Story: Second World War

Evacuation of the British Expeditionary Force, 1940

These headlines from the Evening Post on 1 June 1940 attempt to paint a positive picture of the evacuation of British forces from Dunkirk, a French channel port close to Belgium. Expecting a long, drawn-out trench war like that on the Western Front in the previous war, the Allies were stunned by the speed and effectiveness of the German advance, which used tanks and dive bombers from the air. In the end over 330,000 Allied troops were rescued, euphemistically described here as a 'gallant rearguard action'.

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National Library of New Zealand, Papers Past
Reference: Evening Post, 1 June 1940, p. 11

Permission of the National Library of New Zealand, Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa, must be obtained before any re-use of this image.

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How to cite this page:

Ian McGibbon, 'Second World War - Defeat in France, 1940', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 27 October 2021)

Story by Ian McGibbon, published 20 Jun 2012, updated 10 May 2016