The French called upon Gort to move his troops south to join them in a defensive stand.
The British commander realized the action was futile and could lead to the annihilation of his command.
In England the call went out for ships - any ships - to help with the rescue. Motorboats, sloops, fishing boats, yachts, ferries, barges and every other variety of boat imaginable poured out of the Thames River and the ports that lined the English Channel to make their way across the Channel to rescue the beleaguered troops.
Guided by the smoke and flame filling the sky above Dunkirk, the ragtag rescue fleet made its way through continuous German attack and treacherous waters to the stranded troops. Some clamored along piers to reach the rescue ships, others wadded out from shore to waters nearly over their heads for rescue.
Seemed like a victory This is when the little ships came to play their part.
A variety of motor boats, fishing smacks, trawlers, lifeboats, paddle steamers and many other types of craft came over the channel to assist in the escape.
We were in a sort of dark traffic lane, full of strange ghosts and weird, unaccountable waves from the wash of the larger vessels.
When destroyers went by, full tilt, the wash was a serious matter to us little fellows. Even before it was fully dark we had picked up the glow of the Dunkirk flames, and now as we drew nearer the sailing got better, for we could steer by them and see silhouetted the shapes of other ships, of boats coming home already loaded, and of low dark shadows that might be enemy motor torpedo boats. We saw them hanging all about us in the night, like young moons.
Many of the little ships, such as motor yachts, fishing boats and all manner of other such craft, were privately owned.
German forces underestimated Although a large number of these ships were taken across the channel by navy personnel - many were also taken over by their owners and other civilians, all eager to help in what had become a catastrophe.