If France decides to fight on in 1940, how much can it evacuate to Algeria?

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If France decides to fight on in 1940, how much can it evacuate to Algeria?

Post by Futurist » 07 Sep 2018 23:38

If France decides to fight on in 1940 (for instance, if the U.S. is already in the war at that point in time but--for whatever reason--France still ends up falling), how much people, industry, et cetera can it relocate/evacuate to Algeria (and perhaps other parts of French North Africa, such as Tunisia and Morocco)?

Also, what effect would this have on World War II?

In addition to this, would France be less willing to give up Algeria in the post-World War II decades in this scenario? Or would this not have made any difference in regards to this?

Any thoughts on all of this?

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Re: If France decides to fight on in 1940, how much can it evacuate to Algeria?

Post by BDV » 08 Sep 2018 00:45

La Maritime Nationale
Few hundred aircraft
Few hundred 2-man tanks

The man equivalent of 3-5 infantry divisions (plus what they have in England courtesy Dynamo) -they could transport MORE but not available (unless the male populace of Gascogne, Languendoc, and Provence is inducted en masse).

In any case, with anglofrench blockade in place, Lybia and Somalia-Ethiopia are kaput.
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Re: If France decides to fight on in 1940, how much can it evacuate to Algeria?

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 11 Sep 2018 23:38

Don't have time to collect my notes and books right now. From memory:

Priority for the Army was first skilled support personnel, then select staff and other cadres, training specialists, and select high quality units. Low priority would be any remnants of combat regiments that made it to the ports. It was expected most of those would be overrun before they could reach a port.

The same for the air force. Mechanics trained for the modern aircraft, logisticians, select staff cadres, pilots trained for the modern aircraft.

The Navy already had a fair size fleet base facility in Algeria & lesser facilities scattered about. A large number of skilled and less skilled personnel could have been evacuated

The evacuation was well underway when the cease fire came. And it continued for some days after until the Germans dictated and started enforcing the Armistice terms. I recall a claim the French had to return several battalions of new tanks to Europe to comply with the Armistice.

There was also a 'discussion' between the French and Germans over aircraft to be returned. As I understand there were over 160 Martin model 167 bombers in Morocco and Algerian after the Armistice. Randal Reed suggest the air strength of the French in NW Africa in July could have been 800+ operational aircraft. This seems counter intuitive, but both the Martin and Douglass aircraft companies had built a combination of final assembly plants/maintinance debts/technical training facilities in Morocco and Algeria. The Martin facility had assembled some 200 bombers by July and had more kits on hand. The Douglass facility in Algeria was just starting assembly of kits for the DB-7. The French AF had other training and maintenance facilities in NW Africa for its own aircraft. There were approximately 300 more aircraft enroute from the US by mid June, including assembly kits for the French version of the P35/36, as well as the M-167 & DB-7. One source claimed another 1200 aircraft scheduled for delivery from the US July-December.

I'll try to make time to look up details and sources this week.

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Re: If France decides to fight on in 1940, how much can it evacuate to Algeria?

Post by maltesefalcon » 12 Sep 2018 00:34

Assuming a sizeable portion of the naval, air and land element makes the miraculous trek to safety, what then? Mainland France is held hostage and occupied, but now with no armistice terms to protect the local population.

Algeria is a poor nation with little in the way of infrastructure or resources. The rescued troops will need food, water and fuel whether their combat is successful or not.

And suppose the Germans don't play their game? There is little of intrinstic value there, so simply isolating the French by air and naval attacks would eventually wear them down. After all they have no replacements.

Even if America sent aid, the Germans could blockade the Strait of Gilbraltor, especially if the Italian navy pitched in.

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Re: If France decides to fight on in 1940, how much can it evacuate to Algeria?

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 12 Sep 2018 02:33

maltesefalcon wrote:
12 Sep 2018 00:34
...
Even if America sent aid, the Germans could blockade the Strait of Gilbraltor, especially if the Italian navy pitched in.
The US does not need to send 'aid', even in the longer term of a couple years. As of the Armistice the French gold and currency reserves had been removed. As early as March 1940 two shipments of gold bullion had been transferred from France to the depository in Toronto as collateral for the numerous purchases France was making in North America. The Bearn had carried a large portion of the remainder to Martinique. Other bits were elsewhere. Originally the French had expected to eke out these cash reserves into 1942. With a smaller military to support those reserves can certainly last that long, perhaps longer.

Algeria was not a impoverished province. While not a industrial state it had already lucrative mineral deposits, and a profitable agricultural export business. Ditto for Tunisia, and Morocco. Beyond that French Indochina provided a large portion of the worlds latex/rubber & had a valuable tin mine. The Mekong delta was a rice factory, exporting to all of Asia & beyond. Bottom line here is the empire is intact, and the French government is in good shape financially.

When the Germans attacked in May 1940 there were roughly a eight infantry divisions or equivalents forming in NW Africa. A half dozen other from the region had been sent to France previous to May. The region did not lack for willing manpower. Equipment for those forming in Africa was at hand there. In 1943 the Free French were easily able to reform the regiments in NW Africa into eight field and two training divisions on the US Army pattern. Plus skilled personnel for several operational and training air wings.

& if the Germans blockade the Strait of Gibraltar the Atlantic ports on the west Moroccan coast can be used. Tho I'm hard pressed to see how the strait could be blockaded against the combined strength of the French and British navies. the Axis could not do this against the British navy alone.

I could go on, but the idea that the French forces in NW Africa would collapse or vaporize is clearly a nonstarter.

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Re: If France decides to fight on in 1940, how much can it evacuate to Algeria?

Post by Loïc » 12 Sep 2018 09:49

Evacuation decided at which date?...15th may, 1st june, 15th june?

Remained 400 000 men and 9 poors divisions in North Africa after both 84e and 85e DIA were sent to France, of course Germans Italians and Spanish would facilitate the things for the French, sure...
French Army facing the Italian Army in the east and 150 000 Spaniards were concentrated in Morocco in the west, a garrison who had usually only ~30 000 soldiers in their protectorate before 1940
the French Intelligence Services considered it was enough one week for the Germans to sent 7 divisions in Andalucia once they reach the Pyrénées

the Armée de l'Air and Marine could be almost saved but for the Army it is an other matter and there was not at all war industry in North Africa

really the serpent de mer of the french-speaking history books and forums since 1940

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Re: If France decides to fight on in 1940, how much can it evacuate to Algeria?

Post by OldBill » 12 Sep 2018 18:12

The Germans had to stop to refit and reorganize by the time of the armistice, in all probability they will have to do the same, again, if they have to fight through the entirety of France to reach the Mediterranean coast. Much of what is being proposed as probable actions by Hitler (invading Spain, then launching an invasion of N. Africa) seems speculative at best. Franco proved to be very, very reluctant to commit to the Axis cause IOTL, IMO he wouldn't change his mind in this instance. Franco was much more interested in protecting Spain and rebuilding after the war than in any kind of Nazi alliance with a man (Hitler) who he didn't trust.

If Hitler invades Spain to get at French N. Africa then he would be making an opposed crossing, an amphibious assault, to reach N. Africa, against the French and very possibly the Spanish, with only the Italian Navy against both the MN and the RN. The RM was very good, but those are long odds indeed.
What he could have done, IMO the most likely option, was to send troops in via Libya. Doing so however, will still take time. Many years ago when FFO started I was involved in it. All of this was hashed out then, and to my great regret the pressures of life made my continued participation in the project impossible. I came around to the view then that it was possible, and still hold that view.

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Re: If France decides to fight on in 1940, how much can it evacuate to Algeria?

Post by Loïc » 12 Sep 2018 21:50

Germans certainly not against the Spanish but with them, Franco's Spain was more pro-axis pro-german nazi-friendly anti-allied and specially anti-french than the franquist postwar white-washing myth wrote, the invasion of France was seen as a just chastisement and revanche for them, even promising to "reduce to ashes Bordeaux and Toulouse" with the germans, if Spain didn't enter in the war it was not thanks to the so-called great long term vision of the Caudillo as it has been repeated everywhere but thanks to Hitler himself and the fact that precisely French North Africa was neutralised
if not in june 1940 in Morocco the French and Spanish were on the brink of military confontation, with the Armistice Spain just missed the opportunity to do that Siam/Thaïland supported by Japan did in Indochina, the neutralisation of French North Africa, giving a two-years reprieve, protected it also from Italians and Spanish appetites in june 1940

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Re: If France decides to fight on in 1940, how much can it evacuate to Algeria?

Post by pugsville » 13 Sep 2018 02:26

Loïc wrote:
12 Sep 2018 21:50
protected it also from Italians and Spanish appetites in june 1940
I'd heavily question the offensive capabilities of both the Italians and Spanish armies in 1940.

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Re: If France decides to fight on in 1940, how much can it evacuate to Algeria?

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 15 Sep 2018 02:13

Dug out the 1970s article of Reed with a section on this subject. His estimate for the number of ground field formations that could be evacuated is a lot higher than mine, or anyone else here. Specifically "..there would not thane been more than 15 or 20 divisions once everything available in Africa and England, plus escapes from France had been gathered together." Since there were approx eight division size formations already in French NW Africa tha means between six and eleven division HQ and manpower transferred. More than I'd thought.

Reeds estimate for aircraft evacuated is all remaining modern aircraft, which including those already in African means maybe 800 total. Like some many people Reed notes the inability of the French to manufacture parts to keep these planes flying. Like most people he seems unawayre half the 'modern' aircraft would have been US models. Principally the French variant of the P35, the DB-7, & M-167. Those did have substantial parts already stocked in Africa, and more enroute from the US.

As for refitting the French ground forces; the US possess a considerable arms reserve in its National Guard. Some thirty fully kitted square divisions, with weapons similar to those, or near identical in some cases, to those the French were trained in. ie: the 1,000+ 75mm guns sent to Britain in 1940 could have just as easily gone to the French. Since this was a direct derivation of the French design training with this weapon is not a large issue.

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Re: If France decides to fight on in 1940, how much can it evacuate to Algeria?

Post by OldBill » 15 Sep 2018 04:16

There were also a large number of the US 155 howitzers (French Schneider M1917), of which the US purchased over a thousand from France. The US then began production at home. IIRC there were several hundreds available for export in 1940.

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Re: If France decides to fight on in 1940, how much can it evacuate to Algeria?

Post by Loïc » 15 Sep 2018 10:28

Hello

as written there were 9 Divisions in North Africa,
one disbanded who could be raised again (2e Division Marocaine)
more two (84e 85e DIA) "if" not decided to sent both in France after the 15th may = 9 to 12, Mareth line troops as the division-size, 13
the Divisions in Algeria having only a 65mm mountain group instead of usual 3 field and 2 heavy divisionnal groups

Image


3 more were still in Levant 86e 191e 192e = 15 or 16 divisions

when the French Army 3 years later was requiped by the US in North Africa
4 Armored Divisions and 9 Infantry Divisions were formed = 13 less 5 were disbanded before any participation (3e DB 6e DIM 7e 8e DIA 10e DIC) on the French or Italian soil

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Re: If France decides to fight on in 1940, how much can it evacuate to Algeria?

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 16 Sep 2018 02:52

I don't think it takes a deep analysis to see the Italian navy is entirely outclassed by the combined French and British Mediterranean fleets. Number and the Italian performance in 1940 & 1941 show the inferiority.

The numbers of ground forces are of importance only if the Axis can move significant numbers of German ground corps to Africa. The Italians in place in Lybia in 1940 have a very limited offensive capability, the first problem being a lack of preparation, and then their poor senior leadership.

This leaves the air war. More information on the probable evacuation of ground support and aircraft to Africa would be useful. My rough numbers only go so far in use here. Confirmation of the aircraft and parts expected from the US would be useful as well. On the Axis side there are the raw numbers, tempered by the quality of the Italian air force in 1940. Perhaps more important would be the number of all weather airfields available to each side on Sicilly, Tunisia, and western Lybia. Counter intuitively paved airfields are important in the dry sumer as well as the rainy season. I've read repeatedly how Everyone, Italians, British, Germans, and Yanks had severe problems with dust/operating losses when based on unpaved airstrips in the dry season. Hangars and maintenance shelters are also important. vs the lack or, when trying to keep up a sortie rate, and reducing mechanical losses.

Finally there is the little asked question of how much the Brits could send for air support?

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Re: If France decides to fight on in 1940, how much can it evacuate to Algeria?

Post by Kingfish » 17 Sep 2018 10:10

Carl Schwamberger wrote:
16 Sep 2018 02:52
I don't think it takes a deep analysis to see the Italian navy is entirely outclassed by the combined French and British Mediterranean fleets. Number and the Italian performance in 1940 & 1941 show the inferiority.
Indeed, adding the French med fleet into the mix changes the strategic picture in one fell swoop. The combination of Force K in Malta and a French equivalent operating out of Tunis / Bizerta would make Italian convoy runs to Tripoli prohibitively expensive.
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Re: If France decides to fight on in 1940, how much can it evacuate to Algeria?

Post by Mori » 17 Sep 2018 16:10

There is a whole counterfactual effort on this scenario: https://www.amazon.fr/1940-France-avait ... 860&sr=8-2

It's supposed to be backed by quantitatve analysis, which unfortunately did not make it to the published version (too dull for a casual reader, I assume). The early evacuation of everything that could be moved to North Africa is probably the most reliable part, because it's closer to the divergence point.

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