HistoryGeek2019 wrote: ↑
11 Nov 2019 20:49
The French Eighth Army held the west bank of the Rhine from Strasbourg to Switzerland. This army had 5 divisions, and the Third Army Group to which it belonged had 2 divisions in reserve. In addition, there were two fortress divisions (104 and 105) holding the west bank of the Rhine south of Strasbourg. The other fortress divisions you list (SF Altkirch, Montbéliard, and Belfort) were deployed in the south facing Switzerland. 54 and 67 DI were B series divisions in reserve, and 67 DI was deployed to the south facing Switzerland, not the Rhine.
Um, the former SF Colmar is where the Germans attacked...it was renamed 104e DIF on 16 March 1940. On the same day SF Mulhouse became 105e DIF. No, SF Altkirch, Montbéliard, and Belfort were not "facing Switzerland" inasmuch as the French had little to fear from the Swiss.
Altkirch covered the lower Rhine crossings and the small possibility of a German attack encroaching on Swiss territory. Montbéliard covered the Belfort gap. BTW, I just realized that Belfort was actually a PF (Place Fortifiée) and not a SF (Secteur Fortifié). My bad. PF Belfort controlled SF Montbéliard, Altkirch, and Jura.
Yes, the 67e DI was in the PF Belfort. The 54e ID was the interval troops for the SF Colmar (104e DIF), while the 19e DI performed the same function for the SF Mulhouse (105e DIF).
So, a crossing of the Rhine to the south of Strasbourg would have come up against 8 French divisions, 2 of which were fortress divisions, and 1 of which was in reserve.
More or less, yes. However, the crossing didn't, which is the point. Also, I just noticed in going through some stuff on the June withdrawal, on June 14, a French chronology notes, "the fortress divisions (103e, 104e and 105e DIF) guarding the Rhine as they receive the order to retreat, leaving only the team works and earthworks, to defend the valleys of the Vosges." So the German attack on 15 June may well have caught the French as they were moving or preparing for their move.
As for German 88s being annihilated by French artillery fire as soon as they were brought into position, Clayton Donnell notes that both sides exchanged fire across the river in the months leading up to Fall Gelb, so it is not as though the Germans were incapable of deploying direct fire forces on the east bank of the Rhine. In this ATL the Germans would have substantially more artillery deployed along the Rhine than the French in order to suppress French artillery and allow the 88s to go to work on the casemates, and then to lay down a smoke screen to allow German assault rafts to cross the Rhine. Obviously there would have been casualties, but it's plausible that the Germans could break through by deploying overwhelming force at key crossing points in a surprise attack against a numerically inferior foe.
Please don't put words into the conversation I never used. Yes, it is unlikely the German 8.8cm guns would be "annihilated". It is also unlikely the Germans would have taken the risk if the previous weeks "exchanges of fire" had not demonstrated the growing weakness of the French artillery response as units withdrew.
Yes, the Germans could concentrate artillery along that front...except the French had artillery they could concentrate to counter. The entire GC 2 is within 80 miles of the crossing point. The entire GCG reserve of 2 armored, 1 motorized infantry, and 11 infantry divisions is less than 150 miles away and its mechanized component then is roughly six to eight hours away.
Oh, BTW, another major problem for the Germans is getting all that concentration of forces there. Baden-Baden, Offenburg, and Freiburg have very limited east-to-west connections through the Schwarzwald now and even fewer then, while the main rail traffic was north-to-south along the Rhine valley. One mainline ran west-to-east to Freiburg and one to Offenburg and then a secondary line ran to Baden-Baden, but that was it...all other mainline traffic ran from Karslruhe south.
"Is all this pretentious pseudo intellectual citing of sources REALLY necessary? It gets in the way of a good, spirited debate, destroys the cadence." POD, 6 October 2018