Operation Dynamo: Dunkirk
After the Phoney War, the Battle of France began in earnest on 10 May 1940. To the east, the German Army Group B invaded and subdued the Netherlands and advanced westward through Belgium. In response, the Supreme Allied Commander—French General Maurice Gamelin—initiated “Plan D” which relied heavily on the Maginot Line fortifications. Gamelin committed the forces under his command, three mechanised armies, the French First and Seventh and the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) to the River Dyle. On 14 May, German Army Group A burst through the Ardennes and advanced rapidly to the west toward Sedan, then turned northward to the English Channel, in what Generalfeldmarschall Erich von Manstein called the “Sickle Cut” (known as “Plan Yellow” or the Manstein Plan), effectively flanking the Allied forces.
A series of Allied counter-attacks—including the Battle of Arras—failed to sever the German spearhead, which reached the coast on 20 May, separating the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) near Armentières, the French 1st Army, and the Belgian Army further to the north from the majority of French troops south of the German penetration. After reaching the Channel, the Germans swung north along the coast, threatening to capture the ports and trap the British and French forces before they could evacuate to Britain.
In one of the most widely-debated decisions of the war, the Germans halted their advance on Dunkirk. Contrary to popular belief, what became known as “the Halt Order” did not originate with Adolf Hitler. Gerd von Rundstedt and Günther von Kluge suggested that the German forces around the Dunkirk pocket should cease their advance on the port and consolidate, to avoid an Allied break. Hitler sanctioned the order on 24 May with the support of the Oberkommando der Wehrmacht (OKW). The army were to halt for three days, giving the Allies time to organise an evacuation and build a defensive line. Despite the Allies’ gloomy estimates of the situation, with Britain discussing a conditional surrender to Germany, in the end over 330,000 Allied troops were rescued.
All Dunkirk Trips are £599 per guest. Plus £40 a night single room supplement, where applicable. It is a mobile trip following the retreat to Dunkirk seeing the major perimeter defences and beach evacuations, staying at Dunkirk.
Next Trip Dates:
May 2015 dates and prices confirmed shortly.
Guests can either meet at Dover and travel over as a group or there is an option to meet up at the Dunkirk Ferry Terminal Tourist Centre. Passengers can no longer travel on Ferries as ‘foot passengers’ so it is necessary for guests to take their cars over and leave them in the free secure car park just yards from the Ferry arrival point at the Dunkirk Ferry Terminal Tourist Centre. The MHT Team meet guests for an initial briefing then drives everyone to the first location, Cassel. Here we take an a breathtaking view – from the hill one can see for hundreds of miles across the panoramic view of what was once the Western Front in WW1 and later became the scene of our story in May and June 1940. Here Nick explains, with roleplay, the German battle plan and the Allied reaction to it. After lunch in the traditional Cassel town square we take in various points of engagement where the British held up the German advance, including several VC actions. On Day Two we again see more examples of fixed position defences before making our way to Wormhoudt to visit the scene of a terrible SS massacre of dozens of unarmed British POWs. After lunch we fall back to Bray Dunes where the potential tragedy begins to unfold. Here it is still possible to see shipwrecks of Operation Dynamo. Day Three we pay our respects at the Dunkirk Commonwealth War Grave Cemetery where those killed in the immediate vacinity were buried. Many of course died at sea and many were to have the dunes as their resting ground. We then take to time to explore the wonderful little museum at Dunkirk to see some interesting artifacts, photos and maps. After lunch we visit the Dunkirk Memorial on the beach before making our way to the East Mole, where the Miracle of Dunkirk truly happened.
The trip price includes all transport (which is private and starts and ends at Dunkirk Ferry Terminal), 2 nights bed & breakfast, all museum entrances, all talks and guidance.
Just £100 deposit secures a place. E mail or call us today to book your place.