How many of them fought on in the Free French Forces and how many of them simply repatriated back to France?

2 Answers 2


Most of them were shipped back to France within the week. The Battle of France was not quite over and the Dunkirk evacuees were still French military.

Most French evacuees from Dunkirk had elected to be returned to the fight; the British troops had gone home to be re-equipped.

- Williams, Andrew. France, Britain and the United States in the Twentieth Century 1900–1940: A Reappraisal. Palgrave Macmillan, 2014.

If there is little awareness of the great numbers of French extracted from Dunkirk, there is even less that most were back in their own country in under a week.

- Alexander, Martin. "Dunkirk in Military Operations, Myths and Memories." Britain and France in Two World Wars: Truth, Myth and Memory. Ed. Robert Tombs and Emile Chabal. A&C Black, 2013.

In hindsight, this was a massive potential loss for the incipient Free France.

  • 1
    that seems abit wasteful :/ Commented Jan 26, 2015 at 9:31
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    They were shipped back to France to continue fighting, but then the armistice was declared. Anyway it was not that easy to be later a "free french" as it means becoming an outlaw from the army, with possible repercussions on family in France in uncertain times.
    – Nikko
    Commented Jan 26, 2015 at 9:33
  • @EvilWashingMachine It made sense at the time. The French surrender was a bit of a surprise. Britain and France had agreed not to make any separate peace. A week after Dunkirk (June 11th at the latest), Paris hadn't yet fallen (it was declared open), the French still had a substantial military and could have defended the south of France at the Loire River. Britain didn't even have the material to equip its own troops, let alone the French, so it made sense to send them back to fight as quickly as possible.
    – Schwern
    Commented Jan 27, 2015 at 18:49
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    It is pertinent to note that 3000 French soldiers who did not elect to return to France formed the embryo of the Free French forces under de Gaulle.
    – Anaryl
    Commented Jan 27, 2015 at 23:37

More than 100,000 evacuated French troops were moved to camps in various parts of south-western England, where they were temporarily lodged before being repatriated. British ships ferried French troops to Brest, Cherbourg, and other ports in Normandy and Brittany, although only about half of the repatriated troops were deployed against the Germans before the surrender of France. For many French soldiers, the Dunkirk evacuation represented only a few weeks' delay before being killed or captured by the German army after their return to France. Of the French soldiers evacuated from France in June 1940, about 3,000 joined Charles de Gaulle's Free French army in Britain. At least one ship repatriating the French soldiers to France was sunk by the Germans, with great loss of life.

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