The Real Miracle at Dunkirk and the Other Channel Ports in May 1940

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The real miracle at Dunkirk and the other Channel ports in May 1940 was that Hitler halted his Panzer divisions against the advice of almost all his generals, and allowed nearly 600,000 British and French troops to escape to England. Had he not done so, the military disaster that the British Expeditionary Force experienced in France would have been total, and none of its troops would have been able to fight on another day. Even so, they lost most of their planes, tanks, artillery and heavy equipment, while the loss of aircraft by the RAF imperiled it ability to defend the country against the Luftwaffe. Although Winston Churchill and his Minister of Information Alfred Duff Cooper tried to put the best face on the evacuation possible, especially by emphasizing the role the small boats had played in the rescue effort, they were under no illusions about the magnitude of the disaster. Hitler gave various explanations for why he refused to continue ground operations against Dunkirk none of them particularly convincing and it has puzzled historians for seventy years since. Most of the top German commanders were literally "speechless" when they heard the order to halt and leave Dunkirk to the Luftwaffe, although Field Marshal Gerd von Rundstedt was concerned about possible British and French counterattacks on the exposed northern flank of the German army. Britain's counterattack at Arras had "also come as a severe shock" to the Germans and De Gaulle would later make similar attacks
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