Retreat to Dunkirk 1940
25-28th May 2023
The cost is £675 with a £175 single supplement
The cost is on a Bed & Breakfast basis.
The tour follows the early weeks of the Second World War in North-West Europe as German armoured formations utilising the famed ‘Blitzkreig’ tactics smashed into British and French forces in France and Belgium, necessitating a withdrawal which eventually led to the beaches of Dunkirk and Operation Dynamo.
This tour begins in the pivotal French town of Sedan to examine the heroic resistance put up by independent French units to slow the enemy advance before following that withdrawal through the town of Stonne before heading south west to pick up with the BEF. Studies of the British counter-attack at Arras and rear-guard defence all the way back to Dunkirk will follow, finishing of course with a detailed look at Operation Dynamo itself.
Dan Hill and Dr Spencer Jones
Dan is incredibly proud to have worked for over a decade as both a professional military historian and battlefield guide across Europe. Having led thousands of battlefield tourists on trips across battlefields, he understands just how powerful the experience can be. Dan holds a Master’s degree in the History of Britain in the First World War and has worked as a consultant in the media and on a number of national and international military history projects.
Spencer is an award-winning historian and author. He is a Senior Lecturer in Armed Forces and War Studies at the University of Wolverhampton and is the President of the Guild of Battlefield Guides. He also serves as the Regimental Historian of the Royal Regiment of Artillery.
Our first day on the battlefields sees us travelling east to the town of Sedan where French troops found themselves in the line of two huge armoured thrusts aimed at crossing the Meuse river in May 1940. We will study the major actions around Sedan itself and set the scene for what was to follow over the next few weeks.
Our day today is spent focussing on the incredible gallantry shown by individuals and groups of servicemen in holding off overwhelming German attacks on the approaches to Sedan and as forces attempted to fall back in contact with a highly mobile and effective enemy force. Our afternoon visit will be to the small village of Stonne where a local French armoured attack showed that the enemy was far from unbeatable.
On our third day we switch focus to pick up the story of the British expeditionary force as they fall back towards the port towns of Dunkirk and Calais and attempt to keep contact with their French allies. We examine the famous allied counter-attack around the town of Arras and begin to focus on the remarkable rear-guard actions which play such as vital role in buying time for those approaching the beaches.
Our final day on the battlefields is a fully focussed exploration of the remarkable Operation Dynamo. Beginning at the town of Cassel, we study the rear-guard defence of the hilltop town before visiting the sites of the tragic Wormhoudt and Le Paradis massacres before moving to Dunkirk itself to see first-hand how Anglo-French forces held the Germans at bay thus allowing the allies to fight another day.