Volume 3, Chapter 37
“No! Operation Dynamo cannot be canceled!” Churchill shouted to Admiral Bakerhausen.
“… We have not yet reached the point of failure. Dunkirk has not fallen. General Gort is still holding his ground there with the rest of the soldiers. Yet, you, want to abandon them because the loss of four or five ships! Are you still the glorious British Royal Navy? You even want to throw two hundred thousand British officers and soldiers to those brutal Germans.” Churchill shouted at the admiral as silence filled the dozen or so men in the room.
“But, Prime Minister, we cannot safely extract Lord Gort’s army. The German heavy artillery has blocked off the port. They may have hundreds of those guns lined up outside the defensive perimeter. It’s reasonable to say that all of their heavy guns in the region have been diverted into that area. They are determined to destroy the Expeditionary Force. Our transport ships cannot even enter the harbor.” Bakerhausen argued back.
“This is your problem, you are responsible for solving it! I am the Prime Minister, it’s my job to think of how to get the kingdom out of this crisis. We cannot lose the Expeditionary Force, otherwise it would be a disaster! As for how to proceed and implement the plan, it’s the job of the Navy to figure out the details. Come up with something, no matter what troops you use. No matter what, just think of a way. I only need results, I want my army back on British soil. If you fail then the responsibility will be bore by you.” Churchill said expressionlessly.
Eden interjected. “But Lord Gort’s position is not favorable. The port and beaches are all riddled with those time bombs. Leaving great causalities among our troops and engineers. Gort has already marked several areas as restricted zones. There has been work about removing the bombs but they are just too numerous.”
The War Minister continued with a frown. “Their munitions and supplies are already dwindling; the ration sizes are barely sustainable. Gort has said that he could hold on for two more days. After that, the army will be completely out of supplies. A soldier’s morale and combat ability plummet when they become hungry. There have been reports of some soldiers sporadically deserting and running to German lines. Although is only a few cases, most soldiers have maintained their morale and loyalty. However, loyalty by itself is not enough to win this war. If the Germans organize an offensive, the army will soon collapse.”
This caused Churchill to say angrily. “This is exactly what the Germans want to see! They wish to watch silently as the Expeditionary Force collapses in on itself. They want to see our brave soldiers surrender to their barbaric German army. This is exactly what that despicable Hitler wants. No! I cannot allow this disgrace! I cannot allow Hitler to succeed!
Both of you, the Navy and Army must succeed at all costs. To blaze a trail through should it be required. This is not only to safeguard our kingdom but this is now related to the honor of the United Kingdom. How can I comfort our allies if we fail?
Yesterday, I met with the United States ambassador, Mr. Kennedy. He told me that the US Government was very concerned about the current situation. In our private conversation, he told me that if the Expeditionary Force was annihilated, then the United States would reconsider providing further assistance with weapons. Those Americans are only concerned with who wins. Who knows what their interests are in Europe? I suspect that if the Expeditionary Forces falls then they will completely stop supporting us. At worst, their Congress could turn to the Germans to secure future trade with Europe…”
“Well, Prime Minister, our Royal Navy Department has created a plan for the present situation. However, this would require the assistance of the Royal Air Force. However, Sir Dowding did not agree to the Royal Air Force’s participation. If we lack the air force then we will never be able to succeed in the plan.” Bakerhausen said as he glared at the RAF commander, Hugh Dowding sitting nearby.
“Hoh, what kind of plan? Why was this never reported to me?” Churchill asked eagerly to the Navy’s plan.
“We’ve proposed a surprise attack plan. If successful, we can have the Expeditionary Force withdrawn in three days. To summarize, we are prepared to focus the naval forces in the area and proceed down the middle of the strait. We will use large-caliber ship bombardments to suppress and destroy the German’s heavy artillery. All this can be done while outside the effective range of the German shells.
We have already considered the feasibility of this operation. After the proposal was discussed with the members of the naval staff, we’ve determined that the plan will be successful. Simply, because the Germans have nothing to threaten our ships. We’ve discussed the possible threat of an attack with surface vessels. However, based on our latest reports, the German warships are far from their base ports. Even so, they are not a match for our fleet’s ships. The German submarines, on the other hand, may pose a much larger threat. To counter this, we’ve prepared a large number of destroyers to accompany the fleet. Meanwhile, the largest threat, the German artillery, would be void at the distance of engagement.
While our naval guns are suppressing the Germans, we will immediately dispatch a large number of smaller vessels and ferry them back to the destroyers for transport back to the mainland.
Following this procedure, we can guarantee that the two hundred thousand people can be extracted within three days. However, this operation would require the cooperation of the Royal Air Force. While the German artillery cannot intercept the boats, the German air force can. This requires that we maintain air supremacy over Dunkirk. If we send the boats without friendly air cover, they would simply be massacred. Once more, the fleet would need the Royal Air Force’s full strength or this would all be fantasy.”
“Why use small ships? Would regular frigates not work?” Asked Churchill.
“Ever since those several transport ships sank yesterday afternoon, it blocked the last available docking area in the harbor. The area close to the shore is all shallow water, unfit for larger ships. Hence, the task of retrieving the soldiers must be delegated to small boats. Vice Admiral Ramsay has already requisitioned two hundred small fishing vessels and the like.”
“I see, that number may not be enough. The time is crucial, a national mobilization order will be issued.”
“Yes, Prime Minister. However, the issue of the Royal Air Force remains.”
Churchill turned his head to the RAF commander. “Lord Dowding, is there any particular reason for your opposition to this plan?”
“Well, the Royal Air Force had sustained severe damage in France. If we were to participate in such a large operation, we would be forced to send out our primary defensive force. Our intelligence shows that the Germans has concentrated their most veteran pilots in that area. I think even if the plan is successful, the operation capability of the Royal Air Force will be severely damaged. Then in that situation, what can you use to protect the airspace above Britain?”
“You would have us give up two hundred thousand soldiers to preserve the strength of your air force? If there is no army then would your planes stop the German attack? You’re just afraid of your air force being wounded while our army is on the brink of annihilation.” Eden sprung up from his seat.
“You are afraid for your air force. While we, the navy, have lost so much more excellent sailors and officers than could be counted. In order to save those soldiers, we have lost dozens of ships.” Bakerhausen also refuted in a wrathful tone.
Churchill stood up, and he glanced coldly over the generals and ministers. Then he asked Eden, “How long will they hold? What did General Gort say?”
“He told me three days, up to four days. If they are not supplied or withdrawn by that time then surrendering would be the only option.”
Churchill nodded, and grimly asked Bakerhausen, “Admiral, when will the fleet be assembled and when would they arrive?”
“It will be twenty hours until they can be gathered and resupplied for the operation. I had already begun mobilization of the warships as this plan was being drafted. But the air force…”
Churchill shook his head and turned to face Dowding. “Lord Dowding, do you still insist that the Royal Air Force will not participate in this operation?”
“I think this plan is still too risky. If this was a trap of the Germans…”
“Enough!” Churchill’s fierce shout interrupted his words.
“Lord Dowding, you must know, whether it be the Royal Air Force, the Royal Navy, or the Army. They are there to protect the British Empire. If those soldiers are not evacuated, then we will be thrown into a damned position! Simply relying on your air force will not be enough to defend against the German attack. Please remember that it is worth the loss, for the sake of Britain.
Your present performance makes me feel that you’re lost the ideals of a British soldier. You must be dedicated, fearless, and be willing to sacrifice for victory. I now have to reconsider your suitability for your post. I am giving you one last chance, I order you to command your air force and at all costs, fully cooperate with the implementation of this plan. Do you understand, Commander?”
“… I, I understand.”
Hearing Churchill’s words, Dowding knew that no amount of words could persuade him otherwise. It would be futile if he continued to resist.
From this, he finally realized that Churchill was truly desperate. As long as there was a trace of a solution to this current crisis, he would take it. Not to mention that the Navy’s plan was indeed plausible and had the best chances of rescuing the British troops.
Dowding could almost see his planes being carved up by the German fighters. However, he decided to succumb to the Prime Minister’s order. At least yielding was better than the disgrace of being dismissed.
Churchill said to the War Minister, “Send an immediate telegraph to General Gort. Let him take whatever preparations he must to ensure the quickness of his troops when we arrive. This includes cleaning the landing area and so on. This matter will be given to your Army Department. Whatever problems you encounter, find the solutions yourself. Remember, be ready within two days. Tell Gort, surrender is not an option.”
“Yes, Prime Minister.”
“The Navy’s mission now is to further develop the operational plan with the Air Force. All this must be done by the 31st at the latest. The large details have already been decided on so you have two days to prepare. In this period of time, find some ways of providing supplies to Gort. Now, gentlemen!”
Churchill picked up the documents on the table.
“You all remain here and discuss the minor details. I am going to see His Majesty the King.” Then Churchill turned away from the conference room.
The room became quiet for a few minutes before it became noisy with debate.
I’ve begun work on the new series. (Not yet ready to officially post onto NU yet)
Here is the Chapter 1
Units of measure StrawPoll: HERE