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Dunkirk: The New Evidence 1x60

It is known as the “Miracle of Dunkirk”. In May 1940, over 300,000 Allied troops, including—according to Churchill—the “whole root and core and brain” of the British Army were trapped with their backs to the sea and subjected to an endless barrage of bombs and bullets from the Luftwaffe. The situation seemed hopeless. Then came the miracle: a fleet of ships appeared on the horizon—the bulk was sent by the Royal Navy but they were joined by smaller crafts captained by plucky civilians. Amazingly, 340,000 soldiers were rescued from the beaches and taken safely back to Britain. The men would one day return to win the war. But behind this miracle is a dark secret. Soldiers and mariners, angry that they had been left undefended against the Luftwaffe, took retribution. Air crew were physically assaulted and stopped from boarding escape vessels by embittered survivors. Dunkirk has long been viewed by historians as the Royal Air Force’s poorest hour. Now, recently released MoD files tell a very different story. Plane by plane, crew by crew, the records document that far from being absent, the RAF were suffering massive losses supporting the evacuation. Operating at high altitude and deep inside French territory, the RAF was in fact halting the bulk of Luftwaffe bombers before they could reach the beaches. The files also reveal that, on the verge of collapse, the RAF unveiled their new secret weapon: the Spitfire. It was the first time the Spitfire flew in anger and the agile fighter proved a spectacular success. Dunkirk: The New Evidence tells the story of the real miracle of Dunkirk. For decades the Navy were the heroes; in this moving special we reveal that the miracle was not just down to the Little Ships, but to the massive sacrifices of the RAF.