Dunkirk will, for many people, always be associated with Operation Dynamo, the evacuation of 350,000 Allied troops from its beaches in the face of the German advance during the early summer of 1940. The soldiers were transported across the Channel in all manner of vessels, from cruisers to fishing boats and pleasure craft, in the largest wartime evacuation ever staged.
Today this busy harbour town, Dunkerque in French, is served by passenger ferries and cargo ships. Much of the town has a distinctly 1950s character, the result of the post-war rebuild, but a fine medieval belfry and the red brick Hôtel de Ville, which rivals that of Calais, are two of the older landmarks worth seeing. There are also some small and interesting museums, with displays of wartime photographs and military memorabilia, together with modern art and assorted other exhibits telling the story of Dunkirk's transformation from tiny fishing hamlet to major Channel port.