Dunkirk & the Little Ships: Myth versus Reality

Episode 13,   Oct 24, 2022, 08:54 AM

Our guest for this episode of the Warships Pod is Dr. Philip Weir, a much esteemed naval historian who specialises in the history of the Royal Navy in the first half of the 20th Century. His most recent book is ‘Dunkirk and the Little Ships’. 

Discussing that famous event is the major topic during his chat with podcast host Iain Ballantyne. In looking at the ‘miracle of Dunkirk’ of May and June 1940 - a story that still grips peoples’ imaginations even more than 80 years later – Iain asks Phil if it is just another example of the British turning a military disaster into some kind of triumph? Or a bona fide victory in the face of impossible odds?

Iain also asks if the role of the famed ‘little ships’, in what was called Operation Dynamo, is misunderstood. What impact did they really have on the evacuation effort? And what exactly were ‘the Little Ships’? Also, has the Royal Navy’s major contribution to (and sacrifice in) Operation Dynamo been overlooked?

Among the other things Iain and Phil discuss is the greater role of the Royal Navy in that so-called ‘Spitfire summer’ of 1940. Has the Royal Navy’s major part, in deterring a cross-Channel invasion by the Germans while fighting the U-boats in the Atlantic, been unjustly consigned to the shadows of our collective memory?

The career of the remarkable Admiral Sir Bertram Ramsay - the man who commanded Operation Dynamo - is also discussed.

Aside from also chatting about notable movie depictions of the Dunkirk evacuation Iain asks Phil if he was given the chance to save and preserve any warship from the past, which vessel would it be and why? The answer may be a surprise…

•For more details on Phil Weir’s book about the heroic Dunkirk evacuation
Follow him on Twitter @navalhistorian

• Iain Ballantyne is the Editor of WARSHIPS International Fleet Review magazine.
For more details on the magazine http://bit.ly/wifrmag
Follow it on Twitter @WarshipsIFR and on Facebook @WarshipsIFR
Iain Ballantyne can be found on Twitter @IBallantyn