Set in during the Battle of France in World War II, Allied soldiers from Britain, Belgium and France undertake Operation Dynamo, the miraculous evacuation of the Allied soldiers from the beaches and harbour of Dunkirk between 26 May and 4 June 1940 while surrounded by the German army. In 1940, during the Battle of France, hundreds of thousands of Allied soldiers have retreated to Dunkirk. Tommy, a young British private, is the sole survivor of a German ambush. At the beach, he finds thousands of troops awaiting evacuation and meets soldier Gibson, who is burying a body. After a German dive-bomber attack, they find a wounded man. They rush his stretcher onto a hospital ship, hoping to remain aboard, but are ordered off. The ship is sunk by dive bombers; Tommy saves soldier Alex. They leave at night on a destroyer, but it is torpedoed by a U-boat. Gibson saves Tommy and Alex from the sinking ship, and they are brought ashore by a rowing boat. On the mole, Royal Navy Commander Bolton and Colonel Winnant discuss the situation; British Prime Minister Winston Churchill has committed to evacuating 30,000 soldiers, and with only a single, vulnerable mole available for embarking on deep-draft ships, the Royal Navy requisitions civilian vessels that can get to the beach.