Christopher Nolan’s World War II epic Dunkirk is currently dominating theaters among critics and moviegoers.
The film tells the true story of the sea evacuation of nearly 340,000 Allied soldiers from Dunkirk, France in the face of German assault in summer 1940.
Advertisement - story continues below
At the UK Express, James Moore and Reiss Smith have compiled forty staggering facts about the historical event that inspired the film. Let’s take a look at the top eleven:
1. During May 1940 the so-called “ phoney war” came to an end as the Germans swept through Belgium and Northern France in a Blitzkrieg that left many soldiers of the British Expeditionary Force stranded as they were pushed back towards the sea.
2. The new prime minister, Winston Churchill, ordered the BEF’s commander, Lord Gort, to evacuate as many troops back to Britain as possible as the army retreated to the area around the port of Dunkirk.
3. On May 20 the British began formulating Operation Dynamo, led by Vice-Admiral Bertram Ramsay.
It was named after the dynamo room in the Dover cliffs where their operation HQ was based.
4. “Nothing but a miracle can save the BEF now,” said General Alan Brooke.
5. Initially it was estimated that just 45,000 men could be evacuated in 48 hours. Instead the operation was to become the biggest evacuation in military history.
6. A call was sent out for as many naval vessels as possible to help the Royal Navy – including small craft that could get close to the waiting soldiers in the shallow waters.
7. British civilians responded in their droves with everything from private yachts, motor launches, lifeboats, paddle steamers and barges joining the effort.
The craft came from as far away as the Isle of Man.
8. The smallest boat to take part was the Tamzine, a 14ft open-topped fishing boat, now in the Imperial War Museum.
9. On the eve of the operation a national day of prayer was declared with King George VI attending a special service in Westminster Abbey.
10. The evacuation began on May 27. Just 8,000 soldiers were rescued.
11. But over the next eight days a total of 338,226 Allied soldiers were successfully brought back across the English Channel while under attack on all sides.
Click on over to The Express for the rest.
For such a noble departure from Hollywood’s usual vapid, narcissism-enforcing fare, he deserves our thanks.