Hitler's Germany on May 10, 1940 launched its Western Offensive ( Westfeldz), leading to the occupation of the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, the collapse of France and the expulsion of the British from the continent. The critical phase of the fighting was intervened in many accounts of the events of the time by the wrongfully neglected men of the British Fleet Air Arm - His Majesty's naval pilots.
On the evening of May 20, the first soldiers and vehicles from the German 2nd Panzerdivision, belonging to the Heeresgruppe A, penetrated the coast of the English Channel near Noyelles-sur-Mer. Only 11 days have passed since the start of the German offensive on the Western Front, and the fatal rupture of the French defense on the Meuse near Sedan took place just a week ago. Allied troops fighting in Belgium, as well as their rear, based in northwestern France, now remained cut off from the rest of the French army in the south.
The order to launch Operation Dynamo, the famous evacuation of the British Expeditionary Force from Flanders, was issued at 6.57 pm on May 26, 1940. As early as midnight, the first evacuation ship, the mail steamer Mona's Isle, docked in the French port. A total of 1420 British soldiers boarded the vessel. At dawn on May 27, Mona's Isle set out on its return journey. The operation, which was also covered by His Majesty's naval pilots, began. By the night of June 3-4, Royal Navy vesselshad evacuated 308,888 men; The vessel of the French Marine Nationale rescued another 48,474 soldiers. The operation thus ended in unexpected success, although, as Winston Churchill recalled, "evacuations do not win wars ."