Operation Dynamo was the codename given to the audacious mission to evacuate Allied troops from the beaches of Dunkirk during World War II.
The evacuation is celebrated as one of England’s greatest military triumphs, but it resulted from an overwhelming defeat.
During May 1940, the German army gained the upper hand in a battle being fought in parts of France and Belgium. Allied forces (mainly British, French and Belgian troops) were forced to retreat. They withdrew to Dunkirk, on the French coast. Inexplicably there was a lull in the fighting as the Germans slowed their advance.
Meanwhile, across the English Channel, Britain’s military commanders had devised a plan to evacuate the trapped soldiers. They issued a nationwide plea to civilian boat owners to lend their vessels to the Navy. Then, between May 26 and June 4, a fleet of almost 900 naval and civilian vessels made daily crossings of the Channel under the protection of Royal Air Force fighter planes.
During these nine days, more than 338,000 stranded soldiers were ferried from the beaches of Dunkirk to the safety of Dover. And another 220,000 soldiers were rescued by Navy ships from several other French ports.
About 60,000 Allied soldiers were killed and one million were taken prisoner during the battle and subsequent evacuation. But the overwhelming success of the evacuation gave the British a much-needed boost in morale and ensured they had sufficient manpower to defend themselves in the event of a German invasion.
In a moving speech to parliament soon after Operation Dynamo, England’s great wartime Prime Minister Winston Churchill said the evacuation of Dunkirk was a “miracle of deliverance”. And indeed it was!
Easter celebrates the greatest miracle of deliverance—the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Three days after being tortured and murdered, he rose from the dead—an event that is etched in history.
Christ’s resurrection provides each one of us with the opportunity to be delivered from our two greatest enemies—our self-centredness and our mortality.
Sadly, most people fail to even realise they need to be saved. Imagine how ridiculous it would have been for those doomed soldiers on the beaches of Dunkirk to say to their would-be rescuers, “Thanks awfully chaps, but you shouldn’t have bothered. We don’t need your help.”
God wants to rescue us. He says in Isaiah 45:22, “Turn to me and be saved, all the ends of the earth. For I am God; there is no other.” How crazy it would be to tell God we don’t need his help!
- Originally published in the Orange City Life newspaper 02/04/2010