Dunkirk Cemetery and Memorial | Attraction Guides | History Hit

Dunkirk Cemetery and Memorial

Dunkirk, Nord-Pas-de-Calais and Picardy, France

Luke Tomes

24 Nov 2020
Image Credit: Shutterstock

About Dunkirk Cemetery and Memorial

The Dunkirk Cemetery and Memorial commemorates the 4,505 missing dead of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF), most of whom fell prior to and during the Battle of Dunkirk in 1939 and 1940, during the fall of France in the Second World War.

Dunkirk Cemetery and Memorial history

On 25 May 1940, large numbers of the British Expeditionary Force as well as the remaining French troops found themselves perilously surrounded by the encroaching German army. Thanks to the unexpectedly successful advance of German troops under General von Manstein, over 370,000 allied troops found themselves at great risk.

The next day, Operation Dynamo begun, and despite initial skepticism, over the following eight days would prove one of the most successful evacuations in military history.

The Dunkirk Cemetery and Memorial are located near this site, where hundreds of thousands of allied troops were evacuated as part of Operation Dynamo – the historic campaign to rescue cut off troops from the advancing German forces.

Dunkirk was also the site of an important naval base for the allies in the First World War.

Dunkirk Cemetery and Memorial today

Dunkirk Cemetery houses 460 World War One graves and 793 from World War Two, of which 223 are unidentified. At the entrance to Dunkirk Cemetery is the Dunkirk Memorial, commemorating 4,500 British Expeditionary Force troops who died or were captured there during World War Two and who have no known grave.

Getting to Dunkirk Cemetery and Memorial

The Dunkirk Memorial stands at the entrance to the British War Graves Section of Dunkirk Town Cemetery, which lies at the south-eastern corner of the town of Dunkirk, immediately south of the canal and on the road to Veurne (Furnes) in Belgium.

On entering the cemetery through the columns of the Dunkirk Memorial, two Commonwealth war graves sections will be seen: Plots IV and V from the First World War and Plots I and II from the Second World War. There is also a further First World War section (Plots I, II and III) in the main part of the cemetery to the right of the main entrance.

Wheelchair access is possible to the cemetery. There is a disabled parking space marked on the road immediately in front of the Dunkirk Memorial, and a slope has been built to allow wheelchair access from the pavement to the memorial.


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