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.

Wreath laying at Dunkirk Memorial 

After the fall of Calais, Dunkirk was the only major channel port in the hands of the British Expeditionary Force. The decision to withdraw to the coast with the hope of evacuating as many men as possible from Dunkirk and the neighbouring beaches was made. Naval vessels and hundreds of civilian boats were used in the rescue.

Unveiling of Dunkirk Memorial

The Dunkirk Memorial was completed some 17 years after the events. It was unveiled by Queen Elizabeth, The Queen Mother on 29 June 1957. She travelled to France with the Duke of Gloucester, the Commission's President, on HMS Chieftain. One thousand six hundred (1,600) veterans and relatives of those commemorated were present at the ceremony and wreaths were laid by the Queen Mother and other representatives.

Unveiling of Dunkirk Memorial

The 75th anniversary of the Dunkirk evacuation was held at the memorial on 22 May 2015, and was attended by Prince Michael of Kent.