Dunkirk: Retreat to Victory by Major General Julian Thompson; Dunkirk: The Men They Left Behind by Sean Longden - review by Allan Mallinson

Allan Mallinson

Forgotten Heroes

Dunkirk: Retreat to Victory


Sidgwick and Jackson 338pp £20

Dunkirk: The Men They Left Behind


Constable 466pp £20

King George VI summed up what must have been a widespread view among soldiers after Dunkirk: ‘Personally, I feel happier now that we have no allies to be polite to and to pamper.’ Julian Thompson quotes this in his masterly study of the military operations up to and during Operation Dynamo – the evacuation of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) from Belgium and France in June 1940. 

The king was referring to the French, who in the twentieth century proved almost as dangerous an ally as they had been an enemy in the previous two. The problem began – as it has often done, and continues to do – with a political imperative begetting a ludicrous military

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