Walter Lord’s book, The Miracle of Dunkirk: The True Story of Operation Dynamo, begins as follows:
Every man had his own special moment when he first knew that something was wrong. For Royal Air Force [RAF] Group Captain Collard, it was the evening of May 14, 1940, in the market town of Vervins in NE France. Five days had passed since “the balloon went up,” as the British liked to refer to the sudden German assault in the west. The situation was obscure, and Collard had come down from British General Headquarters in Arras to confer with the staff of General Corap, whose French Ninth Army was holding the River Meuse to the south. Such meetings were perfectly normal between the two Allies, but there was nothing normal about the scene tonight. Corap’s headquarters had simply vanished. No sign of the General or his staff. Only two exhausted French officers were in the building, crouched over a hurricane lamp … waiting, they said, to be captured.
Elsewhere Lance Bombardier Noel Watkin, with the artillery arm of the British Army, heard rumors of a great Allied victory. That night he had nothing but good news for the diary he surreptitiously kept:
Enemy retreat 6 ½ miles. Very little doing till the evening. We fire on S.O.S. lines and prevent the Huns crossing the River Dyle. Many Germans are killed [27,000 was the official count] and taken prisoner.
In Britain, a BBC broadcast called on “all owners of self-propelled pleasure craft between 30 and 100 feet in length to send all particulars to the Admiralty within 14 days.” The call had been prompted not by recent events in Flanders [battle in Belgium], but by the ongoing magnetic [sea] mine threat from the Germans. To counter this, the country’s boatyards were absorbed in turning out wooden minesweepers. Finding its normal sources dried up, the Small Vessels Pool was requisitioning private yachts and power boats to meet its own expanding needs.
That morning Hitler had issued the following report regarding the ongoing invasion of the Netherlands:
The resistance capability of the Dutch army has proved to be stronger than expected. Political as well as military reasons demand that this resistance is broken as soon as possible….
Later in the day, the Dutch city of Rotterdam was the target of an aerial bombardment by the German air force, the Luftwaffe. This would result in Britain changing its policy of not bombing civilian industrial targets. The Germans objective was to support their troops fighting in the city, break Dutch resistance and force the Dutch to surrender.
The Dutch surrendered the next day under the threat of having another city, Utrecht, bombed next.