With its buildings buried under the sand, the Fort des Dunes is a remarkable example of a military installation designed by General Séré de Rivières. It was built in 1878, at the same time as the Zuydcoote Battery, to protect Dunkirk and its port from attacks from the east.
During the Second World War the Fort des Dunes was at the heart of Operation Dynamo, the biggest evacuation operation in military history, which allowed 338 000 allied soldiers to escape the Hell of Dunkirk. A hundred or so soldiers died under the intense German bombing and among them was General Janssen, commander of the 12th Motorised Infantry Division. Other dramatic events took place during the war, in particular, the execution of 8 members of the French resistance in 1944.