I was reading John Lukacs's Five Days in London when something he wrote struck me. In the chapter on the events of May 27th, 1940, he noted that Britain did not use its capital ships to help evacuate the BEF from Dunkirk or defend them from air attacks. The reason was probably because the capital ships simply made for big targets for the German air force. But that reason doesn't really obscure the fact that there were about 200,000 troops in the BEF. Even if every British capital ship was sunk and lost with all hands, total fatalities would not come close to half the size of the BEF. One might argue that it is precisely because they made for tempting targets for the German air force that they ought to be sent: To shift the German air force's attention away from the army and the transports. Not to mention the fact that those ships could provide more anti-fighter fire. Of course, in the end, most of the BEF was evacuated. But the British government could not have known that before the operation. In fact, estimates before the operation suggest that only about 45,000-50,000 of the BEF could have been evacuated. That still leaves us with the fact that the British government was willing to sacrifice about 150,000 British army soldiers rather than risk the capital ships. There was, of course, a perfectly logical reason why such a calculation was made: 150,000 troops was not as essential to the defense of the British Isles as the capital ships. Whereas the British navy had a sizable superiority over the German navy, the reverse is true when you compare their armies. (I will not get into a debate concerning the quality of the 2 armies. I do think it is indisputable that the German army had a significant quantitative superiority over the British army and I think it was Stalin who noted that quantity had a quality of its own.) I'd like the opinion of the denizens of this forum on this issue. Did the British government make a conscious decision of valuing the capital ships of the navy over the BEF? If so, was that decision correct? P.S. Along the same line of reasoning one might suggest that the British government in May, 1940 made another value judgment: The preservation of 25 squadrons of the British Air Force was more important than the survival of France. The difference being that whereas France was indeed sacrificed, the BEF escaped.