Dunkirk witnessed the landing of the British Expeditionary Force in September and October 1914. Throughout the First World War it was a seaplane base and later an American Naval Air Service base. The town was also a French hospital centre and the 8th Canadian Stationary Hospital was there from November 1918 to April 1919. Although an estimated 7,500 shells and bombs fell on the town during the war, ship building and other port activities continued. However, it was in 1940 that its name acquired a new significance.