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JUNE 1940 SECOND BEF

Discussion in 'War44 General Forums' started by susancammas, Mar 9, 2018.

  1. susancammas

    susancammas New Member

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    Good morning

    In my search for information on Dunkirk, I came across some amazing information:

    "Second Expeditionary Force
    The following force was sent to France during the second week of June 1940 in an unsuccessful attempt to form a second British Expeditionary Force. This second formation was to be commanded by Lieutenant-General
    A. F. Brooke. All units were evacuated in late June 1940, during Operation Ariel:
    52nd (Lowland) Infantry Division - Major General J. S. Drew and
    1st Canadian Infantry Brigade (from 1st Canadian Infantry Division)"

    This came from wikipedia, which I know is not always a 100% reliable source, but I was astounded to read that while massive efforts were being made between 26th May and 4th June to rescue the troops cornered in Dunkirk, the planners were sending more men back to France, almost immediately, only to have to rescue them too a week or so later. How many men would have been in the 52nd infantry Div and 1st Canadian Inf. brigade?
    The Navy and small boats must have been very busy!
    I can't believe that so much time and effort was spent in what appears to have been a badly planned shambles.
    I wonder how many men lost their lives.

    I have had a look around this forum for any info on the 2nd BEF, but there doesn't appear to be anything about it.
    Can any of the experts confirm that the above from wiki is accurate and perhaps fill in some background? Were they the only men to be evacuated during Operation Ariel? Any French (or other) troops or civilians?

    Many thanks
    Susan
     
  2. BFBSM

    BFBSM Member Patron  

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    Have a look here: HyperWar: London Gazette No. 37573

    The UK Official History will give you some details on the composition of the 2nd BEF and the time of entry into France of the Units, some of which arrived much earlier than June 1940: HyperWar: The War in France and Flanders, 1939-1940 (UK--History of the Second World War) (Chapter 10 on for some of the activities of the units in Southern Command, many of the units of which made up the 2nd BEF after its formation).

    And here: 2nd BEF

    And here: Operation Aerial and Operation Cycle

    Mark
     
  3. Carronade

    Carronade Ace

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    They were hoping to continue the campaign and keep France in the war, which would be highly unlikely if the British didn't have troops of their own in the battle. The alternative was to give up and concede the whole Channel coast and most of western Europe to the Germans. Of course the problem was conceiving some effective strategy.....they considered options like forming a redoubt in Brittany, but it quickly became clear that nothing like that was possible.

    Fortunately the decision to evacuate was taken fairly promptly, so most of the troops got away, although there were losses such as the sinking of the liner/troopship Lancastria. It was not as chaotic as Dunkirk; they were able to embark from ports rather than over the beaches. Some French troops and a substantial Polish contingent were evacuated, and much of the Second BEF's equipment was also saved.
     
  4. susancammas

    susancammas New Member

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    Belated thanks to you both for your help.
    I'm going to delve into the links you sent.
    Susan
     

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