On 10 May 1940, the German army and air force launched a massive offensive into northern France, the Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg. The Netherlands surrendered on 14 May 1940 as the Queen of the Netherlands and Dutch government officials escaped to Britain. The German offensive isolated the British Expeditionary Force and several French and Belgian divisions. On 27 May, King Leopold of Belgium surrendered to Germany. The following day, the British prime minister, Winston Churchill, ordered the evacuation of the British Expeditionary Force and remnants of the French and Belgian armies from the French port of Dunkirk.
Over the next eight days, ships of the Royal Navy and hundreds of private fishing boats and pleasure craft evacuated the Allied force trapped at Dunkirk. By 4 June, over 338,000 British, French, and Belgian troops had been transported to Britain. Most of the Allied force's equipment, however, was abandoned on the beaches of Dunkirk. On 5 June, the 1st Canadian Division was the only fully equipped Allied force in England.