The Miracle of Dunkirk
June 4, 1940 - Today was the tenth and final day of Operation Dynamo, the code name for the evacuation of Dunkirk, France during World War II.
German troops had cut off hundreds of thousands of British, French and Belgian troops following the Battle of Dunkirk. The only hope for their rescue was a massive flotilla of 900 naval and civilian ships that sailed across the English Channel and ferried the stranded soldiers to safety. Over 700 of the vessels were the so-called "Little Ships" of Dunkirk. These were fishing boats, pleasure craft and merchant marine vessels that were called into heroic action. All told, the evacuation safely delivered over 338,000 troops back to England.
The mission became a much needed morale boost to the beleaguered British, and the rescued forces would live to fight another day. For their part, the Germans recognized their lost opportunity. Their failure to capture the Allied forces at Dunkirk was one of the greatest blunders of the war.
One of the little known stories behind the "Miracle of Dunkirk" is that Hitler actually halted the advance of his tanks due to the misreading of a map. He feared his army's advance would become bogged down in the marshy lowlands depicted on his geological map of the region. The reality was that the land was dry and his tanks would have easily traversed the terrain. The confused delay allowed the British to pull off one of history's most amazing rescues.