The Dunkirk evacuation, codenamed Operation Dynamo by the British, was the evacuation of Allied soldiers from the beaches and harbour of Dunkirk, France, between 26 May and 4 June 1940, when British, French, Canadian, and Belgian troops were cut off by the German army during the Battle of Dunkirk in the Second World War. In a speech to the House of Commons ("We shall fight on the beaches"), Winston Churchill called the events in France "a colossal military disaster", saying that "the whole root and core and brain of the British Army" had been stranded at Dunkirk and seemed about to perish or be captured. He hailed their rescue as a "miracle of deliverance".

On the first day, only 7,010 men were evacuated, but by the ninth day, a total of 338,226 soldiers (198,229 British and 139,997 French)[2] had been rescued by the hastily assembled fleet of 850 boats. Many of the troops were able to embark from the harbour's protective mole onto 42 British destroyers and other large ships, while others had to wade from the beaches toward the ships, waiting for hours to board, shoulder-deep in water. Others were ferried from the beaches to the larger ships, and thousands were carried back to England by the famous "little ships of Dunkirk", a flotilla of around 700 merchant marine boats, fishing boats, pleasure craft and Royal National Lifeboat Institution lifeboats—the smallest of which was the 15-foot fishing boat Tamzine, now in the Imperial War Museum—whose civilian crews were called into service for the emergency. The "miracle of the little ships" remains a prominent folk memory in Britain.

Operation Dynamo took its name from the dynamo room in the naval headquarters below Dover Castle, which contained the dynamo that provided the building with electricity during the war. It was in this room that British Vice Admiral Bertram Ramsay planned the operation and briefed Winston Churchill as it was under way.

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