29 May 2010 9:49 PM
Dunkirk: Are we finally ready to face the truth?
I think enough time has passed since Dunkirk for us to admit the truth about it. It was not a triumph, but a terrible national defeat – surpassed in the 20th Century only by the other Churchillian catastrophe of Singapore in 1942.
Having entered a war for which we were wholly unready, for a cause which was already lost, at a time we did not choose and with allies on whom we could not rely, we were flung off the continent of Europe in weeks. Only thanks to a double devil’s pact did we survive as a nation.
We sold our economy and our empire to Franklin Roosevelt’s USA, and we handed half of Europe to Joseph Stalin’s homicidal tyranny. They won the war in the end, though we had to contribute many lives to their victory. Then we looked on as they rearranged the world.
Sooner or later, the fuzzy, cosy myth of World War Two and our ‘Finest Hour’ will fade. We once needed to pretend Dunkirk was a triumph. If we are to carve our way in a hostile world, we now need to understand – as those who were actually on the beaches well knew – that it wasn’t any such thing.