Friday, August 18, 2006

Good evening, this is Michael Anthony, and you’re listening to British History 101. Tonight’s discussion will be followed by a bit of housekeeping, so please do stay tuned after the history and give me some feedback if it’s not too much trouble.
In this episode of British History 101, we’ll take a look at the Battle of Dunkirk. Stephen of Belhaven College wrote in last week and asked to hear a bit about this battle, one of World War II’s most famous, and so our topic tonight comes from his suggestion.
The Battle of France began on May 10, 1940 with German Army Groups A and B rolling over the Franco-German border, Group A through the Ardennes area and then turning north, Group B advancing through the Netherlands and heading west through Belgium. Try as they might, Allied forces in the area were unable to stop the German advance over the next several weeks, and the Wehrmacht cut off the British Expeditionary Force, the French 1st and 7th Armies, and the Belgians from the rest of France’s military south of the German incursion. On May 24, Panzer divisions under the control of commander in chief Walther von Brauchitsch were halted outside the Allied city of Dunkirk per orders of the Fuhrer. Adolf Hitler believed that, were the divisions to extend all the way through to Dunkirk, they would be stretched too thinly. This order ran directly contrary to what von Brauchitsch desired. It did, however, allow the Germans to regroup, fortify the areas they had already overrun, and build up strength for the eventual assault on the rest of France.
The day after Hitler stopped his tanks outside Dunkirk, General Lord Gort, the commander of the British Expeditionary Force, ordered the evacuation of all British forces in the area. Over the next 4 days, British forces pulled back closer and closer to the Atlantic coast, creating what is now known as the Dunkirk Pocket along the Franco-Belgian border.
On May 27, Operation Dynamo initiated the actual evacuation of the cornered Allied troops. The next day, May 28, Belgium surrendered to Germany, along with parts of the French 1st Army trapped outside the Dunkirk Pocket. By June 4, 1940, Operation Dynamo was complete, and although the battle was tactically a German victory, the successful evacuation of the thousands of trapped troops was an incredible morale booster to Great Britain – we must remember that by this time, Poland and parts of Europe were already under German control, and the outlook was not good. Saving the lives of the men of the British Expeditionary Force became one of the biggest pieces of propaganda in military history, and the phrase “Dunkirk Spirit” even came to be known to describe solidarity in times of distress.
What was a type of success for the British led to the fall of the French under the Nazi jackboot, as the Germans entered Paris 10 days after Operation Dynamo was complete on June 14, and the French offered surrender to the invaders from the east 8 days later.
That’s it for the history this week. I’d really like to use this episode to, as I said earlier, do a bit of housecleaning, and take care of some business I’ve had on my mind this week regarding British History 101. First of all – a big thank you is due to one listener Michael, who mailed in with a correction to my pronunciation. Previously, I referred to people native to Britain as BRIGHTons. Thanks, Michael, for alerting me the word is said as BRITTens. I ask anyone and everyone to let me know if I do say something incorrectly – I don’t want British History 101 to present anything in any fashion other than correct!
Next, I’m concerned I’m having some audio problems with the podcast. Several listeners have let me know they’re having trouble with the volume level of my recording. When I play the ‘cast back in iTunes on my computer, I have no trouble whatsoever, and most people say it’s perfectly fine on their systems. If you are indeed having difficulty with the volume level and have any idea as to what could be causing it, I’d love to get some feedback as to what the problem could be – I want British History 101 to be 100% accessible to every person that downloads it. Each and every listener I’ve been in contact with has been so incredibly supportive and I really do appreciate that. Much thanks to EVERYONE who listens.
Anyone who listens to this podcast would greatly benefit by listening to Matt Dattilo’s podcast Matt’s Today in History. It’s a fascinating look at the events that have shaped our world and I strongly recommend it to each and every listener of British History 101. More from Matt:
Thanks for that, Matt, I know there are a large number of people out there that love your podcast just as much as me. Keep up the great work.
That concludes tonight’s episode. If you’d like to look back over our discussion of Dunkirk, visit for a transcript of this and every other episode. Send suggestions, questions, comments, rants, and raves to Our music tonight is “Gather Your Rosebuds,” performed by Jeni Malia and available on Magnatune is an independent online record label that equally shares all revenue from album sales with their hand-selected artists while allowing them to retain full rights to their works. Visit for great music at low prices and support the many wonderful artists hosted there. Until we talk again, many thanks for listening, and have a great evening.

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