Battle For France 1940.

Discussion in '1940' started by milnut, Oct 13, 2005.

  1. milnut

    milnut Junior Member

    yes, the french politics in the interwar years is one areas which i am not looking forward to researching.

    phil.
     
  2. mahross

    mahross Senior Member

    Phil,

    I suggest you read anything by Martin Alexander. His biography on Gamelin is superb.

    Unfortuanatly, it seems from recent works that France is the root cause of the defeat in 1940. Some people have tried to argue that Britian was unprepared, however this does not show the whole picture. For example, in the field of the development of armoured and combined arms doctrine, I know of at least PhD thesis that contends that the traditional view is misrepresentative. The French however were in all areas miles behind of Britain and Germany.

    Ross
     
  3. Bigfoot

    Bigfoot Junior Member

    The French high command didnt believe, or properly investigate the reports of the attack as it raced on Sedan out of the Ardennes. I believe that this was because they didnt want to believe it. They were just basically listening to thier own hype for so long that they didnt have the ears to hear or the eyes to see the truth. In short, self-delusion.

    So, whos fault was it that the GHQ didnt have reports from sources that they believd? Where was the recon and intel service...aerial recon? Scouts on the ground?

    Sometimes battlefield commanders must dismiss many reports, as the reports comming in to GHQ in those days were often exagerated by scared privates and green lieutenants, and so on. sometimes one would listen to the reports and believe that the whole line was being attacked by millions of ten foot tall monsters on every sector. The fog of war...this is where commanders must use thier own experience to make descisions. Having a well trained and utterly reliable corps of scouts who give very accurate and detailed data is crucial.

    So, where were the specialist scouts and recon guys that the GHQ would actually lisen to? Where were these reports? What were the sources for the reports of Sedan? Well, they were there, but ignored because it didnt fit into what the GHQ expected to hear. Creditable sources were sending the alarm enough so that somebody should have listened. Officers with enough rank and experience were sending the reports up, but they fell on deaf ears.

    Also, the value of penny-packett defenses should have been gamed out in the pre-war years to see how it worked against the Blitzkrieg tactics. There was talk, but training policies were set up on political rather than military foundations. Nobody wanted to arrange the training scenarios in such a way to say to the govt that the expensive Maginot line was useless. It wasnt politically correct to do so.

    Those are my two basic gripes that I have with the French army 1940. It lies with the generals rather than the privates. It is easy for privates under any army to loose thier heads when the generals goof things up (SNAFU) beyond repair.

    So, I say that the French GHQ didnt have/ listen to the Ardennes and Sedan reports with an open mind. Its like playing chess; if you get so focussed and fixated on what tricks you will put on the enemy that you dont think to see what he can do come his turn, then you will be surprised when he nabs your queen! Thats my first gripe...French GHQ didnt listen/ react to the reports they had...and they didnt do enough to gather more both before and after the attack from the Ardennes.

    Secondly, the French GHQ didnt practice a good OPFOR mission in pre-war training. The US Army is excellent in its OPFOR training for the modern army. They try to make the trainign as realistic as possible, and if the "good guys" units are not on the ball, the OPFOR is allowed to win. This is how to train troops for war. The French were guilty of not having an OPFOR training program to address this in the pre-war years. The military exercises were more of a well choreographed and controlled show to make the GHQ and politicians have a "feel good" result, rather than the truth.

    So, when 1940 came, the French army was not up to speed. Of course, many of these faults would have ironed themselves out in time, but the pace of war in 1940 was much faster than 1914, and the French GHQ didnt have time for a learning curve to weed out the pre-war BS. Thy might have had the time if the French Air Force has been bigger, more modernized, and trained to the OPFOR standards that applied to the times.

    The same goes for the Dutch and Belgians, especially the air forces. Planes caught on the ground? What...nobody seen that one comming? Was there nobody paying attention to Poland...or Norway? Blitzkrieg doenst mean a politically correct, according to plan attack!

    So, I say of the French; Bad on them for bad recon, report handling and GHQ reaction to these reports. And bad on them for not having realistic training and exercises in the pre-war years.

    After all, thier pre-war observations of German exercises should have told them something bad was comming.
     
  4. Mark Hone

    Mark Hone Senior Member

    There are interesting and well-informed counter-factual speculations on the 1940 campaign in 'Options of Command' by T.N. Dupuy (thinks Allies could have held German assault with more sensible deployment of forces) and in 'What If?' edited by Deutsch and Showalter (particularly on the chances of success of the original 'Plan Yellow' which was more like Schlieffen Plan II).
     
  5. Bigfoot

    Bigfoot Junior Member

    Was there any talk at the time that certain French commanders might have "left the door open", or did things that might have helped the Germans? I guess what I am asking is whether or not there was any talk that some of the French Army leaders might have been in collusion with Germans?

    One would think that recriminations and accusations would fly after something as bad as this? Im only asking, I dont know of anything specific, and Im not making any accusations. Just asking if there was any talk in that light?
     
  6. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran Patron

  7. canuck

    canuck Closed Account

    The legacy of those events seems to linger even today. The Dutch have always expressed open gratitude for their liberation and have close ties to Canada as Canadian units fought throughout Holland. The French response seems very different and less enthusiastic. My personal opinion is that many resent having to be liberated at all. To be fair, that is not a universal sentiment but I sense that many French don't like to be reminded that troops from other nations gave them their freedom. Being a proud people, I've wondered if the humiliation of 1940 plays a part in that as well. Am I off base with that view?
     
  8. Bigfoot

    Bigfoot Junior Member

    Too bad about the links, Ron. What did they say? Was there talk like that?

    Canuk; I think that many Europeans would like to forget about WWII altogether.
     
  9. RJL

    RJL Senior Member

    That's a thing that I've heard being said about the French quite a few times Canuk. To be honest, it's not a sentiment that I've ever heard coming from any French person I've ever met. I think you hit the nail on the head with it certainly not being a universal thing. And from my own personal experience, it's not a view of or opinon about the French people that I'd share.

    A personal example: On another website, talking about family or people you knew from the Wars, I happened to mention about my family members who were buried in France. That was it, I said no more about it. One day later I received a few PMs from a couple of young French people offering to get me photos.

    "When I saw that you had a relative buried near where I live I knew it was my duty to take photos for you."
    "It is an honour for me to do this for you".
    "What the British and Commonwealth Armies did for us in 2 world wars, we will never forget".

    Yes, some might recent the memory of it but you are 100% correct, it isn't universal.
     
  10. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot 1940 Obsessive

    I'm sure some are very thankfull for the Allied effort but I'm sure there are a few that are not so bovered like whoever did this in France:

    [​IMG]

    and

    [​IMG]

    Regards
    Andy
     
  11. Heimbrent

    Heimbrent Well-Known Member

    I don't consider rightwing and leftwing extremists' opinions representative or worthwhile viewpoints...
     
  12. canuck

    canuck Closed Account

    That's a thing that I've heard being said about the French quite a few times Canuk. To be honest, it's not a sentiment that I've ever heard coming from any French person I've ever met. I think you hit the nail on the head with it certainly not being a universal thing. And from my own personal experience, it's not a view of or opinon about the French people that I'd share.

    A personal example: On another website, talking about family or people you knew from the Wars, I happened to mention about my family members who were buried in France. That was it, I said no more about it. One day later I received a few PMs from a couple of young French people offering to get me photos.

    "When I saw that you had a relative buried near where I live I knew it was my duty to take photos for you."
    "It is an honour for me to do this for you".
    "What the British and Commonwealth Armies did for us in 2 world wars, we will never forget".

    Yes, some might recent the memory of it but you are 100% correct, it isn't universal.

    Thanks RJL. It really was a question as I'm not prepared to label all the French on the basis on a single visit (dammit, I envy you guys in the UK who can just scoot across the channel). However, it was a point raised as well by a guy who runs veterans bus tours. As was noted, maybe the memories are too painful for many and they simply don't want to hear about it anymore.
     
  13. CROONAERT

    CROONAERT Ipsissimus

    I'm sure there are a few that are not so bovered like whoever did this in France:

    [​IMG]




    I have a strange feeling that there is more at play as regards the (disgusting) Notre dame de Lorette vandalism depicted than just a few mindless idiots. There are two sides to every coin as I witnessed first hand at that site last (or was it the Easter before?) Easter. Put it this way - it wasn't the neo-"nazi" skinheads who the Gendarmerie were having to baton in here that day!!!

    dave.
     

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