Raid at Dunkirk
Second part of “Dunkirk” series: “The miracle”
The retreat was undertaken amid chaotic conditions, with abandoned vehicles blocking the roads and a flood of refugees heading in the opposite direction. Initial plans called for the recovery of 45,000 men from the BEF within two days. However, only 25,000 men escaped during this period. The available ships in the area were one cruiser, eight destroyers, and 26 other craft, plus a great number of nearby boatyards for small craft that could ferry personnel from the beaches out to larger craft in the harbour. This encouraged nearly four hundred small craft were voluntarily and enthusiastically taking part in the effort, while the Luftwaffe heavily bombed Dunkirk. As the water supply was knocked out, the resulting fires could not be extinguished. one-third of the remaining population of the town was killed in these actions. The RAF continued to take a heavy toll on the German bombers throughout the week. 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. On 29 May, 47,310 British troops were rescued. By the end of the eighth day, 338,226 soldiers had been rescued by a hastily assembled fleet of over 800 boats.
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