I have two dates in mind, 22 May 1940 and and 27 May 1940. It makes more sense that they started evacuating from the mole the 22 of may but I've also heard the 27 from BBC.

The 22 of May was the date when Capt. Tennant arrived to Dunkirk and he was, if I'm correct, the one who ordered the evacuation from the Dunkirk mole.

I don't think that the 27 makes any sense because this means that Capt. Tennant would have waited five days (from the 22) before he made the order and time was not really something that they had a lot of during the evacuation. Which is correct?

2 Answers 2


Encyclopedia Britannica says May 26th

As you noted the BBC says May 27th

The History Channel says May 26th

Admiral Tennant, then Captain Tennant, arrived at Dunkirk on May 26th according to the BBC

And, the Worcester News says that Admiral Tennant arrived on May 26th

English Heritage has an interactive timeline saying the order was given May 26th, but the evacuation started on May 27th

I cannot find anything that says Tennant arrived on May 22nd. Looks like the order was given May 26th, but the boats started moving May 27th.

  • Yea, I've taken a closer look and it sees like Tennant got to Dunkirk the 27th or 26th and they started to evacuate from the mole the 27th, really pain in the ass to find it!
    – richie
    Mar 27, 2012 at 19:23
  • youtube.com/watch?v=L1bl-AZNo3U&t=22m10s watched the whole to find the information
    – richie
    Mar 27, 2012 at 19:28
  • According to the documentary Tennant arrived to Dunkirk the 27th and the evacuation from the mole started the same day at 22.30
    – richie
    Mar 27, 2012 at 19:35

According to Churchill in Their Finest Hour, chapter 3, on May 22 and 23 the B.E.F. and French forces were attempting to break out of the encirclement by attacking S.W. from Arras and vicinity.

Again in chapter 4, Churchill reports that a German message was intercepted in clear at 11:42 a.m. on May 24, halting the Panzers on the line Dunkirk-Hazebrouck-Meyville.

Finally, Churchill has General Gort, on the evening of the 25th of May, ordering an abandonment of the attempt to break out of the pocket, a consolidation of the perimeter centred around Dunkirk, and a march to the sea. The motivation for this change of plan is given as the realization that the Belgian forces holding the northern flank of the perimeter were about to be overrun by German infantry.

It is certain that no evacuation would have started prior to these events having played out, there being as yet no forces on the beaches of Dunkirk to evacuate.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.