Saved From Dunkirk

Roger Hudson detailes how 122,000 French troops were evacuated from Dunkirk to Britain in May 1940. 

French troops in a Great Western carriage and English women and children wave to each other at a station in Kent on May 31st, 1940, the first day that sizeable numbers of French will be evacuated alongside British soldiers. Weygand, the French commander-in-chief, only gave orders for an evacuation of his men on May 29th and today, at a meeting of the Supreme War Council in Paris, Churchill will persuade him there is no need to hold Dunkirk indefinitely. The French premier Reynaud will point out that only 15,000 French have been evacuated compared with 150,000 British, so Churchill, desperate to keep the French fighting, says henceforth it should be on a 50-50 basis and follows that up in his schoolboy French: ‘Partage – bras dessus, bras dessous.’ General Alexander, commanding the British at Dunkirk, meanwhile agrees with Eden and the Cabinet in London that the evacuation must be completed by the night of June 1st-2nd.  

To read this article in full you need to be either a print + archive subscriber, or else have purchased access to the online archive.

If you are already a subscriber, please ensure you are logged in. 

Buy Subscription | Buy Online Access | Log In

If you are logged in and still cannot read the article, please email

Get Miscellanies, our free weekly long read, in your inbox every week