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Dunkerque is a French city spelled Dunkirk in English.

After the surrender of Belgium, French and British forces in Belgium retreated to Dunkirk in late May 1940, on the northern coast of France. On Hitler's command and against senior military advisors wishes, the Germans halted their advance, allowing more than 300,000 British troops to return to England and live to fight another day. The troops waded out to British civilian and military rescue-vessels, abandoning their equipment while the German forces just watched.

The successful operation saved what remained of the British army. Despite the humiliating defeat Western propaganda hailed the evacuation as a great victory. British Prime Minister Winston Churchill noted afterward, "Wars are not won by evacuations."