During World War II, Operation Dynamo was the name given to the evacuation from Dunkirk conducted from 27 May to 4 June, 1940. In nine days, 338,226 French and British soldiers were taken off the beach by a ragtag fleet of over nine hundred vessels.
Despite the success of this operation, over fifty thousand vehicles and forty thousand French troops were abandoned after a valiant rearguard action. The British also lost 235 ships of various types. The British commander, Sir Harold Alexander, was the last British soldier taken off the beach. After the French surrender, a majority of the rescued French troops returned to their homeland.