B.E.F. "escape"

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saxon
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B.E.F. "escape"

Post by saxon » 30 Apr 2002 20:42

Hi all,
I found this site the other night while I was searching for WWII German military marching songs. I must say I'm very impressed with the high standard of debates and of the level of expertise shown by the Members. I've only got about a million questions I'd like to ask you Guys !!!. But I think to be fair I should look at the previous posts ( 15K !!!!) so as not to ask you all to go over old ground that no doubt you must have already covered.
I would, however , like to throw this one into the ether.

Was the BEF " allowed " to escape from Dunkirk ?

Greetings from Liverpool

p.s. I hope this question is in the correct section ...I'm a noobie

Derek.
" Utrinque Paratus "

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Marcus
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Post by Marcus » 30 Apr 2002 20:52

Welcome to the forum.

/Marcus

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Christian Ankerstjerne
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Post by Christian Ankerstjerne » 30 Apr 2002 21:03

Welcome to the forum!

As for your question: Definately not! Hitler wanted to, if not destroy, then capture, the BEF - it was even a main objective of the campaign! Why can be discussed, but he wanted a union with Britain, most likely, and to hold its army captive is a good way!

There is a very simple explanation.
Germany is not a sea nation. They have little experience in this area, and have never used naval transportation in any larger scale. Therefore, they were unaware of how to deal with such a situation (a German general has once stated, that crossing the channel would just be large-scale river crossing!)
They saw the ocean as a wall, through which it was impossible to transport an army, as such short notice anyway. They could not imagine that Dynamo could even happen! The British, being an Island kingdom, were seing the channel as a highway, with many opportunities.

When the German Panzers arrived at the river before the Dunkirk area, they were exhausted. They could not continue - they were tired, and running low on fuel and supplies. Furthermore, they had no infantry backup, and they had nearly been cut off at one point from their main force. (it was a part of their tactic to keep driving, leaving the infantry behind, and just go on, not stopping at anyhting - this WAS their tactic, and it worked for penetration...). Therefore, it was a sane military decision to halt them for rest and refit. After all, the Germans didn't think they could go anyway, so they could just prepare to finish off the enemy nice and calmly.

The Luftwaffe, which could use the publicity (the Panzers had recieved much of the credit so far) asked for permission to destroy the BEF on the beaches. Who did it, I ca not remember, but it has been discussed here many a time. Surely, someone will answer this! Therefore, they attacked the BEF.
So far, the Germans had not used fighter support, simply because the French airforce was not being used. It was actually not practice among the Allies either. The French could easily have destroyed the Ju 87s, that were about as galant in a dogfight as a rock with wings... They were, however, so shocked by the German attack (as well as uncertain who were actually in command of the French aircrafts - they didn't have any real airforce, and the Generals of the individual army departments were unable to get in contact other than through couriers, and hte French high command was in general ignorant of the danger.) that they just had their fighters hidden in parks, etc. - with retrieveing Allied soldiers seing it with disbelief!

At Dunkirk, the RAF was able to get straight from England, into the attack. They shot the Ju 87s to pieces before they ever reached the beaches (which is why you hear the BEF cursing the RAF for not being there - they were there, but they were taking the enemy out BEFORE they ever reached the lines (if they had attacked after the bombs had been dropped, it wouldn't realy matter...). Therefore, the BEF were relatively left alone. The Germans, who had advanced to the outskirts of the evacuation area by the time the evacuation was more or less over, didn't believe their eyes. They were as amazed as when Moses divided the Red Sea - but they were not stupid enough to attempt to follow them, as the waters - the Royal Navie and the BEf - would have come down on them as on the Pharao...

Hope this helps ;)

Christian

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Christian Ankerstjerne
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Post by Christian Ankerstjerne » 30 Apr 2002 21:04

BTW, Marcus, this is the kind of posts I would like to see in a 'best of the Third Reich' section - simply because it takes so long time to type them ;)

Christian

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Andy H
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Post by Andy H » 30 Apr 2002 21:07

I agree completly with FP and must make the point that RAF's role in the BEF escape and even survival from/at Dunkirk has never been fully acknowledged even in this fair land.

BTW Welcome to the Forum

:D From the Shire

PS: No mention of Scally's or Wollybacks please :lol:

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Erik E
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Post by Erik E » 30 Apr 2002 21:12

Who`s going to guarrantee which story is true?
It wouldn`t fit in a "Best of", if it`s full of errors.....

(This was not meant for your post Christian!)

EE

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Christian Ankerstjerne
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Post by Christian Ankerstjerne » 30 Apr 2002 21:28

I'm going to respond anyway ;)

I got most of my knowledge from Len deightons book 'Blitzkrieg', as well as a number of other sources. I wrote a 12 page essay about it, with a complement of 8-10 pages of notes ;)

Christian

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Christian Ankerstjerne
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Post by Christian Ankerstjerne » 30 Apr 2002 21:30

Noone can guarantie if it's true - '9 out of 10 dentists recommend the use of flour toothpaste' - but what if that one dentist is right? ;)

Christian

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Erik E
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Post by Erik E » 30 Apr 2002 21:35

Agreed, but I guess there would be (even more) discussions on what`s right or not. As you know, these threads quicly goes off-topic and gets closed......

Erik E

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Christian Ankerstjerne
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Post by Christian Ankerstjerne » 30 Apr 2002 21:37

But, they keep us going - bad posts are better than no posts?!? :lol

What-ifs are nice - but you're right, they can get hostile, and 'yes it is -- no it isn't'-like...

Christian

Gwynn Compton
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Post by Gwynn Compton » 30 Apr 2002 22:37

My understanding of Dunkirk was that Hitler thought the area was unsuitable for armoured operations, an opinion influenced by his own experiences in the region during the First World War. Then Goering came along and claimed he could destroy the BEF from the air, and Hitler, seeing an oppotunity not to, as he believed would happen, "waste" his Panzer forces, he allowed Goering to try for his moment of glory, which ultimately failed.

The more interesting thing is that as bombs hit the beaches, they kicked up sand, which helped cover the British evacuation.

Had Hitler not halted the Panzers, I doubt the BEF would have escaped.

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LAH
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Post by LAH » 01 May 2002 19:17

I have read alot of books on Hitler and it is my opinion that Hitler did not think that britain could possibly carry on fighting alone, and he believed that britain would be more open to an end to fighting if the army was back in britain, this and the reports ( not completly accurate) on the state of the german tank forces that he was getting from the front made him give the order to halt the tanks.

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Matt Gibbs
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RAF and,...

Post by Matt Gibbs » 01 May 2002 22:38

Greetings;
My grandfather had a lot to thank the RAF for when they provided air cover for the little ships to evacuate the troops form Dunkirk. he had been shot in the shoulder by a burst of machine gun fire and took 3 years in hospital to recover properly!! Personally I am glad they escaped, whether they were 'allowed' to or not!! I agree that the RAF do not seem to ahve had a lot of acknowlegement over this period of the war. Lots more seems to get written about the Luftwaffe anyway!
Regards

Gwynn Compton
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Post by Gwynn Compton » 02 May 2002 09:01

Probably because the Luftwaffe stuffed up while the RAF didn't.

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saxon
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Post by saxon » 02 May 2002 22:24

Thanks Guys for your input.
Christian I'm sorry you had to type so much , but I am grateful for your expertise, and in particular Moses analogy (LOL) but I suppose he had no logistical problems in feeding,supplying and equipping his troops! ( manna straight from GHQ ) losing 2.472 guns 84,427 vehicles and 657,000 tons of stores meant nothing to him.

Best Regards,
Derek
" Utrinque Paratus "

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