Introduction: Great Escape at Dunkirk (03:43)
Adolf Hitler invaded France; 400,000 French soldiers were trapped on a beach. A makeshift armada rescued the men, denying Hitler a decisive victory. America would not have entered the war if Britain had reached an agreement with the Nazi Party. (Credits)
French Invasion (04:19)
The bomb squad carried out a controlled detonation after two unexploded World War II artillery shells were uncovered. The Luftwaffe and Panzer tanks attacked Allied troops on the beaches. A month earlier, the British Expeditionary Force joined French troops in northern France to prevent a Nazi invasion through Belgium.
Surrounded by Nazis (04:31)
Retreating French and British troops entered Dunkirk. Hermann Göring convinced Hitler that the Luftwaffe could defeat the Allied forces. The Stuka bomber attacked with steep dives.
R.A.F. Fighters (03:49)
The Hawker Hurricane contained eight Browning .303 machine guns. Luftwaffe pilots were more experienced due to the Spanish Civil War. The National Archives released World War II files that proved over 200 airmen failed to return from a mission during the Dunkirk operation.
Role of the R.A.F. (07:37)
Most incidents of downed aircraft occurred inland. A Mark I Supermarine Spitfire that crashed in a field east of England flew in Dunkirk a month prior. An aluminum skin was riveted to the frame to make the aircraft lighter and stiffer.
Spitfire Squadrons (02:31)
Squadron Leader Geoffrey Stephenson reported that 12 spitfires held off an attack force of 50 German aircraft. Spitfire N3200 became a popular tourist attraction for occupying Nazi soldiers. Pilots modified planes by adding personal mirrors.
Defending Great Britain (01:59)
Kesselring admitted that the Spitfires made Luftwaffe air operations difficult and costly. The R.A.F. held back most of its fighters in anticipation of a United Kingdom invasion; 200 pilots flew 2,800 missions in nine days.
"The First Secret Weapon" (05:56)
Hitler laid over 1,000 undetectable sea mines in the waters around Great Britain. The H.M.S. Belfast's keel was distorted as it left the Firth of Forth. Scientists at the naval school determined that magnetism triggered the bomb's detonation.
Stopping Mine Detonation (02:23)
Scientists created an artificial magnetic field through degaussing. Charles Goodeve invented a way to magnetize an entire ship.
Saving Allied Soldiers (03:42)
Churchill ordered 400 ships wiped with Goodeve's technique and a full-scale evacuation; ships began loading men from the Mole. "Operation Dynamo" was the biggest maritime escape in history. Hitler rescinded the halt order and Panzer tanks advanced toward Dunkirk.
Lorry Pier (01:47)
Loading 600 men took eight hours. Abandoned trucks were used to create a walkway to boats that shuttled Allied soldiers to larger vessels.
"Operation Dynamo" (04:10)
Halifax was neutralized after Churchill delivered a speech to his cabinet about not ending the war. The Luftwaffe bombed large ships shuttling soldiers. A torpedo hit the H.M.S. Wakeful, breaking it apart; 600 soldiers drowned.
"Dunkirk Little Ships" (05:23)
Yachts, fishing boats, launches, and fireboats shuttled soldiers to larger vessels. Operation Dynamo saved 200,000 British troops and 140,000 soldiers trapped at Dunkirk. Churchill told the British people that it was "a miracle of deliverance."
Credits: Great Escape at Dunkirk (00:51)
Credits: Great Escape at Dunkirk
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