Panzers refueling at French petrol stations?

Discussion in '1940' started by Dave55, Sep 3, 2018.

  1. Dave55

    Dave55 Very Senior Member

    Was watching 'Darkest Hour'. They said that German tanks were refueling at civilian petrol stations during Battle of France. Anyone know if this is true and if there are any pictures of it happening. Sounds reasonable.

    Movie was pretty good, I thought. Not great but pretty good.
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  2. Harry Ree

    Harry Ree Very Senior Member

    Petrol would be regarded as booty and would be taken ad hoc from from civilian stocks as the case might be.However there was always given the opportunity that fuel stocks could be deliberately adulterated as a defence policy.

    Given the speed of the Blitzkrieg,it's likely that these plans, if laid down where not fully executed.Fuel and ammunition stocks would have been destroyed by retreating forces if they had sufficient time.

    Some might remember the case of on the British retreat from Burma,British forces destroyed the Castrol company's oil wells and installations.Postwar,Castrol tried to sue the British government for damages without success,the case going on to the late 1950s as I recall.
  3. Pat Atkins

    Pat Atkins Patron Patron

    I'm glad you asked this question, Dave55 - have always wondered, but have been too lazy to look into it! The ad hoc appropriation of petrol seems entirely likely, as Harry says, but I still wonder if the planned use of French petrol stations was a myth. As folk wisdom has it, just prior to war northern France was awash with hearty Teutonic chaps on bicycles clutching good maps and 'sightseeing'; the locations of petrol stations being marked carefully on the maps for the later benefit of their panzer-driving colleagues. I wonder if this was true?

    Edit: just found a mention in Mike Syron's Panzerkrieg which says they used French roadside petrol stations, though it doesn't shed any light on whether this was planned; interestingly, though on a bit of a tangent, he claims they were airdropped fuel by the Luftwaffe, something I've not come across in the context of 1940 - I'm by no means well-read on the subject though.
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  4. Waddell

    Waddell Active Member

    The question reminded me that there is a great pen and ink drawing in Len Deighton's 'Blitzkrieg' showing a Panzer III and Panzer II refuelling at a French petrol station.

    Deighton talks about the French petrol stations being used because not only were the tanks were well ahead of the supply lines, but also because ammunition replenishment was prioritized over fuel supplies.

    "After the breakthrough, the German's carried three days' rations with them. Sometimes they even fuelled their armour and transport by breaking the locks off roadside filling station pumps. Teams of mechanics pressed enemy civilian trucks or transport into service if they could be put into working order or plundered for spare parts. Such measures enabled the supply services to devote their maximum efforts to ammunition replenishment. Air supply was not needed". (P.234).

    Unfortunately Deighton did not use footnotes, so cannot add more.

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  5. Rich Payne

    Rich Payne Rivet Counter Patron 1940 Obsessive

    They had no choice but to factor in captured stocks, both military and civilian and the speed of the advance was aided by the failure to destroy supplies. There was also a system of flying fuel in jerry-cans by JU52s to newly captured airfields. A number of sorces make reference to this...I suspect Friesser's 'Blitzkrieg Legend' and Horne's 'To Lose a Battle' have something on this.

    Nevertheless, the advancing army had to carry a greater tonnage of hay and oats than it did motor fuel. Here again though, the French reluctance or inability to destroy helped enormously.
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  6. Dave55

    Dave55 Very Senior Member

    I'd love to see that drawing but cannot find it. Anyone have a copy or link to it?
  7. Harry Ree

    Harry Ree Very Senior Member

    As Rich has posted it's unbelievable that the Wehrmacht went to war using a large element of horse drawn transport .Keitel was criticised postwar by German generals as being man who did not further the use of motorised transport to leave the Wehrmacht at a disadvantage.

    The invasion of Poland,the West and Russia bore this out but it was aligned to Hitler's policy of waging war....lightening short wars based on the Blitzkrieg principle which proved to fall short in Russia as the territory for a Blitzkrieg victory was too vast and the retreating Russians adopted the burnt earth policy in retreating.
  8. Dave55

    Dave55 Very Senior Member

    Also one of the reasons Sea Lion was never going to happen. They planned on bringing over 4200 horses in the first wave and over 7000 in the second. That means a lot of hay and oats needed to cross the channel every day.
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  9. von Poop

    von Poop Adaministrator Admin

    With a little help from Google Books.

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  10. Vintage Wargaming

    Vintage Wargaming Well-Known Member

    That’ll be the American edition then
  11. Seroster

    Seroster Canadian researcher

    The irony is that more mechanized transport would have exacerbated Germany's fuel situation even further.
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  12. Orwell1984

    Orwell1984 Senior Member

    Feuergefahrlich - Rauchen Verboten! by Dan Mouritzsen

    Found this page while searching for another picture and thought it might be of interest.

    A gap in the English literature is a good study of German field logistics. Unless there's one I've missed .

    This book [​IMG] has as one of its final chapters a comparison between how German, American and Soviet logistics functioned. But there's a full length book in there I think.
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  13. Waddell

    Waddell Active Member

    Here is the full image ( spread over two pages). And another on the same theme just because they are very good .

    Blitzkreig 1.JPG Blitzkreig 2.JPG
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  14. Harry Ree

    Harry Ree Very Senior Member

    Then looking further into the Wehrmacht's motorised transport. I have read that while the Russians had two standard types of motorised transport plus the US Lend Lease transport vehicles,the Wehrmacht had 80 different types of transport.Just been looking for the book to get the reference,the two Russian transports,state manufactured were named...(posties are the best method of highlighting this sort of information...used often but not this time.)

    It must have been a nightmare for maintenance spares.

    The Germans also requisitioned a large amount of civilian cars (as did the British) which would have been included in the type spread taken into military service. (I saw an amateur film documentary put together and presented by the BBC with British and German inputs,the contributors being cinefilm camera owners with the material filmed during the war.There was a reference to a Mercedes saloon car requisitioned from a German family as a staff car.The commentary recorded that the owners said that the vehicle was used for Russia....the owners were told that they would receive it back after the war which is laughable.)

    Regarding the oil situation,it transpired that Hitler went to war with insufficient oil reserves as as determined by his gamble for short lightening wars.His oil source was from his Romanian ally oilfields and the hydrogenation of coal.The Germans had vast reserves of coal from hard coal to lignite deposits,in fact the largest in Europe and the Bergius principle of hydrogenation was highly developed with more than an adequate source of feedstock.

    The British Ministry of Economic Warfare by 1941 had identified 17 synthetic oil plants and operations again these targets was initiated,the US 15th Air Force later carried out its long range attack in August 1943 against Ploiesti but it was not until the preparations for D Day were being finalised and the US and British air forces came under Eisenhower that strategic attacks on these plants intensified.To the Germans credit, although they quickly responded to plant recovery from bomb damage they could not prevent the tide of destruction against these plants.By November 1944, the effect of fuel shortage started to restrict Luftwaffe flight training and by the New Year of 1945 ,the fuel shortage and the loss of the Romanian oilfields from August 1944 saw a serious effect in lack of fuel stocks. Some tanks formations were immoblised from lack of fuel and the proficiency of the Luftwaffe was impaired.

    The disadvantage of a lack of motorised transport would be felt more than the advantage of using horse drawn transport.Horses required feeding,watering and drivers together with tender loving care...a very labour intensive mode of transport together lacking the speed capability of motorised transport.This was against a background of the Hitler philosophy of the lightening war but as the war progressed,the Wehrmacht still relied on horse drawn transport as that caught up in the Falaise Gap in the Normandy campaign illustrates.

    Hitler thought in September 1939 that his Third Reich would be victorious with the military resources he had at the time for the type of war he envisaged.
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