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The evacuation of more than 300,000 British and French soldiers from the beaches of Dunkirk after the disastrous campaign in France was hailed by Winston Churchill, while addressing the House of Commons on June 4, 1940, as “a miracle of deliverance, achieved by valour, by perseverance, by perfect discipline, by faultless service, by resource, by skill, by unconquerable fidelity.” He, however, went on to caution his listeners that “we must be very careful not to assign this deliverance the attributes of a victory. Wars are not won by evacuation.”

Jerry Murland provides a short introductory guide to the battle and evacuation in The Dunkirk Perimeter and Evacuation 1940, France and Flanders Campaign. A volume in Pen and Sword’s Battleground series, the book provides a good concise overview, complete with many illustrations and useful maps. Intended for battlefield visitors, Murland includes a suggested tour at Dunkirk that includes the Bastion 32 Museum, memorials, SS Princess Elizabeth, cemeteries, and shipwrecks as well as a tour of related sites at Ramsgate and Dover.

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Pen and Sword has issued a reprint of Take These Men, a classic memoir of tank warfare in the Western Desert in the Second World War. The title is from Pericles, “Take these men for your example. Like them, remember that prosperity can only be for the free, that freedom is the sure possession of those alone who have the courage to defend it.” Written by Lieutenant-Colonel Cyril Joly, who was wounded and awarded a Military Cross and bar while serving in the North African campaign, it was widely acclaimed on its initial publication in 1955. Although written in the fictional form, the book provides a brilliant account of tank warfare and the experiences of soldiers in the Western Desert battles.

 

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