German attack across the Rhine in May 1940

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Loïc
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Re: German attack across the Rhine in May 1940

Post by Loïc » 11 Nov 2019 22:46

France had 117 divisions total, with 106 deployed for operations against Germany.
the French Army didn't have 117 Divisions too, your source as many authors seems to count some Fortified Sectors more as "Divisions"

the French Army had 95 Divisions + 2 Polish Army of which 5 Divisions in southeastern France facing Italy, 3 light mountain in Britanny Scotland Norway
North Africa Levant 14 Divisions
Grand Total 109 French + 2 Polish Divisions

Richard Anderson
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Re: German attack across the Rhine in May 1940

Post by Richard Anderson » 11 Nov 2019 22:51

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. :D 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

HistoryGeek2019
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Re: German attack across the Rhine in May 1940

Post by HistoryGeek2019 » 11 Nov 2019 23:23

Unlike the other fortified sectors, SF Altkirch did not consist of casemates built directly on the Rhine. Its artillery casemates and blockhouses were built in the interior, in the far southeast corner along the French/Swiss/German border. The southernmost casemate on the banks of the Rhine was just south of Kembs and was part of SF Mulhouse (105 DI).

The exchanges of fire across the Rhine took place in the months before Fall Gelb, so the withdraw of French field units during the campaign had nothing to do with it.

You are right that the lack of German infrastructure on their side of the Rhine would have presented a major obstacle in this ATL. The Germans would have needed to plan and build up their forces in this sector months, maybe years, in advance. It's not something they could have come up with at the last minute, like Sickle Stroke.
Last edited by HistoryGeek2019 on 12 Nov 2019 01:18, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: German attack across the Rhine in May 1940

Post by Richard Anderson » 11 Nov 2019 23:47

HistoryGeek2019 wrote:
11 Nov 2019 23:23
Unlike the other fortified sectors, SF Altkirch did not consist of casemates built directly on the Rhine. Its artillery casemates and blockhouses were built in the interior, in the far southeast corner along the French/Swiss/German border. The southernmost casemate on the banks of the Rhine was just south of Kembs and was part of SF Milhouse (105 DI).
Yep, but Mulhouse, Milhouse was our disgraced resigned President. :lol:
The exchanges of fire across the Rhine took place in the months before Fall Gelb, so the withdraw of French field units during the campaign had nothing to do with it.
I suspect there was some Arty-R between the end of the French "demonstration" in September and October 1939 and May 1940, but I'm not going to dig. In essence, you seem to believe the Germans will happily drive up to the far bank of the Rhine and go action-front with their 88s...and the French will have no good response? Even though their artillery strength will be substantially greater than it was on 15 June 1940?

VII CA had the motorized 107e Régiment d'Artillerie Lourde Tractée (107e RALT) with two battalions of 105mm M1936 guns and one battalion of 155mm GPF. XIII CA had the horse-drawn 116e Régiment d'Artillerie Lourde Hippomobile (116e RALH) with two battalions each of 105mm M1913 and 155mm M1917 pieces. XII CA to the north had the 112e RALH with the same armament, while XVII AC, also of 5e Arme, had the 117e RALH.

Which is just about the same support the German corps in HG-A had for Fall Gelb, but as far as I can find, not the corps in HG-C.
You are right that the lack of German infrastructure on their side of the Rhine would have presented a major obstacle in this ATL. The Germans would have needed to plan and build up their forces in this sector months, maybe years, in advance. It's not something they could have come up with at the last minute, like Sickle Stroke.
Probably so.
"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

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Re: German attack across the Rhine in May 1940

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 12 Nov 2019 01:29

Richard Anderson wrote:Why do I need to give an "English language source" or a "page shot"?
If Rick provided screen shots of his sources it would be possible to make your own interpretation, rather than relying on his. It would also deprive him of his sole basis for smugness on these issues - decades of reading, at least some of which without having to worry about another day job. Why share knowledge for free when having it is your only currency?

Re the infrastructure on the German side for this kind of attack, the Germans could have dealt with that over the winter if were this adjudged the necessary path to victory. Prior to Barbarossa they added the equivalent of 3,000miles of railroad track to the Polish network in order to support the biggest invasion ever. Prior to this battle, they'd need to add a few hundred miles of track from the heavily-networked industrial areas east and north of the Rhine frontier.

The other problem with this plan is that Colmar and Mulhouse are gems of European architectural history who survived the world wars largely intact. Sad to see them become battlefields.

HistoryGeek2019
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Re: German attack across the Rhine in May 1940

Post by HistoryGeek2019 » 12 Nov 2019 01:54

TheMarcksPlan wrote:
12 Nov 2019 01:29

The other problem with this plan is that Colmar and Mulhouse are gems of European architectural history who survived the world wars largely intact. Sad to see them become battlefields.
All the more reason for the French to roll over and let the Germans take the country without a fight. :lol:

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Re: German attack across the Rhine in May 1940

Post by Gooner1 » 12 Nov 2019 12:30

Excellent maps on ATF40 http://www.atf40.fr/ATF40/

The Rhine was one of the less well defended parts of the frontier

Image

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Re: German attack across the Rhine in May 1940

Post by HistoryGeek2019 » 12 Nov 2019 18:01

Gooner1 wrote:
12 Nov 2019 12:30
Excellent maps on ATF40 http://www.atf40.fr/ATF40/

The Rhine was one of the less well defended parts of the frontier

Image
Thank you for this. The French relied on terrain extensively for defense. In the Ardennes, and even moreso in Alsace.

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Re: German attack across the Rhine in May 1940

Post by Aida1 » 17 Nov 2019 16:40

TheMarcksPlan wrote:
11 Nov 2019 07:01
Ok I'm just gonna provide the first couple posts from my "Future Internet" algroithm:
Aida1 wrote:It is written in the Book of Manstein (peace be upon him) that the attack goes through the Ardennes. Who are we to question His wisdom? What holy mark of prophecy dost thou bare to shake my faith in Him?
Jesk wrote:I hope you mean "across the Rhine towards Moscow." That guarantees victory in everything.
Richard Anderson wrote:I have spent the last 19 hours pouring over the reports of the School Crossing Guard for Koblenz, Germany, whose records report that little Gunther scraped his knee on the way to school and Hilda fought with Greta. THERE IS NO MENTION OF GERMAN PANZER MOVEMENTS IN THIS SECTOR BY THE KOBLENZ CROSSING GUARD OR ANY OTHER. Therefore, how can you prove that the Germans could have moved troops in the direction you suggest?
MarkN wrote:I want to emphasize that I agree with everything Richard Anderson said and add something even less relevant, once I think of it.
I do not have to feel guilty about quoting Manstein. He is a good authority given his military reputation.

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Re: German attack across the Rhine in May 1940

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 18 Nov 2019 06:48

Gooner1 wrote:
12 Nov 2019 12:30
Excellent maps on ATF40 http://www.atf40.fr/ATF40/

The Rhine was one of the less well defended parts of the frontier

Image
Certainly so in that static description. Tho one is distracted by the dynamic were all those reserves a bit to the west become involved.

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Re: German attack across the Rhine in May 1940

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 12 Dec 2019 01:17

Aida1 wrote:I do not have to feel guilty about quoting Manstein. He is a good authority given his military reputation.
I don't care who it is, no matter how brilliant - you should always feel guilty about uncritically accepting someone else's thoughts.

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Re: German attack across the Rhine in May 1940

Post by Aida1 » 14 Dec 2019 17:53

TheMarcksPlan wrote:
12 Dec 2019 01:17
Aida1 wrote:I do not have to feel guilty about quoting Manstein. He is a good authority given his military reputation.
I don't care who it is, no matter how brilliant - you should always feel guilty about uncritically accepting someone else's thoughts.
His opinion will always weigh heavier than that of a non professional with no experience which is what you are. I would be very prudent before i would disagree with Manstein on operational matters. Reading books and real military experience on a high level cannot compare.

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Re: German attack across the Rhine in May 1940

Post by TheMarcksPlan » 16 Dec 2019 10:36

Aida1 wrote:
14 Dec 2019 17:53
TheMarcksPlan wrote:
12 Dec 2019 01:17
Aida1 wrote:I do not have to feel guilty about quoting Manstein. He is a good authority given his military reputation.
I don't care who it is, no matter how brilliant - you should always feel guilty about uncritically accepting someone else's thoughts.
His opinion will always weigh heavier than that of a non professional with no experience which is what you are. I would be very prudent before i would disagree with Manstein on operational matters. Reading books and real military experience on a high level cannot compare.
Replace Manstein with Gamelin in your last post and nothing on your terms changes. Gamelin was a professional with probably more experience of high command than Manstein.

Yet you and I know very well that only a brain dead person would refuse to question Gamelin's operational decisions.

Your mind is free, use it.

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Re: German attack across the Rhine in May 1940

Post by Aida1 » 17 Dec 2019 11:42

TheMarcksPlan wrote:
16 Dec 2019 10:36
Aida1 wrote:
14 Dec 2019 17:53
TheMarcksPlan wrote:
12 Dec 2019 01:17
Aida1 wrote:I do not have to feel guilty about quoting Manstein. He is a good authority given his military reputation.
I don't care who it is, no matter how brilliant - you should always feel guilty about uncritically accepting someone else's thoughts.
His opinion will always weigh heavier than that of a non professional with no experience which is what you are. I would be very prudent before i would disagree with Manstein on operational matters. Reading books and real military experience on a high level cannot compare.
Replace Manstein with Gamelin in your last post and nothing on your terms changes. Gamelin was a professional with probably more experience of high command than Manstein.

Yet you and I know very well that only a brain dead person would refuse to question Gamelin's operational decisions.

Your mind is free, use it.
There is a big difference between Gamelin and Manstein and Manstein is certainly a greater authority on operational matters than him. So i will continue to use Manstein as a source .

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