Was the term Operation Dynamo known to the general public in May/June 1940?

Discussion in '1940' started by dbateson, Apr 23, 2014.

  1. dbateson

    dbateson Junior Member

    Did the British general public know the term 'Operation Dynamo' during the actual evacuations in May/June 1940?

    If not, what terms or terms did the British military, civilian authorities, BBC etc. use to describe the events unfolding at Dunkirk?

  2. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    Surprised no one has thrown their thoughts into this. It's not something I can answer 100% accurately but I'm pretty certain the British public didn't hear the code name Dynamo until after the event. The fact most of the BEF were being pulled off the beaches at Dunkirk was a secret as I know there was quite a bit of hush hush around the requisitioning of the 'little ships' that went over in late May. I think it was just referred to as a big withdrawal or similar by the media.
  3. JCB

    JCB Senior Member

    Not the public but I have read quite a few soldiers accounts and never heard them refer to operation Dynamo at the time.
  4. dbateson

    dbateson Junior Member

    Thank you, Drew5233 & JCB for your feedback. db
  5. Staffsyeoman

    Staffsyeoman Member

    Operational codewords are usually subject to operational security constraints - it's only relatively recently they have started to be used as media handles; I have not seen any references to Torch, Husky, Anvil (for a few other WW2 examples) in the newspapers.
  6. papiermache

    papiermache Well-Known Member

    The name of Operation Dynamo appears to have come to public attention by March 1941 when John Masefield, Poet Laureate from 1930 to 1967 ( who died 47 years ago today ) had his book about Dunkirk published.

    On the title page there is written: " The Nine Days Wonder ( The Operation Dynamo ) by John Masefield.

    The dedication on a later page states: " This tale is dedicated to Vice-Admiral Sir Bertram Ramsay, K.C.B., M.V.O., to The Officers, Warrant-Officers and Ratings, and to all others who bore a hand in the Operation Dynamo."

    The last stanza of a poem he wrote in this otherwise day-by-day account of the evacuation, with a folded chart, reads:

    "When,lo, out of the darkness, there was light,
    There in the sea were England and her ships,
    They sailed with the free salt upon their lips
    To sunlight from the tomb."

    Masefield's better known poetry includes the lines I know I had to remember at school but have forgotten:

    ( From "Cargoes", in Ballads (1903) )

    "Dirty British coaster with a salt-caked smoke stack,
    Butting through the Channel in the mad March days,
    With a cargo of Tyne coal,
    Road-rails, pig-lead,
    Firewood, ironware, and cheap tin trays."
    Drew5233 and Rich Payne like this.

Share This Page