The combined British, French and Belgian forces were split around Armentières. The German forces then swept north to capture Calais, holding a large body of Allied soldiers trapped against the coast on the Franco-Belgian border. It became clear to the British that the battle was lost and the question was now how many Allied soldiers could be removed to the relative safety of England before their resistance was crushed. From May 22 preparations for the evacuation began, codenamed Operation Dynamo, commanded from Dover by Vice-Admiral Bertram Ramsay. He called for as many naval vessels as possible as well as every ship capable of carrying 1,000 men within reach. It initially was intended to recover around 45,000 men of the British Expeditionary Force over two days, this was soon stretched to 120,000 men over five days. On May 27 a request was placed to civilians to provide all shallow draught vessels of 30 to 100 feet for the operation, that night was the first rescue attempt. A large number of craft including fishing boats and recreational vessels, together with Merchant Marine and Royal Navy vessels, were gathered and sent to Dunkirk and the surrounding beaches to recover Allied troops. Due to heavy German fire only 8,000 soldiers were recovered.