When the German tanks approached within a few miles of the almost empty and undefended port city of Dunkirk, they halted. General Rundstedt, in charge of the German forces in the area, ordered them to halt to resupply and rearm, and prepare for the next leap into France. Not satisfied with the pace at which he was advancing his army, German High Command ordered Rundstedt to attack. Hitler, asserting his authority over the General Staff, rescinded the attack order, demonstrating he, not the Generals, was in control of the German Army. Hitler’s need to demonstrate he was in charge was one factor in saving the British Expeditionary Force (BEF), as well as many of its allies, allowing them to escape through a soon to be defended and evacuated port of Dunkirk.
What Hitler and his underlings did not expect is the will of the one they thought to be a dupe because of his actions in Munich less than two years earlier. Neville Chamberlain, still the head of Government in the UK until May 10, played a key role in both choosing Winston Churchill as the next Prime Minister, and deciding to evacuate the BEF from the Continent. When Chamberlain met with the King to provide his resignation, he advised the king to invite Churchill to become Prime Minister instead of Lord Halifax (the man already looking for a way to reach out to Italy for mediation with Germany). Then, in a momentous War Cabinet meeting on the night of May 28, Chamberlain sided with Churchill, against Halifax, as the key vote, to fight on, against the odds.
These two actions, by the man history has tarred with the moniker “Appeaser” allowed Churchill to lead The British Empire and its Dominions through the dark years before The United Nations banded together to tear down The Third Reich, Fascist Italy, and Imperial Japan.
Hitler did not believe the British could save their army. He was wrong.
Hitler thought the British would sue for peace. They almost did, and would have, had it not been for Neville Chamberlain’s key vote on the 28th.
Hitler failed in one key component of war: When you capture the enemy’s army, destroy it.
Thank grace Hitler made that fateful error. Thank Chamberlain for laying the groundwork for Churchill. Thank Churchill for leading the Allies to Victory! (Oh, and thank The Soviet Union for ripping the guts out of the Germans, as most of the losses were on that front, lest we forget.)
Early on the morning of June 5, 1940, two high-level officers from Germany’s Luftwaffe made their way along the broad, sandy beaches near the northern French port of Dunkirk. It was the morning after the last of an eclectic armada of naval and civilian vessels, large and small, from across England carried off the remnants of the British Expeditionary Force before the Germans captured Dunkirk.
The two officers were General Hoffmann von Waldau of the Luftwaffe General Staff and General Erhard Milch, the administrator of the German air forces and the Inspector-General of the Luftwaffe, as well as deputy to its chief, Field Marshal Hermann Goring. That morning they met with Goring, convincing him that England needed to be invaded at once to take advantage of the low British morale and vulnerability from having left all its military equipment in France. Goring was convinced, but he was not the man who made the ultimate decision. The halting of the tanks before the capture of Dunkirk had made that very clear.
What is below has been extracted from Threads Of The War, Volume III by Jeremy Strozer. This is the third book in the Threads of The War series. The first two books in this series are on sale for $0.99 right now.
I squint my eyes to protect against the snowstorm of torn paper shreds and airborne stitches of discarded soiled clothing blowing in every direction by the brisk dawn breeze. I scan across the flotsam and jetsam of the defeat-littered beach.
They are literally naked now.
Heavy guns, lines and lines of disabled trucks, hundreds of abandoned and broken bicycles, countless mounds of inoperable rifles just tossed onto piles, and thousands of discarded warn-out shoes are strewn across a beach touched at water’s edge by dozens of sunken ships and boats.
An army lost everything here.
Vast piles of both consumed and untouched canned goods intermingle with haphazardly deposited eating utensils, trash, and rotting food. We approach a huge pile of empty wine and whiskey bottles, most likely taken from an officer’s mess and downed by the men desperately and impatiently awaiting rescue from calamity.
“Here is the grave of British hopes in this war!” von Waldau declares as his polished boot, now covered in sand, kicks a bottle out of the pile.
Fanning his right arm in an arc across our sightline of the bottle pile, he pronounces, “And these are the gravestones!”
Shaking my head, I stare through the mist at wrecked British ships in the shallows and at evidence of the British Army’s disarray all around.
Is he mad? This is debris and discarded detritus of war, but there are few bodies here. They may be unarmed now, but that can change quickly.
“They are not buried yet,” I declare in a soft voice before pausing for a moment. In an even softer voice, almost imperceptible to myself, I let escape, “We have no time to waste.”
British equipment left at Dunkirk
With the opening of Christopher Nolan’s movie Dunkirk this Friday, I’m pleased to share with you the news of the Dunkirk Week WWII Epic Book Sale. From 7/21-27, more than 50 authors of the FB Second World War Club have joined together to offer you their WWII novels, most at 99c.
Our novels range from military war tales, home front drama and sagas, harrowing accounts of the Holocaust, gripping spy thrillers, moving wartime romances, and much, much more. To see our great selection of WWII books, go to: http://www.alexakang.com/dunkirk-book-sale/
We’ve also got some great giveaway prizes, including the Grand Prize of a paperback copy of Joshua Levine's Dunkirk: The History Behind the Motion Picture. No purchases are necessary to enter the drawing. Come visit our book sale page to find out more details about our prizes and how to win.
We’re also bringing to you:
1. A two-part blog series about the Dunkirk. You can read the excellent blog posts to learn more about this historical event by two of our authors, Suzy Henderson (The Beauty Shop) and Jeremy Strozer (Threads of War), here: https://lowfellwritersplace.blogspot.co.uk/
2. Readings by The Book Speaks podcast of excerpts from All My Love, Detrick by Roberta Kagan plus another novel, both of which are part of the Dunkirk Week Book Sale: https://thebookspeakspodcast.wordpress.com/
3. Our authors’ pick of the Top 40 WWII Movies: http://alexakang.com/40-recommended-wwii-films-english/
The Second World War changed our world forever. In our stories, we strived to bring you a glimpse of what happened and how everything happened through the eyes of our characters and to let you share their feelings, emotions, fears, and hopes. We are thankful that director Christopher Nolan is bringing this important part of history to the attention of the wider public, and we will try to continue what he had done through the stories we tell.
We hope you enjoy our books and this experience.