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What the battle of Dunkirk was like Essay

The evacuation of Dunkirk in WW2 will always be seen differently as either disaster, success or both. At the time of the evacuation many people had their own opinions of what happened, from seamen to commanders to news reporters. In source A Commander Thomas Kerr clearly thought the evacuation was far from a success. His disapproval of the operation and the army’s conduct may have been down to the fact that he himself was part of the navy. He may have wanted to put down the army to make the navy seem better in comparison because of the rivalry between the forces.

This makes source A slightly unreliable because of his motives. His favouritism showed through while saying, “The sight of our naval uniforms restored some order to the rabble”. He obviously portrays the navy as a sort of saviour to the army, yet also says, “Their faith in the navy was pathetic”, which is his way of saying that the navy knew it was beyond their abilities to do everything. This could show him trying to be honest. Also being a commander he would have been able to have a good overview of the battle, so probably could see everything he said which makes this source a little more reliable.

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Bill Elmslie in source B does not give a clear view if he believes that the evacuation succeeded or not, yet he does give across the view that the manner of the evacuation and the situation on the beaches were chaotic. He uses verbs like, “hammering, hurtling and streaking”, to show that the settings were very frantic which I can believe is a reliable description of the beaches at times. Yet something which makes the source seem peculiar is the phrase, “His machine guns cutting through those columns of soldiers like a reaper slicing through corn”. For a common seaman he seems to speak too well, almost rehearsed.

This makes me jump to a conclusion that he may have been told to say these words to help create the myth of Dunkirk, because those words surely wouldn’t be a familiar phrase to him. This makes source B seem somewhat unreliable too. Source C is from another seaman and seems quite exaggerated. He speaks of a most courageous sergeant who fought off eight German aircraft with just a single gun. I find this very hard to believe and I think that what this Cornish seaman has said is just a story he has either made up or over praised so he can show off to the people back home about the bravery in the British army.

He may have also been told to say this by a higher figure to show that navy men have respect for the army, so overall I think this source is unreliable. In conclusion I did not find any outstanding reliable source because they all had faults within them, yet I would say that source A is the most reliable. I’d say this because the quote is from a figure with authority, who should be trusted and honest. His account seems a lot more plausible than the other twos and he had the advantage of having an overview of the whole battle.

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