By the end of May 1940, Hitler’s army had forced hundreds of thousands of French and British forces to retreat to the English Channel. They found themselves trapped along the shoreline at Dunkirk, France.
Winston Churchill ordered an evacuation, and called on all available British seamen to go to the aid of the trapped soldiers. A hastily assembled flotilla of 846 boats of every imaginable variety crossed the Channel and rescued 338,226 troops. The boats included civilian fishing vessels and pleasure craft. The evacuation, codenamed Operation Dynamo, took place from May 27 to June 3, 1940.