Siege of Calais (1940)

Siege Of Calais (1940)

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Siege of Calais (1940)

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The Siege of Calais (1940) was a battle for the port and town of Calais during the German blitzkrieg which overran northern France in 1940. It immediately preceded Operation Dynamo, the evacuation of the British Expeditionary Force through Dunkirk.

It has long been a subject of debate whether the sacrifice of the largely British garrison at Calais contributed to the successful evacuation from Dunkirk.

The German Drive to the Channel

On 10 May 1940, the Germans launched their offensive against France, Belgium and Holland. Within a few days, the concentrated German Panzer Group achieved a breakthrough against the centre of the French front near Sedan, and drove westwards. On 21 May, they captured Abbeville at the mouth of the Somme River, cutting off the Allied troops in Northern France and Belgium from those to the south.

The Panzer Group, spearheaded by the XIX Panzer Korps under General Heinz Guderian, turned to its right and drove against the rear of the cut-off Allied armies. Guderian's corps consisted of three Panzer Divisions and an SS motorised infantry regiment. They advanced north along the coast almost unopposed, although they were harassed by air attacks.

Despatch of British troops to Calais

In British colloquial usage, the Channel ports refers to the group of ports nearest to Cap Gris Nez: Calais, Boulogne and Dunkirk (and sometimes also Ostend in Belgium). These are the most common entry ports for passengers and day-trippers, rather than freight.

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