As France fell to the German armies in May 1940, 400,000 Allied troops were trapped on the beaches of Dunkirk. Their annihilation seemed certain—a disaster that could have led to Britain’s surrender. But then, in a last-minute rescue, Royal Navy ships and a flotilla of tiny civilian boats evacuated hundreds of thousands of soldiers to safety across the Channel—the legendary “miracle of Dunkirk.” Now, NOVA follows a team of archaeologists and historians as they recover fresh evidence of the courage, technical ingenuity, and brilliant planning that led to the operation’s success. With access to previously classified files recently released by the British government, they uncover the truth behind the myths of Dunkirk—notably, a claim that the Royal Air Force failed to protect the stranded men from the Luftwaffe’s constant bombing of the beaches. Featuring an exclusive excavation of a newly-found Spitfire wreck, NOVA debunks the myth and highlights the essential role of RAF planes and pilots in reversing the desperate stakes that played out in the air above the beleaguered men.