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Dunkirk - Separating Fact From Fiction


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Dunkirk - Separating Fact From Fiction

  2. 2. Christopher Nolan’s war drama Dunkirk, focuses on Operation Dynamo – The Evacuation of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) from France, 26 May to 4 June 1940.
  3. 3. With all the promotions of the film as “incredibly accurate” and “true to the history,” I was cautiously hopeful and looked forward to seeing the film.
  4. 4. Under Fire and Under Water The cinematography is superb and audiences are presented with dramatic depictions of what it is like to be under fire
  5. 5. and the terror of being trapped in darkness at night, inside the hold of a sinking ship.
  6. 6. The heroism of the civilian “little ships” – over 700 of which helped in the evacuation - is very well depicted.
  7. 7. A staggering 933 ships took place in the operation, from navy ships to fishing ships, with only 697 returning to Britain
  8. 8. However, there are many serious inaccuracies and inexplicable omissions. First of all, this film makes it seem that virtually every single Royal Navy vessel gets sunk! Distortions of History
  9. 9. The Royal Navy seems helpless and heartless and does not get a fair credit for the superb evacuation operation they ran.
  10. 10. In the 11 days of Operation Dynamo, the Royal Navy succeeded in evacuating over 338,000 men of which 215,000 were British and 123,000 were French. 95% of those evacuated were on Naval vessels. This was the greatest Naval evacuation to that date.
  11. 11. Troops evacuated from Dunkirk on a destroyer about to berth at Dover, 31 May 1940
  12. 12. The British Expeditionary Force soldiers appear leaderless, undisciplined, helpless and fearful, abandoning their rifles while being fired upon and generally not much of an army at all. The British Army Did Not Collapse into Chaos
  13. 13. I do not believe that their depiction of the BEF soldiers is a fair reflection on what was admittedly an army in defeat and retreat, but the lack of leadership and direction by officers on the beaches, seems more anachronistic.
  14. 14. It may be the way that young people today would react in such a stressful situation. However, the historical record is that there was tremendous order and steadfastness amongst the soldiers, patiently waiting in line for boats to evacuate them back to Britain.
  15. 15. Operation Dynamo - men wait in an orderly fashion for their turn to be rescued.
  16. 16. The most outrageous inaccuracy is the depiction of a Hospital ship being sunk at Dunkirk! Sinking of Hospital ships is a serious war crime. (One British Hospital ship struck a British mine just off Dover, within British waters. It did not sink.) No Hospital Ship was Sunk at Dunkirk
  17. 17. The impression given in Nolan’s Dunkirk, is that the British were overwhelmed by a numerically superior enemy, which was not the case. Not a David Vs Goliath Operation
  18. 18. British troops in Dunkirk. The failed attempt to set up a base saw the Allied armies abandon huge amounts of equipment
  19. 19. Both the British and the French Armed Forces outnumbered the German Forces in terms of numbers of men, numbers of tanks and numbers of aircraft. .
  20. 20. The Royal Navy massively outnumbered everyone. The Royal Navy was the greatest Navy in the world.
  21. 21. In September 1939, the Royal Navy included: 17 battleships, 11 aircraft carriers, 76 cruisers, over 200 destroyers, 60 submarines and 56 corvettes and many more were in building stages and would have been available by May 1940.
  22. 22. Although one sees little evidence of it in the Dunkirk film, for Operation Dynamo, the Royal Navy official history records that they utilised: 41 destroyers, 6 corvettes, 1 sloop, 2 gunboats, 36 minesweepers, Naval Forces Engaged at Dunkirk
  23. 23. 52 trawlers, 61 drifters, 3 special service vessels, 2 SB’s, 6 MTB’s, 3 armed boarding vessels, 40 schuyts, 26 yachts, 12 motor boats, 6 block ships, 13 landing craft and 8 dockyard freighters.
  24. 24. The Royal Navy was also assisted by the French Navy, who provided 14 destroyers, 13 minesweepers, 12 cargo ships, 59 trawlers and 21 other vessels.
  25. 25. The Belgians provided another 45 vessels and there were an additional 45 personnel ships (including Ferries), 8 Hospital ships and 40 Tugs.
  26. 26. The talk about the shortage of destroyers because High Command was keeping them safe – for the next battle - is nonsense as the Royal Navy held nothing back in evacuating British forces around the clock and at top speed. The talk of “no Destroyers for 6 hours” is ahistoric drivel. No Shortage of Destroyers
  27. 27. The talk about tides adversely affecting the evacuation is also inaccurate. The East Mole breakwater made up of concrete and woodwork extending a mile into the sea was unaffected by the tides and soldiers waded into the surf to be loaded onto the smaller vessels at all times of the day and night. Tides Were Not an Issue
  28. 28. According to the Dunkirk film the soldiers spent most of the time standing on the beach, waiting for ships without a single vessel in sight. Non Stop Evacuation for 7 Days
  29. 29. However, the evacuation was a 24-hours-a-day operation. The mile long East Mole breakwater extended out to sea and
  30. 30. was constantly busy with vessels being loaded on both sides, frequently with soldiers walking across one ship to reach a double-parked vessel on the other side.
  31. 31. Top of the Mole
  32. 32. Nearly 300,000 troops had been returned from Dunkirk by the 2nd May. This is one of the officially released photographs
  33. 33. Exaggeration of the Role of the Little Ships ignores the Role of the Royal Navy
  34. 34. Nolan’s Dunkirk film also greatly exaggerates the role of the little ships.
  35. 35. While undoubtedly heroic, the impression given is that most of the soldiers were evacuated by little ships, when actually only about 5% were.
  36. 36. The power of the German Luftwaffe is greatly exaggerated in Nolan’s film. The Royal Air Force had dominance over the beaches of Dunkirk as they had far shorter distances to fly from their air bases than the Luftwaffe had. The Missing Royal Air Force
  37. 37. In the film it seems that all the RAF could spare were 3 Spitfires. Actually Air Vice Marshall Keith Parks’ Fighter Command Eleven Group in South East England, were sending over squadrons of 24 Spitfires at a time to provide constant combat air cover for the Royal Navy evacuation of the British Expeditionary Force from the beaches of Dunkirk. At no time were just 3 fighters sent out alone.
  38. 38. The maximum speed of a Spitfire is 362 miles per hour, yet they seemed to take an awfully long time to make the 20 miles from Dover to Dunkirk. A Long 20 Miles
  39. 39. One ran out of fuel (although not ammunition) and could not make the 20 miles back to Britain!
  40. 40. It is no doubt visually more impressive to see Spitfires screaming at virtual sea level hopping over the waves towards Dunkirk, but no fighter pilot worth his salt would have approached a combat zone flying at zero feet. Fighters Did Not Approach Dunkirk at Sea Level
  41. 41. Fighters need to come in from a height advantage and that would provide a speed advantage on the descent to target.
  42. 42. Each spitfire was armed with 8 machine guns and each was loaded with 350 rounds (the origin of “the whole nine yards” terminology). A Spitfire could fire continuously for less than 15 seconds per flight. Inexhaustible Supply of Ammunition
  43. 43. Pilots would rarely be able to shoot down more than a single enemy plane on one mission. However in Dunkirk one pilot shoots down four enemy aircraft, using up over 70 seconds worth of ammunition! (This must have been a real special issue Spitfire with an inexhaustible supply of ammunition, just for the film!)
  44. 44. Incredibly the film concludes with a fighter pilot gliding his, out-of- fuel, Spitfire to land on a beach, using his under-carriage! Under no circumstances would any pilot attempt to land on a beach with their under-carriage down. No Pilot Would Land on a Beach with His Wheels Down
  45. 45. The danger of the wheels sinking into the sand and tipping/crashing the plane into its nose, would be too severe. In such a circumstance, a belly-landing on the sand, or sea, would have been the only real option for the pilot.
  46. 46. Encyclopaedia Britannica lists 78 Luftwaffe planes lost over Dunkirk and 84 Royal Air Force aircraft shot down. This fairly even record is not reflected in the Dunkirk film, which makes out that the 3 RAF Spitfires devastated the Luftwaffe. Facts Ruin a Good Story
  47. 47. The Dunkirk film interlinks 3 stories: Land, Sea and Air. The story of the evacuation of the soldiers, from the East Mole of Dunkirk is set to take place over one week. Land, Sea and Air
  48. 48. The story of one of the little ships takes place over one day and
  49. 49. and the story of the flight of three Spitfires is one hour.
  50. 50. Yet, somehow, these all interlink and, in the confusing manner of modern film editing, we are somehow to believe that the multiple events of the soldiers on the ground over one week, co-incided at key times with the same aircraft, which were only over them for one hour and the little ships that took a day to travel from Britain and back. The timing doesn’t add up. Schizophrenic Screen Editing
  51. 51. Kenneth Branagh’s character, based on Naval officer, Captain Bill Tennant, spends the whole time standing on the Mole overseeing the evacuation, wearing his officers cap. The Absence of Naval Helmets
  52. 52. No Naval officer in an operational area, subject to aerial bombardment would have been without his helmet.
  53. 53. Nor was there any reason why Captain Tennant would be supervising the evacuation personally, by standing on the Mole, instead of from the bridge of a Naval vessel with his telecommunication systems and staff around him.
  54. 54. There seemed to be no radio or signaller stationed on the Mole, making one wonder what possible difference this officer thought he could be making.
  55. 55. The impression given in the film that virtually every Royal Navy vessel at Dunkirk was sunk by bomb, or torpedo, is false. Of the over 900 vessels that took part in the evacuation, 231 were lost. It is Not That Easy to Sink a Destroyer
  56. 56. 70% of that was due to collision and misadventure in the channel. Only 37 vessels were sunk because of aerial attack, 7 by torpedo, 9 by mine and 7 by gunfire from the shore.
  57. 57. The brilliant skies make for great cinematography, but veterans who were at Dunkirk described enormous palls of smoke rising from the harbour area, thick and impenetrable, obscuring visibility over much of the town. The Missing Smoke
  58. 58. Both German and British fighter pilots reported seeing Dunkirk from many miles away from the smoke from the oil tanks burning continuously in the harbour.
  59. 59. Operation Dynamo saw Navy, merchant and pleasure ships drafted in to mount a massive rescue
  60. 60. German troops advanced on the western side of the port in May 1940 as the fuel tanks and other buildings were set on fire by the retreating Allies.
  61. 61. British Soldiers of the BEF take a final look back at the French coast during the evacuation of troops from Dunkirk in 1940.
  62. 62. Oil tanks burning
  63. 63. Ships off the beaches at Dunkirk, c.3 June 1940. Smoke still billows from burning oil storage tanks.
  64. 64. The Stuka dive bombers were not able to perform as impressively as depicted in the film. Stukas approached Dunkirk at 12,000 feet and released their bombs at closer to 6,000 feet. Which is why only six of the 41 Royal Navy destroyers at Dunkirk were sunk.
  65. 65. British, French and Belgian soldiers are getting to little ships to leave Dunkirk.
  66. 66. Some of the most important aspects of the Dunkirk evacuation that were left out of the movie include King George VI’s call for an Empire-wide Day of Prayer and Repentance, to be held on 26 May 1940. Without a Prayer
  67. 67. When the British Expeditionary Force was in defeat and retreat, the King made an international broadcast, instructing the people of the British Empire to return to God in Repentance and humbly seek for Divine intervention to enable them to rescue their army from total destruction.
  68. 68. Many millions of people across the British Isles and throughout the Empire flocked into churches, praying in shifts for deliverance. Churches were so packed that people were lined up for hours waiting to get into church, to take part in organised national Repentance.
  69. 69. National Day of Prayer 1940
  70. 70. The record reports two events following this extraordinary Empire-wide call for Prayer. A violent storm arose over Dunkirk, grounding the Luftwaffe. Answers to Prayer
  71. 71. Secondly a great calm descended on the English Channel, which fishermen said they had not seen for a generation.
  72. 72. Thus, the weather was passing from sunny to cloudy, and this, in just one day. Then, how could there be so little wind and how could the sea be so calm?
  73. 73. This allowed many hundreds of small boats to sail across and help rescue British soldiers.
  74. 74. This led to most participants referring to the “Miracle of Dunkirk.”
  75. 75. The King appointed Sunday, 9 June as an Empire-wide Day of Thanksgiving.
  76. 76. This spiritual dimension is more honestly depicted in the 1942 film, Mrs Miniver (nominated for 12 Academy awards and won 6), Mrs Miniver
  77. 77. which concluded with a church service and the congregation singing “Onward Christian Soldiers”.
  78. 78. Also, not mentioned in the film, is why the victorious German Army stopped on the outskirts of Dunkirk. Why Did the Panzers Stop?
  79. 79. After a brilliant Blitzkrieg campaign of only two weeks, both the French and British Armies had been routed and flung back by two German armies, General Von Bock’s Army Group B to the East and General Gerd Von Rundstedt’s Army Group A to the South.
  80. 80. Against the advice of his generals, Adolf Hitler then gave his famous and controversial “Stop Order,” 24 May 1940. His point was that the battle was won and the British “are not our natural enemies.” The Stop Order
  81. 81. Map showing Dunkirk rescue locations
  82. 82. Hoping for peace with Britain and future cooperation in fighting communism in the East, Adolf Hitler told his High Command that the British have an Empire to care for and they must allow their forces to withdraw.
  83. 83. German soldier; Dunkirk, France, summer of 1940
  84. 84. Troops wait in the rubble for a rescue. Prime Minister Winston Churchill hailed the rescue attempt as a 'miracle of deliverance'
  85. 85. Troops involved in the evacuation of British soldiers from Dunkirk, which was one of the largest military operations of the war
  86. 86. Operation Dynamo
  87. 87. Skylark IX boats saved 600 men at Dunkirk.
  88. 88. A little-known aspect of the 'Miracle of Dunkirk’ in 1940 was the number of animals 'adopted’ by retreating British troops,
  89. 89. The little boats sailing up the Thames after Operation Dynamo
  90. 90. Their job done, the 'little boats' are towed up the Thames
  91. 91. French troops fill a ship evacuating Dunkirk
  92. 92. British troops crowd the deck of a Royal Navy destroyer at Dover, 31 May 1940
  93. 93. French troops arrive in the UK
  94. 94. Evacuees Dunkirk
  95. 95. Smiling troops make their way back to Britain following the dramatic evacuation of Dunkirk during the Second World War
  96. 96. British troops evacuate from France as the German army invades 1940
  97. 97. Arriving home
  98. 98. A group of 'walking wounded' British troops evacuated from Dunkirk
  99. 99. Smiling soldiers smoke while others fill up their canteens on board a train during the evacuation of Dunkirk in 1940
  100. 100. Two soldiers enjoying refreshments they received upon their arrival in Britain
  101. 101. The Battle of Dunkirk, Men of the British Expeditionary Force in good spirits as they arrive at a London railway station on their return home,
  102. 102. Also, not depicted in the Dunkirk film was the colossal loss of military equipment. Abandoned Military Equipment
  103. 103. The British left behind on the beaches of Dunkirk: 45,000 motor vehicles,
  104. 104. 20,000 motor cycles,
  105. 105. 700 tanks,
  106. 106. French tanks lie abandoned on the road to Dunkirk showing the chaos and confusion faced by retreating forces
  107. 107. 11,000 machine guns, 850 anti-tank guns, 2,472 artillery pieces
  108. 108. and some 80,000 tonnes of ammunition,
  109. 109. enough equipment to field 10 divisions.
  110. 110. These piers were used by troops to get out to boats in deep water. Vehicles were lined up side by side and planks over the top enabled men to walk across and out to the evacuation points
  111. 111. Bridge constructed of British army lorries topped with deck
  112. 112. The sand strewn with mechanical debris
  113. 113. A German soldier poses in front of the wreckage of a beached ship as others move closer to inspect the damage
  114. 114. An abandoned paddle streamer is pictured abandoned elsewhere on the beach at Dunkirk
  115. 115. The evacuation shows the typical chaos on the beach with vehicles and equipment everywhere
  116. 116. Scores of abandoned trucks and cars give a sense of the chaos faced by Allied troops as they prepared to evacuate
  117. 117. The Dunkirk film just depicts a pile of helmets.
  118. 118. Dunkirk illustrates again the modern tendency to redefine reality through dramatic and gripping presentations which claim to be “inspired by true events”, or “based on a true story.” Redefining Reality and Distorting History
  119. 119. However, the bias against Christianity, of all too many scriptwriters and film producers, leads to dangerous distortions of reality in the minds of those many people for whom Hollywood is their primary source of knowledge about the past.
  120. 120. The censoring out of the spiritual dynamics surrounding Dunkirk, and the urgent call by King George VI for an Empire-wide Day of Repentance and Prayer is inexcusable. It is delusional to pretend that people of that era were as secular as society is today. Anti-Christian Prejudice
  121. 121. A correct understanding of the past is an indispensable aid in making a better future. The truth is not only stranger than fiction – it is more gripping and impressive. Facts are Stubborn Things
  122. 122. “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy - meditate on these things.” Philippians 4:8
  123. 123. Dunkirk veterans Michael Bentall, 94, (left) and Garth Wright (95) on board the Little Ship the Princess Freda
  124. 124. It is essential that we learn the truths of history
  125. 125. to recognise the lies of propaganda.
  126. 126. "And you shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free." John 8:32