Catalogue ref: WO 106/1618
WAR OFFICE ON DUNKIRK EVACUATION
Up to 30th May, 1940, the arrangement was that British troops were to be taken off in British ships and French troops in French ships. Notwithstanding this arrangement up to noon 31st May 14,811 French troops in addition to 149,342 British had arrived in this country in British ships. The number taken off in French ships is not known but the Admiralty had the impression that the French navy made very little effort and that no effective steps had been taken to collect French coastal shipping.
On the night 30/31 May Lord Gort received orders that equal numbers of French and British troops were to be taken off in British ships. It was decided that the final night of evacuation was to be 1/2 June. Evacuation by daylight was no longer possible as the only channel was covered by enemy guns and his air action was incessant. On the morning 1st June alone we lost six ships by enemy bombing.
Notwithstanding the former decision the evacuation was continued up to and including the night 3/4June. Major General Alexander and the last of the British troops left Dunkirk in the early morning of 3rd June. This withdrawal was made in full agreement with Admiral Abrial who said he had sufficient French troops to hold the perimeter and asked only for British air and naval assistance during night 3/4 June. At considerable risk to our shipping this assistance was given.
During the period after the decision to take off equal numbers of French and British troops the numbers brought off in British ships were
The total numbers including wounded during the whole period of evacuation were
The two main reasons for the disparity in total numbers are
The War Office.
3rd May, 1941.