Dunkirk’s deepwater legacy

The French marine heritage agency Drassm, in partnership with Historic England, has surveyed 30 shipwrecks in French waters linked to ships lost during the evacuation of Dunkirk, writes

The story of the Dunkirk evacuation, codenamed Operation Dynamo, is well known. However, a largely unrecognised element of the operation today is the scale of maritime loss. Of the assorted 933 British vessels scrambled to help the stranded Allied soldiers from Dunkirk’s beaches and harbour, 305 or more are thought to have been lost. A combination of German dive-bombing , shelling, U-boat torpedoes, mines and even collisions amid the confusion added to the toll. Of the evacuated British and Allied soldiers, 5,000 are believed to have drowned.

The location and identity of many of the lost ships was largely a mystery until now. Between September 25 and October 8 2023, the French marine heritage agency Drassm, in a first-time partnership with Historic England, successfully conducted an underwater archaeological survey that positively identified the location of 30 wrecks sunk during Operation Dynamo.

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