The British Expeditionary Force (BEF) like its namesake in the Great War, was the British force in Europe from 1939–1940 during the Second World War. Commanded by General Lord Gort VC, the BEF constituted one-tenth of the defending Allied force resisting the German invasion in May 1940.
The British Expeditionary Force was started in 1938 in readiness for a perceived threat of war after Germany annexed Austria in March 1938 and its claims on the Sudetenland, which led to the occupation of Czechoslovakia in March 1939. After the French and British had promised to defend Poland, the German invasion of that country began and war was declared on 3 September 1939.
The BEF was sent to France in September 1939 and deployed mainly along the Belgian—French border during the so-called Phoney War leading up to May 1940. After the commencement of battle, they were driven back through Belgium and north-western France, forcing their eventual evacuation from Dunkirk and other ports along the French northern coastline in Operations Dynamo, Ariel and Cycle.
DESPATCHES FROM THE FRONT: THE BEF IN FRANCE 1939-1940 Manning the Front Through to the Dunkirk Evacuation
The brave but inglorious story of the BEF, deployed in France and Belgium to meet the German invasion in May 1940, but beaten back to the French coast and evacuated from Dunkirk in Operation Dynamo Includes all the Despatches relating to the British Expeditionary Force in 1939 and 1940.