Aerial photographs of Dunkirk taken during the Allied evacuation in 1940 are now accessible. In the images, thick clouds of smoke from burning oil tanks obscure the harbour and beaches below. Over 338,000 British, French and Belgian troops were evacuated from here during Operation Dynamo.
In May 1940, British and French troops moved north into Belgium to meet the invading German army. German tanks then advanced rapidly through northern France to the sea and split the Allied armies in two. The outflanked Allied troops held a shrinking perimeter around Dunkirk from 26 May to 4 June. During this time a fleet of naval and civilian vessels crossed the English Channel, evacuating troops to the south coast of England.
Despite suffering a defeat, and losing vital equipment, the evacuation from Dunkirk enabled the British to continue the war alone.