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.
8. The smallest boat to take part was the Tamzine, a 14ft open-topped fi shing 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.
14. Around 200,000 men were picked up from the Dunkirk Mole – a long stone and wooden jetty at the mouth of the port.
Soldiers had to wait patiently whil e under attack from enemy aircraft.
15. The rest of the men were evacuated from the beaches, often having to wait hours in shoulder -deep water.
16. Around 700 “little ships ” took part often with civilians at the helm, picking up soldiers from the shallows.
They would then deliver the men to larger ships or take them all the way home.
17. Some were amazed at the patience of the troops. Signaller Alfred Baldwin recalled: “You had the impression of people standing waiting for a bus. There was no pushing or shoving.”
A paddle steamer called the Medway Queen made a total of seven round trips to Dunkirk and managed to rescue 7,000 men in total.
19. The Royal Daffodil, a Mersey ferry that also took part, was attacked by six German aircraft.
Despite being holed below the water line and having a bullet fly within inches of the fuel tank she still managed to limp back to port with her human cargo.
23. A restored Spitfire which crashed on a French beach during the days of the period of the evacuation is expected to fetch £2.5million.
24. During the evacuation lorries were lashed together in the sea to construct makeshift jetties to help get soldiers aboard boats.
25. More than 200 ships and boats were lost during the evacuation with many tragedies . On May 29 the destroyer Wakeful was torpedoed and sank in 15 seconds with the loss of 600 lives. 26It is estimated that around 3,500 British were killed at sea or on the beaches and more than 1,000 Dunkirk citizens in air raids.
27. The overall success of the Dunkirk operation was partly down to British units such as the 51st Highland Division fighting a fi erce rear-guard action.
28. In the retreat to Dunkirk some units had been ordered to “fight to the last man”.
29. During the escape to Dunkirk there were incredible acts of bravery such as that of Major Gus Jennings who died smothering a German stick bomb at Esquelbecq trying to save his fellow soldiers.
30. Then there was Captain Marcus Ervine-Andrews, who was awarded the VC after he single-handedly held off 17 Germans defending part of the Dunkirk perimeter, then led eight of his men to safety, wading through the canals in chin-high water.
32. Around 40,000 British troops never made it back across the Channel and became P oWs.
33. Many of those ended up having to endure forced marches into Germany and served as slave labour for the Nazis, including working in mines and factories .
34. But a few of those left behind, such as Bill Lacey from Devon, made dramatic escapes. He stole a French fi shing vessel and sailed it back to Britain on his own. 35 Also left behind in France was a huge amount of British military equipment including 2,400 artillery guns, 65,000 vehicles and 68,000 tonnes of ammunition. Some 445 British tanks were also lost. 36 Churchill hailed Dunkirk as a “miracle” but also warned relieved Britons that “wars are not won by evacuations ”.
37. He went on to give one of his most famous speeches to the House of Commons in which he vowed that: “We shall fi ght on the beaches, we shall fi ght on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fi elds and in the streets, we shall fi ght in the hills. We shall never surrender!”
38. The phrase “Dunkirk spirit” has since become part of the language used to toast people who pull together in a time of adversity.
39. Hitler’s failure to capture the British army at Dunkirk has been called one of the great turning points of the war.
40. Today the Association of Dunkirk Little Ships is marking the 75th anniversary of the evacuation by organising a Channel crossing to Dunkirk involving 50 of the original craft that took part including the oldest, an 1892 sailing barge called Greta.