 May, 17,804 soldiers arrived at British ports.{{sfn|Thompson|2011|p=306}}On 29 May, 47,310 British troops were rescued{{sfn|Thompson|2011|p=306}} as the Luftwaffe{{'}}s Ju 87s exacted a heavy toll on shipping. The British destroyer HMS Grenade was sunk and the French destroyer Mistral was crippled while her sister ships, each laden with 500 men, were damaged by near misses. British destroyers Jaguar and Verity were badly damaged but escaped the harbour. Two trawlers disintegrated in the attack. Later, the passenger steamer {{SS|Fenella|1936|6}} sank with 600 men aboard at the pier but the men were able to get off. The paddle steamer {{HMS|Crested Eagle}} suffered a direct hit, caught fire, and sank with severe casualties. The raiders also destroyed the two rail-owned ships, the {{SS|Lorina|1918|6}} and the {{SS|Normannia|1911|6}}.{{sfn|Smith|2011|p=138}} Of the five major German attacks, just two were contested by RAF fighters; the British lost 16 fighters in nine patrols. German losses amounted to 11 Ju 87s destroyed or damaged.{{sfn|Jackson|1974|p=118}}On 30 May, Churchill received word that all British divisions were now behind the defensive lines, along with more than half of the French First Army.{{sfn|Churchill|1949|p=97}} By this time, the perimeter ran along a series of canals about {{convert|7|mi}} from the coast, in marshy country not suitable for tanks.{{sfn|Thompson|2011|p=226}} With the docks in the harbour rendered unusable by German air attacks, senior naval officer Captain (later Admiral) William Tennant initially ordered men to be evacuated from the beaches. When this proved too slow, he re-routed the evacuees to two long stone and concrete breakwaters, called the east and west moles, as well as the beaches. Almost 200,000 troops embarked on ships from the east mole (which stretched nearly a mile out to sea) over the next week.{{sfn|Atkin|1990|pp=150–51}} Once more, low clouds kept Luftwaffe activity to a minimum. Nine RAF patrols were mounted, with no German formation encountered.{{sfn|Jackson|1974|p=119}} The following day, the Luftwaffe sank one transport and damaged 12 others for 17 losses; the British claimed 38 kills, which may have been an exaggeration. The RAF and Fleet Air Arm lost 28 aircraft.{{sfn|Jackson|1974|p=119}}Of the total 338,226 soldiers, several hundred were unarmed Indian mule handlers on detachment from the Royal Indian Army Service Corps, forming four of the six units of Force K-6 transport. Cypriot muleteers were also present. Three units were successfully evacuated and one captured.{{sfn|Dunkirk}}{{sfn|Bajwa|2013}}{{sfn|Gojkovic|2017}} Also present at Dunkirk were a small number of French Senegalese soldiers and Moroccans.{{sfn|Shephard|2003|p=169}}{{sfn|Richardson|2010|p=32}}The next day, an additional 53,823 men were embarked,{{sfn|Churchill|1949|p=115}} including the first French soldiers.{{sfn|Murray|Millett|2000|p=80}} Lord Gort and 68,014 men were evacuated on 31 May,{{sfn|Keegan|1989|p=81}} leaving Major-General Harold Alexander in command of the rearguard.{{sfn|Churchill|1949|p=109}} A further 64,429 Allied soldiers departed on 1 June,{{sfn|Thompson|2011|p=306}} before the increasing air attacks prevented further daylight evacuation.{{sfn|Liddell Hart|1999|p=79}} The British rearguard of 4,000 men left on the night of 2–3 June.{{sfn|Shirer|1960|p=737}} An additional 75,000 French troops were retrieved over the nights of 2–4 June,{{sfn|Thompson|2011|p=306}}{{sfn|Liddell Hart|1999|p=80}} before the operation finally ended. The remainder of the rearguard, 40,000 French troops, surrendered on 4 June.{{sfn|Shirer|1960|p=737}} Churchill made a point of stating in his "We shall fight on the beaches" address in the House on 4 June that the evacuation had been made possible through the efforts of the RAF.{{sfn|Shirer|1960|loc=Footnote, p. 736}}


Evacuation routes

(File:Dunkirk Evacuation shipping routes.png|thumb|Map of the three evacuation routes)(File:The Evacuation From Dunkirk, May - June 1940 H1647.jpg|thumb|Evacuated troops arrive in Dover)Three routes were allocated to the evacuating vessels. The shortest was Route Z, a distance of {{convert|39|nmi|km}}, but it entailed hugging the French coast and thus ships using it were subject to bombardment from on-shore batteries, particularly in daylight hours.{{sfn|Thompson|2011|loc=Map, p. 223}}{{sfn|Atkin|1990|p=166}} Route X, although the safest from shore batteries, travelled through a particularly heavily mined portion of the Channel. Ships on this route travelled {{convert|55|nmi|km}} north out of Dunkirk, proceeded through the Ruytingen Pass,{{sfn|Gardner|1949|p=20}} and headed towards the North Goodwin Lightship before heading south around the Goodwin Sands to Dover.{{sfn|Thompson|2011|loc=Map, p. 223}}{{sfn|Atkin|1990|p=166}} The route was safest from surface attacks, but the nearby minefields and sandbanks meant it could not be used at night.{{sfn|Thompson|2011|p=224}} The longest of the three was Route Y, a distance of {{convert|87|nmi|km}}; using this route increased the sailing time to four hours, double the time required for Route Z. This route followed the French coast as far as Bray-Dunes, then turned north-east until reaching the Kwinte Buoy.{{sfn|Dildy|2010|p=50}} Here, after making an approximately 135-degree turn, the ships sailed west to the North Goodwin Lightship and headed south around the Goodwin Sands to Dover.{{sfn|Thompson|2011|loc=Map, p. 223}}{{sfn|Atkin|1990|p=166}} Ships on Route Y were the most likely to be attacked by German surface vessels, submarines, and the Luftwaffe.{{sfn|Thompson|2011|p=222}}


{{See also|List of ships at Dunkirk}}(File:Troops evacuated from Dunkirk on a destroyer about to berth at Dover, 31 May 1940. H1637.jpg|thumb|Troops evacuated from Dunkirk on a destroyer about to berth at Dover, 31 May 1940)The Royal Navy provided the anti-aircraft cruiser HMS Calcutta, 39 destroyers, and many other craft. The Merchant Navy supplied passenger ferries, hospital ships, and other vessels. Britain's Belgian, Dutch, Canadian,{{sfn|McIntyre|2017}} and French allies provided vessels as well. Admiral Ramsay arranged for around a thousand copies to be made of the required charts, had buoys laid around the Goodwin Sands and down to Dunkirk, and organised the flow of shipping.{{sfn|Thompson|2011|p=224}} Larger ships such as destroyers were able to carry about 900 men per trip. The soldiers mostly travelled on the upper decks for fear of being trapped below if the ship sank.{{sfn|Thompson|2011|p=229}} After the loss on 29 May of 19 British and French navy ships plus three of the larger requisitioned vessels, the Admiralty withdrew their eight best destroyers for the future defence of the country.{{sfn|Atkin|1990|p=174}}{| class="wikitable plainrowheaders" style="text-align: center;"Churchill|1949|p=102}}! scope="col" | Type of vessel! scope="col" | Total engaged! scope="col" | Sunk! scope="col" | Damaged! scope="row" | Cruisers| 1| 0| 1! scope="row" | Destroyers| 39| 6| 19! scope="row" | Sloops, corvettes and gunboats| 9| 1| 1! scope="row" | Minesweepers| 36| 5| 7! scope="row" | Trawlers and drifters| 113| 17| 2! scope="row" | Special service vessels| 3| 1| 0! scope="row" | Ocean boarding vessels| 3| 1| 1! scope="row" | Torpedo boats and anti-submarine boats| 13| 0| 0! scope="row" | Former Dutch schuyts with naval crews| 40| 4| Unknown! scope="row" | Yachts with naval crews| 26| 3| Unknown! scope="row" | Personnel ships| 45| 8| 8! scope="row" | Hospital carriers| 8| 1| 5! scope="row" | Naval motor boats| 12| 6| Unknown! scope="row" | Tugboats| 34| 3| Unknown! scope="row" | Other small craft{{refn|group=note|Does not include ships' lifeboats and some unrecorded small privately owned craft.{{sfn|Churchill|1949|p=102}} }}| 311| 170| Unknown! scope="row" | Total British ships| 693| 226| {{reflist|group=note}}{| class="wikitable plainrowheaders" style="text-align: center;"Churchill|1949|p=102}}! scope="col" | Type of vessel! scope="col" | Total engaged! scope="col" | Sunk! scope="col" | Damaged! scope="row" | Warships (all types)| 49| 8| Unknown! scope="row" | Other vessels| 119| 9| Unknown! scope="row" | Total Allied ships| 168| 17|! scope="row" | Grand total| 861| 243|

Little ships

{{See also|Royal National Lifeboat Institution}}A wide variety of small vessels from all over the south of England were pressed into service to aid in the Dunkirk evacuation. They included speedboats, Thames vessels, car ferries, pleasure craft, and many other types of small craft.{{sfn|Thompson|2011|p=234}} The most useful proved to be the motor lifeboats, which had a reasonably good capacity and speed.{{sfn|Thompson|2011|p=234}} Some boats were requisitioned without the owner's knowledge or consent. Agents of the Ministry of Shipping, accompanied by a naval officer, scoured the Thames for likely vessels, had them checked for seaworthiness, and took them downriver to Sheerness, where naval crews were to be placed aboard. Due to shortages of personnel, many small craft crossed the Channel with civilian crews.{{sfn|Atkin|1990|p=198}}The first of the "little ships" arrived at Dunkirk on 28 May.{{sfn|Thompson|2011|p=229}} The wide sand beaches meant that large vessels could not get anywhere near the shore, and even small craft had to stop about {{convert|100|yd|m}} from the waterline and wait for the soldiers to wade out.{{sfn|Thompson|2011|p=225}} In many cases, personnel would abandon their boat upon reaching a larger ship, and subsequent evacuees had to wait for boats to drift ashore with the tide before they could make use of them.{{sfn|Atkin|1990|p=199}} In most areas on the beaches, soldiers queued up with their units and patiently awaited their turn to leave. But at times, panicky soldiers had to be warned off at gunpoint when they attempted to rush to the boats out of turn.{{sfn|Atkin|1990|pp=167–68}} In addition to ferrying out on boats, soldiers at De Panne and Bray-Dunes constructed improvised jetties by driving rows of abandoned vehicles onto the beach at low tide, anchoring them with sandbags, and connecting them with wooden walkways.{{sfn|Atkin|1990|pp=214–15}}



Analysis{|class"wikitable plainrowheaders" alignright style"text-align: right; margin-left: 2px;"Thompson|2011|p306}}

! scope="col" | Date! scope="col" | Beaches! scope="col" | Harbour! scope="col" | Total! scope="row" | 27 May| —| 7,669| 7,669! scope="row" | 28 May| 5,930| 11,874| 17,804! scope="row" | 29 May| 13,752| 33,558| 47,310! scope="row" | 30 May| 29,512| 24,311| 53,823! scope="row" | 31 May| 22,942| 45,072| 68,014! scope="row" | 1 June| 17,348| 47,081| 64,429! scope="row" | 2 June| 6,695| 19,561| 26,256! scope="row" | 3 June| 1,870| 24,876| 26,746! scope="row" | 4 June| 622| 25,553| 26,175! scope="row" | Totals| 98,671| 239,555| 338,226{{See also|Battle of Abbeville|Operation Cycle|Operation Ariel}}Before the operation was completed, the prognosis had been gloomy, with Churchill warning the House of Commons on 28 May to expect "hard and heavy tidings".{{sfn|Churchill|1949|p=99}} Subsequently, Churchill referred to the outcome as a "miracle", and the British press presented the evacuation as a "disaster turned to triumph" so successfully, that Churchill had to remind the country, in a speech to the House of Commons on 4 June, that "we must be very careful not to assign to this deliverance the attributes of a victory. Wars are not won by evacuations."{{sfn|Churchill|1949|p=115}} Andrew Roberts comments that the confusion over the Dunkirk evacuation is illustrated by two of the best books on it being called "Strange Defeat" and "Strange Victory".{{sfn|Roberts|2009|p=37}} Three British divisions and a host of logistic and labour troops were cut off to the south of the Somme by the German "race to the sea". At the end of May, a further two divisions began moving to France with the hope of establishing a Second BEF. The majority of the 51st (Highland) Division was forced to surrender on 12 June, but almost 192,000 Allied personnel, 144,000 of them British, were evacuated through various French ports from 15–25 June under the codename Operation Ariel.{{sfn|Ellis|2004|pp=296–305}} The Germans marched into Paris on 14 June and France surrendered eight days later.{{sfn|Atkin|1990|pp=232–34}}The more than 100,000 French troops evacuated from Dunkirk were quickly and efficiently shuttled to camps in various parts of south-western England, where they were temporarily lodged before being repatriated.{{sfn|Looseley|2005|p=}} British ships ferried French troops to Brest, Cherbourg, and other ports in Normandy and Brittany, although only about half of the repatriated troops were redeployed against the Germans before the surrender of France. For many French soldiers, the Dunkirk evacuation represented only a few weeks' delay before being killed or captured by the German army after their return to France.{{sfn|Mordal|1968|p=496}} Of the French soldiers evacuated from France in June 1940, about 3,000 joined Charles de Gaulle's Free French army in Britain.{{sfn|Nadeau|Barlow|2003|p=89}}In France, the unilateral British decision to evacuate through Dunkirk rather than counter-attack to the south, and the perceived preference of the Royal Navy for evacuating British forces at the expense of the French, led to some bitter resentment. According to Churchill, French Admiral François Darlan originally ordered that the British forces should receive preference, but on 31 May, he intervened at a meeting in Paris to order that the evacuation should proceed on equal terms and that the British would form the rearguard.{{sfn|Churchill|1949|p=111}} In fact, the 35,000 men who finally surrendered after covering the final evacuations were mostly French soldiers of 2nd Light Mechanized Division and the 68th Infantry Division.{{sfn|Atkin|1990|p=219}}{{sfn|Stewart|2008|p=115}} Their resistance allowed the evacuation effort to be extended to 4 June, on which date another 26,175 Frenchmen were transported to England.{{sfn|Thompson|2011|p=306}}The evacuation was presented to the German public as an overwhelming and decisive German victory. On 5 June 1940, Hitler stated "Dunkirk has fallen! 40,000 French and English troops are all that remains of the formerly great armies. Immeasurable quantities of materiel have been captured. The greatest battle in the history of the world has come to an end."{{efn|Original German: "Dünkirchen ist gefallen! 40 000 Franzosen und Engländer sind als letzter Rest einstiger großer Armeen gefangen. Unübersehbares Material wurde erbeutet. Damit ist die größte Schlacht der Weltgeschichte beendet."}}{{sfn|Hitler|1940|nopp=y}} Oberkommando der Wehrmacht (OKW, the German armed forces high command) announced the event as "the greatest annihilation battle of all time".{{sfn|OKW|1940|nopp=y}}


File:Wounded French soldier after evacuation from Dunkirk.jpg|thumb|upright=0.7|A wounded French soldier being taken ashore on a stretcher at DoverDoverThe BEF lost 68,000 soldiers (dead, wounded, missing, or captured) from 10 May until the armistice with France on 22 June.{{sfn|Lemay|2010|p=151}} 3,500 British were killed{{sfn|French|2002|p=156}} and 13,053 wounded.{{sfn|Blaxland|1973|p=346}} All the heavy equipment had to be abandoned.{{sfn|Longden|2009|p=11}} Left behind in France were 2,472 guns, 20,000 motorcycles, and almost 65,000 other vehicles; also abandoned were {{convert|416000|ST|t|lk=on|abbr=on}} of stores, more than {{convert|75000|ST|t|abbr=on}} of ammunition and {{convert|162000|ST|t|abbr=on}} of fuel.{{sfn|Longden|2009|p=11}} Almost all of the 445 British tanks that had been sent to France with the BEF were abandoned.{{sfn|Thompson|2011|p=300}}File:Dunkirk 1940 HU1145.jpg|thumb|Isle of Man Steam Packet Company vessel Mona's Queen shortly after striking a mine on the approach to Dunkirk, 29 May 1940]]Six British and three French destroyers were sunk, along with nine other major vessels. In addition, 19 destroyers were damaged.{{sfn|Murray|Millett|2000|p=81}} Over 200 British and Allied sea craft were sunk, with a similar number damaged.{{sfn|Holmes|2001|p=267}} The Royal Navy's most significant losses in the operation were six destroyers:
  • {{HMS|Grafton|H89|2}}, sunk by {{Ship|German submarine|U-62|1939|2}} on 29 May{{sfn|English|1993|p=98}}
  • {{HMS|Grenade|H86|2}}, sunk by air attack at Dunkirk on 29 May{{sfn|English|1993|p=99}}
  • {{HMS|Wakeful|H88|2}}, sunk by a torpedo from the E-boat S-30 on 29 May{{sfn|Atkin|1990|pp=170–71}}
  • {{HMS|Basilisk|H11|2}}, {{HMS|Havant|H32|2}}, and {{HMS|Keith|D06|2}}, sunk by air attack off the beaches on 1 June{{sfn|Atkin|1990|pp=204–05}}
The French Navy lost three destroyers:
  • {{Ship|French destroyer|Bourrasque||2}}, mined off Nieuport on 30 May
  • {{Ship|French destroyer|Siroco||2}}, sunk by the E-boats S-23 and S-26 on 31 May
  • Le Foudroyant, sunk by air attack off the beaches on 1 June
The RAF lost 145 aircraft, of which at least 42 were Spitfires, while the Luftwaffe lost 156 aircraft in operations in the nine days of Operation Dynamo,{{sfn|Atkin|1990|p=206}} including 35 destroyed by Royal Navy ships (plus 21 damaged) during the six days from 27 May to 1 June.{{sfn|Ramsey|1947|loc=Appendix III}}For every seven soldiers who escaped through Dunkirk, one man was left behind as a prisoner of war. The majority of these prisoners were sent on forced marches into Germany. Prisoners reported brutal treatment by their guards, including beatings, starvation, and murder. Another complaint was that German guards kicked over buckets of water that had been left at the roadside by French civilians for the marching prisoners to drink.{{sfn|Longden|2009|p=361}}Many of the prisoners were marched to the city of Trier, with the march taking as long as 20 days. Others were marched to the river Scheldt and were sent by barge to the Ruhr. The prisoners were then sent by rail to prisoner of war camps in Germany.{{sfn|Longden|2009|pp=383–404}} The majority (those below the rank of corporal) then worked in German industry and agriculture for the remainder of the war.{{sfn|Longden|2005|p=260}}Those of the BEF who died or were captured and have no known grave are commemorated on the Dunkirk Memorial.WEB, Dunkirk Memorial, Commonwealth War Graves Commission,weblink 23 July 2016,

Dunkirk jack

{{anchor|Dunkirk jack}}(File:Dunkirk Jack.svg|thumb|95px|Dunkirk Jack)The St George's Cross defaced with the arms of Dunkirk flown from the jack staff is the warranted house flag of the Association of Dunkirk Little Ships. It is known as the Dunkirk jack. The flag is flown only by civilian vessels that took part in the Dunkirk rescue operation.{{sfn|Dunkirk Little Ships Association|2010}}

See also






  • BOOK, Atkin, Ronald, Pillar of Fire: Dunkirk 1940, 1990, Sidgwick & Jackson, London, 0-283-99697-8, harv,
  • NEWS, Bajwa, Mandeep Singh, Force K6: Indian troops in France, 19 May 2013, Hindustan Times,weblink 18 August 2017, harv,
  • WEB, Biswas, Soutik,weblink Does Christopher Nolan's Dunkirk ignore the role of the Indian army?, 27 July 2017, BBC, 5 August 2017, harv,
  • BOOK, Blaxland, Gregory, Destination Dunkirk: The story of Gort's Army, 1973, William Kimber, London, 978-0-7183-0203-0, harv,
  • NEWS, Chessum, Victoria, Harry Garrett, 96, tells of the moment the White Cliffs of Dover came into sight after the war,weblink Kent Online, 9 June 2014, 2 December 2016, harv,
  • BOOK, Churchill, Winston, Winston Churchill, Their Finest Hour, The Second World War, II, 1949, Houghton Mifflin, Boston; Toronto, 396145, harv,
  • BOOK, Churchill, Winston, Never Give In!: The Best of Winston Churchill's Speeches, Churchill, Winston S., Winston Churchill (1940–2010), Wars are not won by evacuations, 4 June 1940, House of Commons, 2003, Hyperion, New York, 1-40130-056-1, harv,
  • BOOK, Cooper, Matthew, The German Army 1933–1945, Its Political and Military Failure, 1978, Mazal Holocaust Collection, Stein and Day, Briarcliff Manor, NY, 0-8128-2468-7, harv,
  • BOOK, Costello, John, Ten Days That Saved the West, 1991, Bantam, London; New York, 978-0-593-01919-1, harv,
  • BOOK, Dildy, Douglas C., Dunkirk 1940: Operation Dynamo, 2010, Osprey, Oxford, 978-1-84603-457-2, harv,
  • BOOK, Ellis, Major L. F., Lionel Ellis,weblink Butler, J. R. M., James Ramsay Montagu Butler, History of the Second World War United Kingdom Military Series, The War in France and Flanders 1939–1940, Naval & Military Press, 2004, 1954, 978-1-84574-056-6, harv,
  • BOOK, English, John, Amazon to Ivanhoe: British Standard Destroyers of the 1930s, 1993, World Ship Society, Kendal, England, 0-905617-64-9, harv,
  • BOOK, Fermer, Douglas, Three German Invasions of France: The Summer Campaigns of 1870, 1914, and 1940, 2013, Pen & Sword Military, Barnsley, 978-1-78159-354-7, harv,
  • BOOK, Forczyk, Robert, Manstein: Leadership – Strategy – Conflict, Osprey, Oxford, 2010, 978-1-84603-221-9, harv,
  • BOOK, French, David, Raising Churchill's Army: The British Army and the War against Germany 1919–1945, 2002, 2000, Oxford University Press, New York, 978-0-19-154253-4, harv,
  • BOOK, Gardner, W. J. R., The Evacuation from Dunkirk: 'Operation Dynamo' 26 May – 4 June 1940, 1949, Routledge, London, 1471-0757, harv,
  • BOOK, Gelb, Norman, Dunkirk: The Incredible Escape, 1990, Michael Joseph, London, 0-7181-3203-3, harv,
  • WEB, Gojkovic, Maria, Cypriots among the forgotten troops of Dunkirk - CyprusBeat,weblink Cyprus Beat, 23 November 2018, 6 August 2017, harv,
  • NEWS, Größte Vernichtungschlacht aller Zeiten,weblink German, 5 June 1940, Fehrbelliner Zeitung, 8 August 2016, {{sfnRef, OKW, 1940, }}
  • BOOK, Guderian, Heinz, Heinz Guderian, Panzer Leader, Hitler's momentous order to stop, 2001, 1952, Da Capo Press, New York, 978-0-306-81101-2, harv,
  • BOOK, Hart, B. H. Liddell, B. H. Liddell Hart, The German Generals Talk, 1948, William Morrow, New York, 978-0-688-06012-1, harv,
  • BOOK, Hinsley, F. H., Harry Hinsley, British Intelligence in the Second World War: Its Influence on Strategy and Operations, History of the Second World War, Abridged, HMSO, London, 1994, 1993, 2nd (rev.), 0-11-630961-X, harv,
  • NEWS, Hitler, Adolf, Adolf Hitler,weblink Tagesbefehl des Fuehrers, 5 June 1940, German, Teltower Kreisblatt, 8 August 2016, harv,
  • BOOK, Holmes, Richard, Richard Holmes (military historian), The Oxford Companion to Military History, Dunkirk evacuation, 2001, Oxford University Press, New York, 0-19-866209-2, harv,
  • BOOK, Jackson, Julian, Julian T. Jackson, The Fall of France: The Nazi Invasion of 1940, Oxford University Press, 2003, Oxford, 978-0-192-80550-8, harv,
  • BOOK, Jackson, Robert, Air War Over France, 1939-1940, 1974, Ian Allan, London, 0-7110-0510-9, harv,
  • DOCUMENT, Jodl, Alfred, OKW Diary, Volume 40, section 25, {{sfnRef, OKW Jodl Diary, }}
  • BOOK, Kaufmann, J. E., Kaufmann, H. W., Fortress France: The Maginot Line and French Defenses in World War II, Stackpole Military History Series, Stackpole, Mechanicsburg, PA, 2007, 978-0-811-73395-3, harv,
  • BOOK, Keegan, John, John Keegan, The Second World War, 1989, Viking, New York, 0-670-82359-7, harv,
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  • BOOK, Liddell Hart, B. H., B. H. Liddell Hart, History of the Second World War, 1999, 1970, Da Capo Press, New York, 0-306-80912-5, harv,
  • BOOK, Longden, Sean, Dunkirk: The Men They Left Behind, 2009, Constable and Robinson, London, 978-1-84529-977-4, harv,
  • BOOK, Longden, Sean, Sean Longden, Hitler's British Slaves: Allied POWs in Germany 1939–1945, 2005, Arris, Gloucestershire, 978-1-84437-060-3, harv,
  • WEB, Looseley, Rhiannon, Le Paradis apres l'Enfer: the French Soldiers Evacuated from Dunkirk in 1940, 2005, MA dissertation History, University of Reading, online,weblinkweblink" title="">weblink 31 March 2016, 7 August 2017, 102786495, harv,
  • BOOK, Lord, Walter, Walter Lord, The Miracle of Dunkirk, 1983, Allen Lane, London, 1-85326-685-X, harv,
  • NEWS, McIntyre, Catherine,weblink How Dunkirk's Canadian hero 'fell through the cracks' of history, 3 August 2017, Macleans, 15 August 2017, harv,
  • BOOK, Melvin, Mungo, Mungo Melvin, Manstein: Hitler's Greatest General, 2010, Weidenfeld & Nicolson, London, 978-0-297-84561-4, harv,
  • BOOK, Miller, Nathan, War at Sea: A Naval History of World War II, 1997, Oxford University Press, New York, 0-19-511038-2, harv,
  • BOOK, Mordal, Jacques, Jacques Mordal, Dunkerque, 1968, Editions France Empire, Paris, French, 2192012, harv,
  • BOOK, Murray, Williamson, Millett, Allan R., A War to Be Won, 2000, Belknap Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 0-674-00163-X, harv,
  • BOOK, Nadeau, Jean-Benoît, Barlow, Julie, Sixty Million Frenchmen Can't Be Wrong: Why We Love France But Not the French, 2003, Naperville, Illinois, Sourcebooks, 978-1-4022-0045-8, harv,
  • BOOK, Noakes, J., Pridham, G., Nazism 1919–1945, Foreign Policy, War and Racial Extermination, 3, 1988, University of Exeter Press, Exeter, 978-0-85989-602-3, harv,
  • JOURNAL, Ramsey, B. H., The Evacuation of the Allied Armies from Dunkirk and Neighbouring Beaches, London Gazette, 17 July 1947, 3295–3318, His Majesty's Stationery Office, London,weblink harv,
  • BOOK, Richardson, Matthew, Tigers at Dunkirk: The Leicestershire Regiment and the Fall of France, 2010, Pen and Sword, Barnsley, 978-1-84884-210-6, harv,
  • BOOK, Roberts, Andrew, Andrew Roberts (historian), Masters and Commanders: The Military Geniuses who Led the West to Victory in World War II, Penguin, 2009, London, 978-0-141-02926-9, harv,
  • BOOK, Roth, Ariel Ilan, Leadership in International Relations: The Balance of Power and the Origins of World War II, 2010, Palgrave Macmillan, New York, 978-0-230-10690-1, harv,
  • BOOK, Safire, William, William Safire, Lend Me Your Ears: Great Speeches in History, 2004, Norton, New York, 0-393-04005-4, harv,
  • BOOK, Shephard, Ben, Ben Shephard (historian), A War of Nerves: Soldiers and Psychiatrists in the Twentieth Century, March 2003, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, 978-0-674-01119-9, harv,
  • BOOK, Shirer, William L., William L. Shirer, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich, 1960, Simon & Schuster, New York, 978-0-671-62420-0, harv,
  • BOOK, Smith, Peter C, Peter C. Smith, The Junkers Ju 87 Stuka: A Complete History, 2011, Crecy, London, 978-0-85979-156-4, harv,
  • WEB, Staff, Dunkirk Evacuation, Encyclopædia Britannica World War II,weblink 9 January 2016, {{sfnRef, Encyclopædia Britannica, }}
  • WEB, Staff, The Royal Indian Army Service Corps,weblink Dunkirk, 18 August 2017, {{sfnRef, Dunkirk, }}
  • BOOK, Stewart, Geoffrey, Dunkirk and the Fall of France, 2008, Pen & Sword Military, Barnsley, 18-44-15803-9, harv,
  • WEB, Sweeting, Adam, Dunkirk: the soldiers left behind, 21 May 2010, The Daily Telegraph,weblink 11 January 2016, harv,
  • WEB, The Association of Dunkirk Little Ships, 2010, The Association of Dunkirk Little Ships,weblink 27 September 2013, {{sfnRef, Dunkirk Little Ships Association, 2010, }}
  • BOOK, Thompson, Julian, Julian Thompson (Royal Marines officer), Dunkirk: Retreat to Victory, 2011, 2008, Arcade, New York, 978-1-61145-314-0, harv,
  • DOCUMENT, War Diary of Army Group A, Volume 40, section 24, {{sfnRef, Army Group A War Diary, }}

Further reading

  • BOOK, Brooke, Alan, Alan Brooke, 1st Viscount Alanbrooke, Danchev, Alex, Todman, Daniel, War Diaries 1939–1945: Field Marshal Lord Alanbrooke, 2001, 1957, University of California Press, Berkeley, 0-520-23301-8,
  • BOOK, Franks, Norman, Norman Franks, The Air Battle of Dunkirk, 1983, William Kimber, London, 0-7183-0349-0,
  • BOOK, Sebag-Montefiore, Hugh, Hugh Sebag-Montefiore, Dunkirk: Fight to the Last Man, 2006, Viking, New York, 0-670-91082-1,
  • BOOK, Weinberg, Gerhard L., Gerhard Weinberg, A World at Arms: A Global History of World War II, 1994, Cambridge University Press, New York, 0-521-44317-2,
  • BOOK, Wilmot, Chester, The Struggle for Europe, 1986, Carroll & Graf, New York, 0-88184-257-5,

External links

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