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. [124] Of the French soldiers evacuated from France in June 1940, about 3,000 joined Charles de Gaulle's Free French army in Britain. [75] No. [64][65] The Archbishop of Canterbury led prayers "for our soldiers in dire peril in France". As a result, many British soldiers bitterly accused the airmen of doing nothing to help, reportedly leading to some army troops accosting and insulting RAF personnel once they returned to England. Such mass population movement both helped and hindered the French army. Later, the passenger steamer SS Fenella sank with 600 men aboard at the pier but the men were able to get off. [86] Almost 200,000 troops embarked on ships from the east mole (which stretched nearly a mile out to sea) over the next week. As the German ring closed in around the allied troops around Dunkirk, the 1st Army found itself at Lille. Operation Dynamo (the code name for the Dunkirk evacuation) took place between May 26 and June 4, 1940. [143], For every seven soldiers who escaped through Dunkirk, one man was left behind as a prisoner of war. Three of those weeks were during the devastating defeat of the British Army at Dunkirk. [115] In most areas on the beaches, soldiers queued up with their units and patiently awaited their turn to leave. Britain's Belgian, Dutch, Canadian,[4] Polish,[108] and French allies provided vessels as well. 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. However, analysis has revealed new ideas could spread rapidly as communities were interconnected, creating a surprisingly unified culture in Europe. But the story of the French army after Dunkirk is altogether less glorious, and perhaps because of that, less widely remembered. [78] By this time, the perimeter ran along a series of canals about 7 miles (11 km) from the coast, in marshy country not suitable for tanks. [137] The Royal Navy's most significant losses in the operation were six destroyers: 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,[142] including 35 destroyed by Royal Navy ships (plus 21 damaged) during the six days from 27 May to 1 June. [105] 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. [50] Rundstedt issued another order, which was sent uncoded. It is estimated that between 50,000 and 90,000 soldiers of the French army were killed in the fighting of May and June 1940. Teaching Fellow in French, University of Leeds. [99] 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. The figure I’ve seen is some 16,000. The moles were not designed to dock ships, but despite this, the majority of troops rescued from Dunkirk were taken off this way. Britain had the only 100 per cent mechanised army in 1940. There were numerous massacres of west and central African troops in eastern France by the German army, who after separating them from their white officers, shot them. [69] 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. 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