The Battle of Dunkirk - 28th May - 4th June 1940
1st September 1939
Start of the German attack on Poland.
June 1940 September 1939
|Declaration of war by Great Britain and France on Germany.|
21st March 1940
|Resignation of Édouard Daladier's government and the constitution of that of Paul Reynaud.|
10th May 1940
Start of the German offensive in the west: invasion of the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg.
13th May 1940
German breakthrough at Sedan.
15th May 1940
Paul Reynaud informs Winston Churchill that "the battle is lost"; surrender of the Dutch army.
17/18th May 1940
Occupation of Brussels, Anvers and Saint-Quentin by the Germans.
18th May 1940
Philippe Pétain becomes Minister of State and Vice President of the Council.
19th May 1940
Appointment of General Weygand in place of General Gamelin as commander in chief of the French army.
20th May 1940
Occupation of Arras, Amiens and Abbeville by the Germans.
25th May 1940
Fall of Boulogne.
26th May 1940
Start of the advance of German tanks on Dunkirk; fall of Calais.
27th May 1940
|Bombardment by the German air force of the entrenched camp at Dunkirk intensifies; fall of Gravelines.|
28th May - 4th June 1940
Battle of Dunkirk ; operation "Dynamo" to evacuate British and French troops ; surrender of the Belgian army (28th May).
5th - 8th June 1940
|Breach of the last French lines of defence on the Somme and the Aisne.|
10th June 1940
|Italy joins the war alongside Germany.|
14th June 1940
Arrival of German troops in Paris, which is declared an open city.
|16th June 1940|
Resignation of Paul Reynaud, Philippe Pétain's cabinet is formed.
17th June 1940
French request for an armistice.
22nd June 1940
Signature of the Franco-German armistice in Rethondes.
|24th June 1940||Signature of the Franco-Italian armistice in Rome.|
The sinking of the Bourrasque Of all the dramatic events of operation "Dynamo", the sinking of the Bourrasque was one of the most important. In the afternoon of the 29th May, as the vessel had just taken on board French troops from the Quai Félix Faure along with the Bouclier and the Branlebas, it came under fire from the Germans at sea off Belgium. Shortly after, an explosion, probably caused by a mine, shook the vessel, which quickly sank. Of the 700 to 800 men on board the vessel, nearly two thirds perished. The town of Dunkirk and the bombardments The first French city to be heavily bombed and the last to be liberated, Dunkirk was badly damaged during the Second World War. However it is difficult to differentiate between the damage that was caused by the bombardments of 1940 and that which took place at the end of the war. After the war, the city was declared a disaster area, as 90% of it had been destroyed: of the 3,362 buildings in the town before the war, 1,524 were totally destroyed and 805 badly damaged; the port was cluttered up with wrecks and no longer had a quay or a flood gate.
The town became the subject of a new urban plan, designed by the architect Théodore Leveau, which was adopted in 1947. Its reconstruction, financed by the city council and the State and carried out by local companies, began on the 4th September 1949 and was finished in 1963. However, the port was rebuilt in less than two years. Following the work, Dunkirk has generally retained the major roads of its pre-war layout. Although the appearance of the city is relatively consistent, it has totally lost its regional style.
Week-end à Zuydcoote The Battle of Dunkirk, which caused such suffering but which, mostly as a result of brave and sometimes heroic deeds, allowed the evacuation of many soldiers, soon became the inspiration for novelists and film makers. So, in 1949, Robert Merle published the novel "Week-end à Zuydcoote" with which he won the Goncourt Prize. A few years later, in 1964, Henri Verneuil was inspired by this work to make a film for cinema of the same name. These two works, whose success has been unfailing, keep the memory of the siege of Dunkirk alive and prompt you to ask yourself how you would react in the same circumstances.