Battle of France
Is a campaign launched by the Axis forces (Germany and Italy), against the Allied forces (France, Britain, the Netherlands, Belgium and Luxembourg) in the Second World War between May 10 and June 25, 1940, ended with the defeat of the Allies and the occupation of France and the Low Countries.
The Germans plans and allied plans
After the Polish invasion on October 1939, the Germans gradually began to move their troops to the western front and began to prepare plans for the attack.
The basic plan was the Schleswig’s Plan, submitted by a German military man, who died before the First World War, and was implemented in that war and did not succeed. German commander Ehrich von Manstein, the chief of staff of the army (A), criticized this plan and proposed an alternative plan.
The alternative plan was to make the main attack, the task of Army (A), through the Ardennes Forest (Luxembourg and southern Belgium), while the secondary attack was the Army (B) mission led by Commander Fedor Von Pock, in the north in Netherlands and Belgium.
Von Pock opposed this plan, which makes his attack a secondary attack, wondering how German forces could advance 300 kilometers without being intercepted by Allied airliners. The German High Command was not enthusiastic about the Manstein plan (which was helped by the commander Heinz Gooderian), but after a German aircraft was shooted down in Belgium, on January 10, 1940, the plan of Manstein was finally adopted.
However, as Schleswig’s plan, Manstein’s plan had the moral flaw of attacking neutral countries, especially Belgium, but this was only a concern for Commander Wilhelm Ritter Von Lieb, commander of the (C) Army on the German-French border, but not an obsession to the German leader Adolf Hitler, the author of the order in the state.
The Ronchette group, which was responsible for the main attack across the Jordanians, has three armored corps, divided into seven teams, led by tank expert Guderian, Hans Georg Reinhardt, and Hermann Haut.
On the other hand, the French, led by the French Allied commander Maurice Gamelin was not fooled, as he did not believe that the Germans would leave the neutral countries and attack France from the German-French border where they face the Maginot line.
Gamelin believed that the Germans would re-implement the Schleswig’s Plan. The Allies put in place a plan called the Dell Plan, which sought to repeal the Germans’ main attack through the neutral countries, and there was a political impediment to that plan: as the neutral countries would not allow France and Britain to use their territory against Germany.
No one expected that the Germans would make their main attack through the Ardennes forest, which they considered as a natural barrier, with the exception of one French officer, whom no one cared about.
Balance of Power
The Germans had 2,600 tanks, while the British and the French alone had 3,600 tanks.
In contrast, the Germans had 2,750 planes compared to 1690 for the French and British.
The start of the attack
The German attack started on May 10, 1940, with parachutes on Netherlands and Belgium, was carried out by the 7th Air Division led by Kurt Stoddant and the 22nd Infantry Division led by Spoonik, supported by the second Air Force led by Albert Kesselring.
Despite the quick reaction of the Allies, the Germans had the advantage. On May 14, the Dutch announced their surrender.
On the other hand, the Ronchett group began to penetrate the Ardennes and headed to the Meuse River, successfully completed its mission and succeeded in separating Allied forces who attempted to launch a French attack led by Charles de Gaulle on 17 and 19 May and a British attack.
The Allied forces failed to reunite their troops. On May 20, the Goodrian Corps arrived in Noel on the coast, and the Allied forces were completely separated.
French Prime Minister Paul Reno tried to salvage the deteriorating situation. On May 17, he contacted Commander Maxim Wigan (who was in Syria) and appointed him as the Allied commander in chief instead of Gamelin. Wigan arrived on May 19 but had no magic wand to change the situation.
German pressure continued on Allied forces besieged in the north.
On May 28 the Belgians surrendered after considerable resistance.
British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, who took office on May 10, 1940, saw the best solution was to evacuate troops so that they would not be exposed to be captivated.
The Allies picked up a radio signal belonging to German army (A), led by Ronchette, to stop the attack. There is disagreement over whether Hitler or Ronchette is the owner of that order, but it was anyway the golden opportunity for allies to save their troops.
On June 4, the Allies managed to evacuate more than 338,000 troops, but the first French army soldiers were not fortunate enough and were trapped in Lille.
When it became clear to Italian leader Benito Mussolini that the Germans had settled the war for them, he declared war on Britain and France on June 10, yet his armies did not achieve a feat.
On June 14 the Germans entered Paris, and the French resistance did not continue long afterward. Prime Minister Reno resigned on June 16 and his successor in the government was the famous commander of World War I, Philip Petan.
The new French government signed the Armistice Agreement on June 22 in the Compiegne Forest in the same vehicle where the Germans signed the truce in 1918. On June 24 they signed a truce with the Italians, and the shooting stopped the next morning.
This victory costed the Germans by, 27,074 dead, 111,034 wounded, 18,384 missing, while the Italians lost 631 dead, 2,631 wounded and 616 missing.
In contrast, the French lost more than 92,000 dead and 250,000 injured. But their greatest loss was the freedom of their homeland, so De Gaulle led the resistance movement from exile.
For Hitler, this was not only retaliation for the defeat of the First World War, but it was also neutralizing the rear front, and he was now free to carry out his expansionist project to the east, towards the Soviet Union.