Critical events from this month, 80 years ago
To commemorate 80 years since the Second World War, History of War will be taking a look at some of the key events taking place each month of the conflict
Two British soldiers tuck in to food and drink provided after their evacuation from Dunkirk, during Operation Dynamo. After the thousands of tired and hungry troops arrived at the channel ports, they were welcomed by civilian volunteers, as well as members of the Royal Army Supply Corps, who provided hot drinks and food. Feeding and transporting the returning soldiers was a huge, logistical operation, with volunteers working day and night, handing out sandwiches, cheese, fruit, pies and other muchneeded, and welcome, refreshments.
Eager to not be left out of the victory over France, on 10 June Mussolini declared war on Britain and France, opening another front in the south of the country, and across the Mediterranean, although the Italian armed forces were ill-prepared for a major offensive. However, by the time Mussolini entered the war, Paris had already fallen and France was on the brink of total capitulation.
On 18 June Charles de Gaulle gave his famous speech, appealing to the French people to continue the fight against the Germans. Though there is evidence to suggest that de Gaulle’s speech was not heard by a large number of his countrymen, his words nonetheless became a powerful symbol of the early resistance to the occupation, and an opposing to the Vichy regime under Philippe Pétain. From his base in London, De Gaulle continued to broadcast his speeches to France and the UK through the BBC. Radio Londres (Radio London), a nightly Free French radio programme was broadcast by the BBC throughout the years of the occupation, with broadcasts beginning with the words “Ici Londres. Les Français parlent aux Français” (“This is London. The French talk to the French”). These broadcasts would also later be used to communicate coded messages to resistance members in France.