By Tom Dare
INCREDIBLE COLOUR pictures showing the dramatic evacuation of Dunkirk during World War II have emerged on the release day of the huge blockbuster film about the daring military operation.
And one of the men pictured appears to show a striking resemblance to the film’s London-born star, Fionn Whitehead.
Images show a flotilla of British ships making their way across the channel as part of the rescue attempt, while another sees a group of soldiers wading through the sea as they make their way toward a boat.
And Royston Leonard, the man who restored the original black and white photos into colour, says Dunkirk shows how “even defeat can be turned into victory.”
“I see a beaten army but not a defeated one,” he said.
“We went to war still stuck with ideas from World War One, and we weren’t ready for a modern fast-moving war like World War II.
“At that time, we were not ready for modern war. But this just shows how by working together even defeat can become a victory.”
The evacuation of British soldiers from Dunkirk was one of the largest military operations of the war, with approximately 338,000 men rescued from the beaches during Operation Dynamo.
A staggering 933 ships took place in the operation, from navy ships to fishing ships, with only 697 returning to Britain.
The operation was scheduled after hundreds of thousands of British, French, Belgian and other allied forces became trapped by the German army on the beaches of Dunkirk following a failed attempt to set up a base on mainland Europe.
Winston Churchill, who at the time had only been Prime Minister for 16 days, called the original operation “a colossal military disaster,” but hailed the rescue attempt as a “miracle of deliverance,” during his famous ‘We will fight them on the beaches’ speech.
The failed attempt saw the allied armies abandon huge amounts of equipment when they left the beach, including 2,472 guns, 63,879 vehicles, 20,548 motorcycles, 76,097 tons of ammunition and 416,940 tons of stores.
Most of these were recycled by the German army, who captured 40,000 French troops when Dunkirk eventually fell.
And the historic events have recently been turned into a blockbuster film starring former One Direction star Harry Styles, which opens in cinemas across the country today.