Dunkirk Evacuation Operation Dynamo

Published on
Review Author(s)
Book Author(s)
John Grehan & Alexander Nicoll
Other Publication Information
Paperback, 9.5 X 7.5 inches, 166 pages, B&W photos
Provided by: Casemate UK - Website: Visit Site

Dunkirk Evacuation Operation Dynamo is an excellent book that paints a vivid picture of the chaos and monumental evacuation efforts to save the British Army early in WWII. The book describes one of the most inspiring stories of World War II, the evacuation from Dunkirk, on a daily basis from Sunday, May 26, 1940 through Monday, June 3, 1940. Evacuation of Britain’s only army, the British Expeditionary Force, from Dunkirk was chaotic and rushed but miraculously saved the BEF.

Part of Pen & Swords Illustrated Series, the book is a compilation of fascinating photos. The book is organized in chapters for each of the nine days of the evacuation. Each chapter provides some text describing the major operations of the day and includes many black-and-white photographs of the rescue operations. The photographs are high-quality, quite clear, and helpful descriptions are provided in the photo captions.

  • Introduction - Retreat to Dunkirk
  • Describes the deployment, wartime actions, and ultimate retreat to Dunkirk to preface the evacuation.
  • Chapter 1, Day 1 - Sunday, 26 May 1940. Secure routes across the English Channel are established and search begins to find vessels for the evacuation.
  • Chapter 2, Day 2 - Monday, 27 May 1940. Defensive positions around Dunkirk become stressed holding off the German advance while the excavation continues.
  • Chapter 3, Day 3 - Tuesday, 28 May 1940. Due to heavy bombardment of Dunkirk Harbor, the troop embarkations were switched to the beaches eastward of Dunkirk. The British Admiralty begin notifying private owners and operators to assemble ‘Little Ships’, vessels commandeered by the British Navy.
  • Chapter 4, Day 4 - Wednesday, 29 May 1940. The French Army takes over defense of Dunkirk and plans to take part in the evacuation. The first of the Little Ships began to arrive in large numbers on the beaches.
  • Chapter 5, Day 5 - Thursday, 30 May 1940. French ships begin to arrive to assist with the evacuation. Heavily overcast skies kept the Luftwaffe grounded, limiting bombardment.
  • Chapter 6, Day 6 - Friday, 31 May 1940. The perimeter defense still held on the fifth day. Many photographs in this chapter.
  • Chapter 7, Day 7 - Saturday, 1 June 1940. Despite losses of many ships and aircraft, over 60,000 troops were evacuated this day.
  • Chapter 8, Day 8 - Sunday, 2 June 1940. Evacuations were switched to nighttime to avoid daytime ship losses, and the final evacuation push begins.
  • Chapter 9, Day 9 - Monday, 3 June 1940. On the night of June 2nd to 3rd most of the remaining British were evacuated as the French held the perimeter. The final lift on the night of June 3rd to 4th evacuated many of the French troops, leaving the remaining French soldiers and British soldiers to an uncertain fate.
  • Chapter 10 - The aftermath

Dunkirk finally fell to the Germans on 4 June 1940 as the first troops entered the town between 7:00 and 8:00 AM. 40,000 British and French troops still remained, however over 338,000 troops had been evacuated since 27 May. This chapter includes many photographs taken by Germans after the evacuation showing the massive amount of equipment left behind by the British army.


The excellent text and photos in this book resent a vivid image of the desperate, chaotic evacuation from Dunkirk and the heroic efforts necessary to save the BEF. The photographs are high quality and the captions provide good descriptions of the troops and ships involved. This is a very interesting read and the photographs or a fascinating look at the Dunkirk evacuation. Modelers will find many inspirations for dioramas in the book’s photographs. History buffs will enjoy the written descriptions and visual imagery of Operation Dynamo.

Thanks to Pen & Sword Books for this wonderful publication, and to Casemate for providing the review sample to IPMS


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