How could France have avoided defeat in WWII?

Discussions on all aspects of France during the Inter-War era and Second World War.
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Tim Smith
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How could France have avoided defeat in WWII?

Post by Tim Smith » 20 Nov 2003 15:09

What could the French have done differently to avoid being conquered in 1940? Interested to hear any ideas.

tonyh
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Post by tonyh » 20 Nov 2003 15:37

Ignoring British presure to go to war in the first place.

Tony

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Sam H.
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Post by Sam H. » 21 Nov 2003 20:38

Trained and organized their tank forces in such a way as to maximize their effectiveness. If France had armored divisions to counter the Panzer drive to the channel, defeat may have been avoided.

Kaan Caglar
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Post by Kaan Caglar » 21 Nov 2003 21:18

This question is like "How could Saddam stand against Coalition Forces" to me...
I thought about this question many times before and couldn't reach any answer,but may be they would stand against Germans for a couple of months maybe luckly a year but the result would be same.
Kaan

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Orok
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Post by Orok » 21 Nov 2003 21:36

_KaaN_ wrote:This question is like "How could Saddam stand against Coalition Forces" to me...
I thought about this question many times before and couldn't reach any answer,but may be they would stand against Germans for a couple of months maybe luckly a year but the result would be same.
Kaan


My dear friend KaaN, this is perhaps the first time I have to disagree with you! :lol:

I don't think the quality of French weaponry and general training at the point of German invasion was inferior to those of the Germans at the same degree as Iraqi weaponry and training was inferior to those of the Americans.

The French and German equipment, general training, preparedness of troops and number of troops were at the time in the same league. The reason of French defeat IMHO lies elsewhere! Namely the French strategic planning and tactical employment of troops. The misuse of armored formations was but only one of many mistakes, but magnified by the German's extremely successful application of their meagre and not so advanced (BTW mostly foreign made) little tanks! :lol:

Best Regards!

Kaan Caglar
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Post by Kaan Caglar » 21 Nov 2003 21:56

Dear Orok,
There had to be a time for us to disagree in somthing,it was like talking to myself :P :lol:
Anyway,you are right about the quality comparison between troops but my example was based on possibilty of winning,not equipment or the troops..
If we consider the facts such as industrial capacity of germany and the fast developement in war efforts,if the French strategic plannings were wiser and they had something more then those little tanks( :lol: ), they could only keep Germans out of Paris a couple more months... Don't forget Soviet Union couldn't stand the Blitzkrieg tactics in the earlier period of war.
The Germans were preparing for a war since 1933,as Hitler took power,but French were sleeping at the same time...
Warm Regards
Kaan

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Orok
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Post by Orok » 21 Nov 2003 22:00

Agree ooops talking to myself :o :lol:

Best Regards!

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Sam H.
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Post by Sam H. » 21 Nov 2003 22:02

Actually, most to the French tanks of the time were larger, better armed and armored than the Germans. The French tanks were inadequtely deployed (spread among the infantry divisions), the crews were not trained to the degree of the German crews, and the tanks were designed in such a way that the commander of the tanks were over worked (many french tanks had one man turrets - meaning the commander had to issue orders and fire the main gun at the same time).

In terms of numbers, the French had more tanks.

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Christoph Awender
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Post by Christoph Awender » 21 Nov 2003 22:11

Everytime the heavy french tanks appeared the german units had a hard time and problems to deal with them if no 8,8 or Stukas were available.

\Christoph

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Erik E
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Post by Erik E » 21 Nov 2003 22:30

I would also like to add that the French counted too much on their Maginot line. They thought that if Germany tried to go around, they would have enough time to organize their troops in the north.......

Erik

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Orok
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Post by Orok » 21 Nov 2003 22:38

And the totally inadequate use of aerial recon abilities ...

alsaco
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Re: How could France have avoided defeat in WWII?

Post by alsaco » 22 Nov 2003 00:09

Tim Smith wrote:What could the French have done differently to avoid being conquered in 1940? Interested to hear any ideas.


Have more childrens
Have less losses in 1914-1918
Consider the possibility of a new type of war,
Not rely on the "experience" of officers and generals acquired in the WW1

Consider using radio-transmission
Give more initiative possibilities to small units

Take Nazism seriously, and react in time
Read Mein Kampf
Remember "Si vis pacem, para bellum"

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LegalAssassin
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Post by LegalAssassin » 22 Nov 2003 13:35

Christoph Awender wrote:Everytime the heavy french tanks appeared the german units had a hard time and problems to deal with them if no 8,8 or Stukas were available.

\Christoph


Actually, the 88 mm guns wasn't used against tanks in 1940. The PAK 43/41 was later (1943 of course) and the FLAK 36 was used against tanks in Africa by Rommel when nothing else was available.

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Christoph Awender
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Post by Christoph Awender » 22 Nov 2003 17:16

LegalAssassin wrote:Actually, the 88 mm guns wasn't used against tanks in 1940. The PAK 43/41 was later (1943 of course) and the FLAK 36 was used against tanks in Africa by Rommel when nothing else was available.


Actually, Legal Assasin the 8,8cm gun was already used against tanks in the spanish civil war. It was heavily used against tanks in France 1940. I recommend to read some books about the battle of France.
If you like I can give you dozens of examples of 8,8 guns fighting against french and british tanks.
And obviously you don´t know that 1./Pz.Abw.Abt.8 was equipped with 10 self proppelled 8,8 guns on Sd.Kfz.8!
Here is a photo of such a vehicle of 1./Pz.Abw.Abt.8:

Image

\Christoph

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Daniel^1
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Post by Daniel^1 » 23 Nov 2003 12:01

How could anyone compare the French to the Iraqis?. The French were a world power, the Iraqis not. French had more tanks and these tanks were better armed and armoured then the german tanks, the Iraqis definately not, the French at least had an airforce and were supported by a major world airforce (the RAF), the Iraqi's definately not, Iraq was devestated by 8 years of war with Iran (1980's), 1 year of war with the world and 12 years of UN sanctions, the French were devestaed by the First World War but the world helped them recuperate, , the Iraqi's not and last but definately not least the French had very powerful friends that were prepared to intervene, the Iraqi's not.

No dishoner to the men who fought against Iraq but in my opinion it would compare to the German invasion of Denmark.

The French were considered to have the finest army in Europe, they devolped tactics learnt from the stale mate in World War 1 and they had fine weoponary. The German's on paper were very much lacking. they had fewer tanks, less men, tanks of less armour and weoponary and had to break through seemily inpenetrable defensive lines. The fact that all of western Europe was conquered in six weeks is an accomplishment so amazing I still am yet to hear of a more impressive victory.

I am yet to confim this but I read somewhere that the French army conducted exersises whereby a general was put in charge of a Germanarmy (theoretical of course) and was asked to attack France. He attacked through the Ardennes but was disqulified for 'cheating' because it was considered impossible for a modern army to get armoured vehicles through the thick forests.

What the French and Allies in General (particulary the Brit's) suffered from was a rigid command structure that allowed for no independant thinking. If the army wanted support from the airforce, they had to go through the whole chain of command to get it. In defensive situations a cohesive line could not be made in time and no counter attack could be made because of this rigid stucture. The German's on the other hand were far more flexiable and as a result far more easy to adapt to the changing face of the battle. A battle will rarely go as planed, and when it does it's an ambush. So by very definition there must be room for variation and indepednat thought in the achievement of the objective.

This is where the Battle of France comes in. If the French had a far more flexible command structure and control over all forces (including BEF) then I believe the end would have been very different. The slow response by the French was the real nail in the Coffin. After the Germans' were across the Somme it was all over for the French.

The whole of the German campaign relied on surprise and swiftness. To knock the enemy when he wasn't looking and move before he could recover. The French should never have been surprised. The fact that they were is really a huge embaresment to the French intelligence agency (whom also reported German tank strenght at 4700 machines, really about 3000 in all of Germany). The German concept of swiftness if captured at the right time would have been very east to defeat. The German's sent the majority of their forces along narrow 'armour' corridors. If these coriddors could have been cut, the German's would have been trapped. Slow French response prevented this from happening.

The French army was very equiped to defeat Germany they just lacked good generalship.

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