How could France have avoided defeat in WWII?

Discussions on all aspects of France during the Inter-War era and Second World War.
jony663
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Re: How could France have avoided defeat in WWII?

Post by jony663 » 01 Jul 2020 14:39

Is the answer more in how to best help the Netherlands. As it was until Rotterdam the Netherlands were fighting well above their abilities. Could the British or French of sent aid sooner. Could the RAF base out of Netherland's airfields?

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

Post by ljadw » 02 Jul 2020 06:38

France sent help on May 10,when Germany invaded the Netherlands.When the first French units arrived at the Breda region,the Germans were there already,as the distance from the German border to Breda was smaller than the distance the 7th Army had to cover . (175 to 90 km )And the French retreated already on May 12 ,the fortifications of the Albert canal were already lost on May 11 .
Britain had nothing to send .
The French intervention was decided already in 1936 .

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

Post by Dili » 02 Jul 2020 23:41

Seems France did not have any strategic reserve. Maybe with that they could have stifled the German advance.

Carl Schwamberger
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Re: How could France have avoided defeat in WWII?

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 03 Jul 2020 02:28

ljadw wrote:
02 Jul 2020 06:38
...

The French intervention was decided already in 1936 .
Its never over till the fat lady sings, but it was a bad year for strategic/political thinking.

Carl Schwamberger
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Re: How could France have avoided defeat in WWII?

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 03 Jul 2020 02:38

Dili wrote:
02 Jul 2020 23:41
Seems France did not have any strategic reserve. Maybe with that they could have stifled the German advance.
Yeah there was. Georges the commander of the NW Front, of three Army Groups, had at least sixteen divisions & several corps support groups in the 'Strategic Reserve' unassigned to specific armies. On the critical days to the 16th May exactly three of the 16, the 71st ID, 3d Motor ID, & 3d DCR, plus a corps group the 21st Corps were in action. The other thirteen were still in their reserve positions, or just receiving orders to move out to battle.

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

Post by ljadw » 03 Jul 2020 18:39

Carl Schwamberger wrote:
03 Jul 2020 02:28
ljadw wrote:
02 Jul 2020 06:38
...

The French intervention was decided already in 1936 .
Its never over till the fat lady sings, but it was a bad year for strategic/political thinking.
In 1936 ,after the remilitarisation of the Rhineland, the French government accepted the proposal from Gamelin to advance ,if possible ,to Breda in case of a German invasion of the Netherlands .
The reasons were political and military .That the advance failed,does not make the decision wrong .

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

Post by ljadw » 03 Jul 2020 18:46

Dili wrote:
02 Jul 2020 23:41
Seems France did not have any strategic reserve. Maybe with that they could have stifled the German advance.
The forces of Giraud were much too small to stifle the German advance, besides, they were much too slow : on May 12 only some armored cars were approaching Breda ,the tanks were still in Antwerp and they were still on the trains and had to be disembarked,distance Antwerp-Breda was more than 60 km .

Sid Guttridge
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Re: How could France have avoided defeat in WWII?

Post by Sid Guttridge » 04 Jul 2020 09:25

This discussion is missing the central point.

France had little over half the population of Germany and a lower birth rate. In the late 1930s two Germans were reaching conscript age for every Frenchman.

One way to avoid defeat was to largely disarm more populous Germany. This is what the Versailles Treaty did.

Once the Versailles Treaty had fallen, then other methods were needed to counter the difference in numbers. That is what the Maginot Line was intended to do. As it was never attacked when fully manned, we don't know how effective it might have been, but it was a rational response to German numerical superiority.

The next way of making up for the numbers disparity was to enlist allies. This France did with the UK. The problem with this was that at the time of the Munich Crisis in 1938 the British could only field two army divisions and the country required until 1941 to field a mass army.

Thus, in order to have a reasonable prospect of avoiding defeat, France had to hold the Germans for about a year and a half largely on its own before British numbers could begin to tell in the field.

The Manstein Ardennes plan both outflanked the Maginot Line and was launched a year before the British could field a mass army reasonably trained and equipped. It also used a method of warfare for which the French and British were unprepared.

Thus (1) the French needed an extended Maginot Line (which was planned for but the funds were diverted to the Italian border) and (2) a better armoured doctrine and more flexible command to be effective in counter-attack. This could have bought them time for the British build up to start to tell.

Once the Ardennes offensive was launched without the French having made the necessary preparations, France was probably doomed. No amount of operational or tactical cleverness was likely to be able to make up for wider, pre-war strategic mistakes because France clearly did not have a qualitative superiority on the field of battle.

Cheers,

Sid.

Carl Schwamberger
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Re: How could France have avoided defeat in WWII?

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 04 Jul 2020 17:07

ljadw wrote:
03 Jul 2020 18:39
Carl Schwamberger wrote:
03 Jul 2020 02:28
ljadw wrote:
02 Jul 2020 06:38
...

The French intervention was decided already in 1936 .
Its never over till the fat lady sings, but it was a bad year for strategic/political thinking.
In 1936 ,after the remilitarisation of the Rhineland, the French government accepted the proposal from Gamelin to advance ,if possible ,to Breda in case of a German invasion of the Netherlands .
The reasons were political and military .That the advance failed,does not make the decision wrong .
I was thinking of other less than optimal decisions of that time. Sending reinforcements to the Netherlands, the Breda maneuver makes perfect sense in the stratigic view. Blue arrows on the map & all that. Its difficult to offer decent alternatives. Still the effort failed & I'm unsure if the problem was execution, or the concept was obsolete, or maybe something else.

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

Post by Paul_Atreides » 04 Jul 2020 18:28

First of all, the French didn't have an offensive spirit. This is important for quick decisions and vigorous implementation. I think, they need commanders from the 1914.
There is no waste, there are reserves (Slogan of German Army in World Wars)

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

Post by ljadw » 04 Jul 2020 20:54

Paul_Atreides wrote:
04 Jul 2020 18:28
First of all, the French didn't have an offensive spirit. This is important for quick decisions and vigorous implementation. I think, they need commanders from the 1914.
In 1940 ,as in 1914, the French did not start an offensive ,it were the Germans who invaded France in 1914 and in 1940 .In both cases,the French were too weak to march to Berlin .
In 1940,their advance was limited to the Dyle/Scheldt line .

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

Post by ljadw » 04 Jul 2020 20:56

Carl Schwamberger wrote:
04 Jul 2020 17:07
ljadw wrote:
03 Jul 2020 18:39
Carl Schwamberger wrote:
03 Jul 2020 02:28
ljadw wrote:
02 Jul 2020 06:38
...

The French intervention was decided already in 1936 .
Its never over till the fat lady sings, but it was a bad year for strategic/political thinking.
In 1936 ,after the remilitarisation of the Rhineland, the French government accepted the proposal from Gamelin to advance ,if possible ,to Breda in case of a German invasion of the Netherlands .
The reasons were political and military .That the advance failed,does not make the decision wrong .
I was thinking of other less than optimal decisions of that time. Sending reinforcements to the Netherlands, the Breda maneuver makes perfect sense in the stratigic view. Blue arrows on the map & all that. Its difficult to offer decent alternatives. Still the effort failed & I'm unsure if the problem was execution, or the concept was obsolete, or maybe something else.
The effort failed ...because of the Germans who were already at Breda before the French .

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

Post by Paul_Atreides » 05 Jul 2020 08:20

ljadw wrote:
04 Jul 2020 20:54
Paul_Atreides wrote:
04 Jul 2020 18:28
First of all, the French didn't have an offensive spirit. This is important for quick decisions and vigorous implementation. I think, they need commanders from the 1914.
In 1940 ,as in 1914, the French did not start an offensive ,it were the Germans who invaded France in 1914 and in 1940 .In both cases,the French were too weak to march to Berlin .
In 1940,their advance was limited to the Dyle/Scheldt line .
You don't understand the point. The French in 1940 were too slow in both types of battle (offensive and defensive). General Joffre, after failing in the border battles, took a decisive maneuver to transfer gravity from the right flank to the left. This is what was not enough in 1940: the rapid concentration of troops against the Ardennes and active counterattacks.

P.S. I write only about what the French need do not lose too quickly.
There is no waste, there are reserves (Slogan of German Army in World Wars)

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

Post by ljadw » 05 Jul 2020 08:48

Paul_Atreides wrote:
05 Jul 2020 08:20
ljadw wrote:
04 Jul 2020 20:54
Paul_Atreides wrote:
04 Jul 2020 18:28
First of all, the French didn't have an offensive spirit. This is important for quick decisions and vigorous implementation. I think, they need commanders from the 1914.
In 1940 ,as in 1914, the French did not start an offensive ,it were the Germans who invaded France in 1914 and in 1940 .In both cases,the French were too weak to march to Berlin .
In 1940,their advance was limited to the Dyle/Scheldt line .
You don't understand the point. The French in 1940 were too slow in both types of battle (offensive and defensive). General Joffre, after failing in the border battles, took a decisive maneuver to transfer gravity from the right flank to the left. This is what was not enough in 1940: the rapid concentration of troops against the Ardennes and active counterattacks.

P.S. I write only about what the French need do not lose too quickly.
1 The French were weaker in 1940 than in 1914
2 One can also argue that the Germans failed in the border battles in 1914,as at the start of the Marne fighting, the French were not yet defeated .
3 In 1940 the French advanced to the Dyle/Scheldt line to shorten the front and to have the 22 Belgian divisions .The problem was that the Scheldt/Dyle line was not fortified and that the 22 Belgian divisions were too weak to stop the Germans til the French arrived .
4 In 1914 Joffre was able to send reinforcements to the center/later to the left,but that was not possible in 1940,because these reinforcements were lacking .
5 The Belgians had wasted their money on the fortifications of the Albert Canal,which could not stop the Germans and during the retreat to the Dyle/Scheldt,a big part of the Belgian army was lost .

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

Post by Paul_Atreides » 05 Jul 2020 18:15

ljadw wrote:
05 Jul 2020 08:48
1 The French were weaker in 1940 than in 1914
I don't think so. May be the Germans were stronger.
4 In 1914 Joffre was able to send reinforcements to the center/later to the left,but that was not possible in 1940,because these reinforcements were lacking .
Wow! There were 26 (twenty six) infantry divisions in the GA2. Half of them can be used as reinforcements.
There is no waste, there are reserves (Slogan of German Army in World Wars)

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