What was the French Victory Plan in 1939-1940?

Discussions on all aspects of France during the Inter-War era and Second World War.
rcocean
Member
Posts: 301
Joined: 30 Mar 2008 00:48

What was the French Victory Plan in 1939-1940?

Post by rcocean » 27 Mar 2020 01:59

It seems every history focuses in on the French defeat in June 1940 but they rarely talk about how France was supposed to WIN the war against Hitler. So, what was the official French plan? What was the path to Victory?

When the French government declared war in September 1939, how did they expect to defeat Hitler? They didn't have the airplanes or troops necessary to march into Berlin (that took the USA and USSR), and the UK only put 10 divisions in France by May 1940. Does anyone have an official French source that discusses this?

Thanks in advance for any assistance.

Tomg44
Member
Posts: 140
Joined: 12 Dec 2008 11:10

Re: What was the French Victory Plan in 1939-1940?

Post by Tomg44 » 27 Mar 2020 07:14

Not exactly what you asked for, but an interesting starting point.
You will need to scroll down a bit to get to the chapter on France.
https://books.google.com.au/books?id=jv ... &q&f=false

Carl Schwamberger
Host - Allied sections
Posts: 7327
Joined: 02 Sep 2006 20:31
Location: USA

Re: What was the French Victory Plan in 1939-1940?

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 27 Mar 2020 14:56

There are a number of French language sources on this, but I can't point to any specific one. Posen touches on the French Grand strategic plan, tho I saw less detail than I've accumulated.

The Short version the French strategy was :

1. Blockade Germany as in the Great War & disrupt its economy. With British assistance & previous experience a effective blockade should be in place within a year. Economic studies suggested shortages of essential similar to the winter of 1917 would occur by the winter of 1941-42.

2. Complete the rearmament already started, & complete a a full year long training cycle for all ground and air combat units. This included British ground and air forces. The goal was to field a ground army decisively superior in fire power, able to substitute ammunition for lives. This goal was to enabled by a massive expansion of the Allied air forces. A larger air force was expected to add to overwhelming artillery firepower and out shoot the German forces with fire power.

3. As training & rearmament matured in 1941 limited offensives would start, and steadily escalate until the German army and nation collapsed sometime in 1942.

A few comments.
*1 The nazi Soviet pact made in August 1939 blindsided the Brits and French. They had previously been in low level negotiations for a alliance with the USSR. Anti Communists in both the British and French governments stalled the talks, and it was assumed the Soviet state would remain neutral and comply with a blockade. While the lack of full Soviet neutrality and its full trade with Germany did not negate the blockade it did make it more difficult. In some respects Germany would be better off in 1941 than the French calculated prewar.

*2 French armament & training in the 1930s were constrained by economic policy. The conservative French legislature was allergic to deficit spending. To avoid increasing taxes and expanding debt the army budget was cut substantially. This caused significant reduction in training during the 1930s. ie: initial conscript training was reduce to 18 months from the previous 24. Officer training was reduced proportionately. Refresher training for reservist was also cut substantially. In contrast the newly revived Wehrmacht increased conscript training to 30 months, & retained increasing numbers of reserve officers & NCOs on active service. This was 'paid' for with extensive borrowing, and fraudulent accounting. The result was a French ground force that required extensive post mobilization just to reach basic standards.

British aircraft production OTL outpaced German 1940-42. Since both the Brits and French overestimated German production capacity Its probable Allied aircraft production would significantly exceed the German. A unexpected bonus was the US roll back the Neutrality Acts, enabling a cash purchase policy for armaments. French and Britain imeandiately in October 1939 started investing large sums in the US aircraft industry. Some 1800 US made aircraft were scheduled for delivery in 1940. 3000+ were expected in 19401 & more order were in negotiation for that year. In April 1940 the French air force started a operation to stand down all its air groups with the obsolescent aircraft & replace with new French and US production during the remainder of 1940

Return to “France 1919-1945”