The Dunkirk Evacuation

Christopher Nolan's 2017 blockbuster told the story of the Dunkirk evacuation to a whole new generation. Many of those evacuated were from Northern Ireland.

The evacuation of Dunkirk, codenamed Operation Dynamo saw the rescue of large numbers of Allied soldiers. Between 26th May 1940 and 4th June 1940, 338,226 British, Belgian, and French troops made it safely to England.

During the 6-week long Battle of France, Wehrmacht forces trapped the Allied troops in a corner of Northern France. The British assembled a fleet of over 800 boats as soldiers gathered on the beach and on the harbour’s defensive mole. The Royal Navy supplied 39 Destroyers and the Royal Canadian Navy supplied 4 more. History remembers the “little ships”, the flotilla of merchant ships, fishing boats, pleasure craft, and privately owned yachts.

On 4th June 1940, Prime Minister Winston Churchill called the rescue a “miracle of deliverance”. He was, however, keen to emphasise this was not a victory. The British Expeditionary Force lost 68,000 men in northern France in 1940 and abandoned most of their tanks and vehicles. Churchill added “wars are not won by evacuations”, but the world would remember the miracle of the Dunkirk evacuations as one of the enduring stories of the Second World War.

Royal Navy Rescue

The famous "little ships" made up a small part of a fleet that included ships from both the Royal Navy and Merchant Navy.

The British Expeditionary Force

Men from Ireland and Northern Ireland served in the British Expeditionary Force in 1940. Many of these men in the British Army evacuated from Dunkirk.

John Arlow

Rifleman • 7014039

John Arlow died on 29th May 1940 as 2nd Battalion Royal Ulster Rifles held off enemy attacks furing the BEF's retreat that would end at Dunkirk, France.

John Devenish Condy

Lieutenant • 87458

Lieutenant John Devenish Condy died on 27th May 1940 during the evacuation of Dunkirk. He was a qualified barrister who served in the Royal Artillery.

Samuel Craig

Rifleman • 7011030

Rifleman Samuel Craig of Glynn, Co. Antrim died between 28th May 1940 and 2nd June 1940. He served with 2nd Battalion Royal Ulster Rifles at Dunkirk.

Robert Crawford

Gunner • 1473864

Gunner Robert Crawford served with 8th (Belfast) Heavy Anti-Aircraft Regiment of the Royal Artillery. He saw action across Europe and survived Dunkirk.

Edward Devine

Lance Corporal • 7010080

Lance Corporal Edward Devine died on 30th May 1940 during the 2nd Battalion Royal Ulster Rifles fight in the British Expeditionary Force retreat to Dunkirk.

Rifleman Andrew Fullerton

Andrew Fullerton

Rifleman • 7013832

Rifleman Andrew Fullerton of Gilford, Co. Down died between 29th May 1940 and 2nd June 1940 during the British Expeditionary Force's retreat to Dunkirk.

James Hamilton

Rifleman • 7011031

Rifleman James Hamilton died between 30th May 1940 and 2nd June 1940 as 2nd Battalion Royal Ulster Rifles fought in the rearguard of the retreat to Dunkirk.

Norman Victor Henderson

Sergeant

Sergeant Norman Victor Henderson served in 2nd Battalion Royal Ulster Rifles during World War Two. He lived in Copperfield Street, Belfast, Co. Antrim.

Robert Millar Keenan

Private

Private Robert Millar Keenan from Belfast, Co. Antrim served from Dunkirk, France through North Africa and Italy with the British Army during World War Two.

James Knox

Gunner • 147640

Gunner James Knox served in 8th (Belfast) Heavy Anti-Aircraft Regiment of the Royal Artillery. He was wounded during action in northern France in June 1940.

Thomas Wright Lannigan

Gunner • 1475147

Gunner Thomas Wright Lannigan was born in Belfast, Co. Antrim and died in Middlesex, United Kingdom on 16th November 1940. He fought at Dunkirk that summer.

Thomas Leslie

Sergeant • 7006851

Sergeant Thomas Leslie of Belfast, Co. Antrim died on 28th May 1940 as the Royal Ulster Rifles fought in Belgium with the British Expeditionary Force.

51st Highland Division in North Africa

John McMillan Leishman

Sergeant

John McMillan Leishman was born in Falkirk, Scotland and served in the 153rd Infantry Brigade, 51st Highland Division. He later made his home in Belfast.

Sergeant Alexander Liggett

Alexander Liggett

Sergeant • 7877628

Sergeant Alexander Liggett served in Europe and North Africa in the Royal Tank Regiment before being taken prisoner of war by the Nazis in 1943 and 1945.

James Lockhart

James Lockhart

Sergeant • 7009959

Sergeant James Lockhart of 2nd Battalion Royal Ulster Rifles died on 26th March 1942. The Belfast born soldier had received treatment in Hatfield, England.

Thomas Majurey

Rifleman • 7013776

Rifleman Thomas Majurey of Belfast, Co. Antrim died on 3rd June 1940 at a military hospital in Dover, Kent. He sustained wounds serving in Dunkirk, France.

Frederick McAlpine

Rifleman • 7013683

Belfast born Rifleman Frederick McAlpine died on 29th May 1940 during the British Expeditionary Force's retreat through northern France towards Dunkirk.

George McNeill

Rifleman • 7013035

Rifleman George McNeill died on 28th May 1940 while serving with 2nd Battalion Royal Ulster Rifles as part of the British Expeditionary Force in Belgium.

George Herbert Menary

Sergeant

Sergeant George Herbert Menary from Belfast, Co. Antrim is buried in Dundonald Cemetery, Dundonald, Co. Down. He died on 1st April 1949, soon after the war.

Robert James Moffatt

Rifleman • 7013481

Rifleman Robert James Moffatt of Belfast, Co. Antrim died on 28th May 1940 while serving with the Royal Ulster Rifles during the BEF retreat to Dunkirk.

John Patrick O'Halloran

Corporal • 7011733

Corporal John Patrick O'Halloran from Belfast, Co. Antrim died between 28th May 1940 and 2nd June 1940 fighting in the BEF retreat to Dunkirk in France.

David Maxwell Phillips

Warrant Officer Class III • 6976134

Warrant Officer Class III David Maxwell Phillips died on 2nd June 1940 soon after returning to his hometown of Belfast, Co. Antrim from Dunkirk, France.

Robert Robinson

Gunner • 1465720

Gunner Robert Robinson was more often known as "Charlie". Born in Belfast in 1907, he served with 8th (Belfast) Heavy Anti-Aircraft Regiment at Dunkirk.

George Rodgers

Rifleman • 7015246

Rifleman George Rodgers died on 22nd July 2017. He had not received the Légion d'Honneur that his family applied for for his role in the Dunkirk evacuation.

Robin Scott

Second Lieutenant

Second Lieutenant Robin Scott of Eisleben House, Stranmillis, Belfast, Co. Antrim died on 27th May 1940 while serving with the Royal Artillery at Dunkirk.

Lalor Smith

Rifleman • 7011328

Rifleman Lalor Smith from Bessbrook, Co. Armagh served in the Royal Ulster Rifles at the time of his death during Operation Dynamo on 28th May 1940.

Samuel Edward Smith

Lance Corporal • 7009692

Lance Corporal Samuel Edward Smith died on 29th May 1940 as 2nd Battalion Royal Ulster Rifles fought in the rearguard of the British Expeditionary Force.

Hugh Joseph Thompson

Rifleman • 7013406

Rifleman Hugh Joseph Thompson of Belfast, Co. Antrim returned from Dunkirk with severe wounds. He died on 3rd June 1940 at a military hospital in England.

Patrick Joseph Treanor

Rifleman • 7014151

Rifleman Patrick Joseph Treanor of Newry, Co. Down died on 28th May 1940 as the Royal Ulster Rifles held the rear guard of the British Expeditionary Force.

William Weir

Rifleman • 7013154

Rifleman William Weir of Belfast, Co. Antrim died on 29th May 1940 as 2nd Battalion Royal Ulster Rifles battled in the rearguard of the retreat to Dunkirk.

Robert Wright BEM

Robert Dawson Wright

Company Sergeant Major

Robert Wright BEM was known in Belfast for his long service with the Northern Ireland War Memorial Museum. Bob was a decorated war hero who served in Burma.

Royal Air Force at Dunkirk

Invaluable air support from the Royal Air Force enabled the evacuation of thousands of men from the beaches in northern France.

References

Wikipedia

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