Britain declared war on 3 Sept 1939, but Britain did not
go to war. Poland was too far away to help. So
there was no fighting until Hitler attacked France in May 1940
people called it the
Two things happened you need
to know about:
Britain DID send a small army
– the British
– to France,
but it was too small to be any good and was easily beaten by Hitler's
'Blitzkrieg' tactics. The British soldiers were cut off at
Dunkirk, and had to be evacuated from France by boat.
At the time, the British newsreels presented the evacuation as a British
– the story
of how our small boats heroically
sailed to France and plucked soldiers from beaches ('the
myth of Dunkirk'). But really it was a HUGE defeat
At home, the government tried to prepare for war (e.g. evacuation/ gas
masks) but everything was a terrible muddle, and in May 1940 Churchill took
over a Prime Minister.
British Expeditionary Force of four
divisions – only 160,000 men – went to France.
evacuation of Dunkirk was called ‘Operation Dynamo’.
3. At Dunkirk, many
men were rescued - but
the BEF lost all their guns,
vehicles, ammunition and
petrol and ONE-SIXTH of our soldiers were killed or taken prisoner.