In September 1939, following the German invasion of Poland,
Britain and France declared war. Within weeks, the British
Expeditionary Force (BEF) had deployed to France, taking up
defensive positions along the border with Belgium.
The long-awaited attack came on 10 May 1940, with a massive
German offensive through neutral Holland and Belgium and into
Despite desperate attempts to stem the tide, German tanks broke
through the Ardennes and began a charge for the French coast.
Allied forces were overawed by the speed and ferocity of the
Within just ten days, German panzers reached the coastline where
the River Somme met the sea. The BEF and French forces in the north
were cut off, and began a fighting retreat towards Dunkirk.