A Flight Simulator Odyssey

by Charles Gulick

Operation Dynamo

Chart: Northern France
En Route Coordinates:
   Aircraft: NI8410, E14413
   Tower: N18348.963, E14274.842
   Aircraft: 1500
   Tower: 14
Heading: 244
Time: Daylight

You are over the Strait of Dover, but along the coast of France instead of England; and here the strait is called the Pas de Calais, and the English Channel is called La Manche.

There is a historic beach just ahead, where the land sticks out its shoulder. It's that of the coastal town of Dunkirk, famous for a mass evacuation of troops, called Operation Dynamo, by the British Royal Navy during World War II.

Early in May 1940, Germany had invaded the Low countries, Belgium, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, and advanced through Belgium and Holland to draw the British and French forces north. Winston Churchill was named prime minister, and on May 12 made his famous "I have nothing to offer you but blood, toil, tears and sweat" broadcast. On the sixteenth, the British and French began a retreat before the rapid advances of the German Panzer Corps and Rommel's 7th Division. A few days later, the Germans captured Amiens and Abbeville on the Sommes River, completing a wide corridor to the English Channel.

On the twenty-fourth, Boulogne and Calais were under attack. The British and French, forced westward and trapped at the Channel, converged on the beaches of Dunkirk. Here they were exposed to heavy bombing and shelling, and the threat of extinction. On the twenty-ninth, launching Operation Dynamo, ships of every description--naval and civilian--together with the Royal Air Force rushed to Dunkirk to effect an emergency evacuation. In all, some 900 vessels were involved. Before the Germans reached Dunkirk, more than 388,-000 British and French troops had been removed in one of the most remarkable such exercises in history. But the evacuation was not without its costs. 80 merchant and naval ships and many smaller vessels were sunk, and 80 RAF pilots lost their lives. The operation terminated on June 2, and two days later Churchill made his most famous speech: "We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall never surrender."

Your short flight will take you over the beaches and along the coast to Calais for a landing on Runway 25. Elevation is 17 feet.

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