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
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
(and sometimes also Ostend
in Belgium). These are the most common entry ports for passengers and day-trippers, rather than freight.
When plans for... Read More