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22/04/2021 12:49pm

Dunkirk Medal

Conflict
 
World War II.
 
Further relevant historical context can be found at the foot of this entry.
 
History
 
The Dunkirk Medal is technically a ‘commemorative’ medal presented by the French National Association of Veterans of the Fortified Sector of Flanders and Dunkirk (and later administrated by the Dunkirk Veterans Association) on behalf of the French town of Dunkirk to remember the defence of the area during the retreat of the British Expeditionary Force during World War II. The medal was established in 1960 and initially awarded only to the French defenders of the Dunkirk pocket, numbering about 30,000.
 
In 1970, the qualification for the award was expanded to include most of the British who served in the Dunkirk sector between 29 May and 3 June and their rescue forces - including the Royal Navy, Royal Air Force, Merchant Navy, and the civilians who volunteered to man the ‘little ships’.
 
Description
 
This medal was struck in bronze and is approximately 36mm wide and 44mm in length when measured at the centre. The obverse of this medal depicts a circular wreath of laurel with an anchor mounted with the arms of Dunkirk.
 
The reverse depicts a burning ancient oil lamp over a tablet with the inscription; ‘DUNKERQUE 1940’.
 
Two crossed Gallic swords sit under the suspension on both sides. The ribbon suspender is a fixed ring on the medal, intersected by free ribbon rings.
 
The medal was issued un-named - but was presented with a named certificate.
 
Ribbon
 
 
The ribbon is 36mm wide and is yellow-orange in colour with both a wide and narrow red stripe with a thin black line in between at either side.
 
Bars/Clasps
 
None were authorised for this medal.
 
Further relevant historical context can be found at the foot of this entry.
 
Dealer Retail Value *
 
Dunkirk Medal
£65.00
Modern Reproduction
£30.00
 
* It should be noted that the values quoted above reflect the average price that a medal dealer may expect to sell this medal for - please see the ‘things you should know’ web page for more details about valuing medals.
 
Further Historical Context
 
This section contains information on:-
 
- The Dunkirk Evacuations.
 
The Dunkirk Evacuations - The Dunkirk evacuation, code-named ‘Operation Dynamo', also known as the 'Miracle of Dunkirk', was the evacuation of Allied soldiers from the beaches and harbour of Dunkirk, France, between 27 May and 4 June 1940. The operation became necessary when large numbers of British, French, and Belgian troops were cut off and surrounded by the German army during the Battle of France in World War II.
 
In a speech to the House of Commons, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill called the events in France 'a colossal military disaster', saying that 'the whole root and core and brain of the British Army' had been stranded at Dunkirk and seemed about to perish or be captured.
 
In his 'We shall fight on the beaches…' speech on 4 June, he hailed their rescue as a 'miracle of deliverance'.
 
After the Soviet Union and Germany invaded Poland in September 1939, marking the beginning of World War II, the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) was sent to aid in the defence of France. Germany invaded Belgium and the Netherlands on 10 May 1940, and three of their Panzer corps attacked France through the Ardennes and rapidly drove to the English Channel.
 
By 21 May, the German forces had trapped the BEF, the remains of the Belgian forces, and three French armies in an area along the northern coast of France. Commander of the BEF General John Vereker, 6th Viscount Gort immediately saw that evacuation across the Channel was the best course of action, and began planning a withdrawal to Dunkirk, the closest location with good port facilities.
 
A controversial Halt Order was issued with German dictator Adolf Hitler's approval 22 May. This gave the trapped Allied forces time to construct defensive works and pull back large numbers of troops toward Dunkirk. From 28 - 31 May 1940, in the Siege of Lille, the remaining 40,000 men of the once-formidable French First Army fought a delaying action against seven German divisions, including three armoured divisions.
 
On the first day of the evacuation, only 7,669 men were evacuated, but by the ninth day a total of 338,226 soldiers had been rescued by a hastily-assembled fleet of over 800 boats. Many of the troops were able to embark from the harbour's protective mole onto 39 British destroyers and other large ships, while others had to wade out from the beaches, waiting for hours in the shoulder-deep water.
 
Some were ferried from the beaches to the larger ships by the famous little ships of Dunkirk, a flotilla of hundreds of merchant marine boats, fishing boats, pleasure craft, and lifeboats called into service for the emergency. The BEF lost 68,000 soldiers during the French campaign and had to abandon nearly all of their tanks, vehicles, and other equipment.
 
In his speech to the House of Commons on 4 June Churchill reminded the country that 'we must be very careful not to assign to this deliverance the attributes of a victory. Wars are not won by evacuations'.
 
This information was taken from ‘Wikipedia’. The original article and details of the authors can be found here. It is reproduced on this web-site under the ‘creative commons’ licence which can be found here.