How could France have avoided defeat in WWII?

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

Post by ljadw » 05 Jul 2020 20:48

The ID of AG2 were what the Germans had in France in June 1944 : Fortress divisions who lacked mobility and who were only capable to protect /defend the fortifications and as the fortifications of the Dyle and Scheldt line were conspicuous by their absence .....Besides, there was no time to transport them to the north .
The weakness of the French in 1940 was qualitative and especial quantitative. The border with Belgium was north of Sedan undefended : there was no money for a Maginot line to Dunkirk ,and the border was also indefensible,as the French did not have the needed manpower to defend the border north of Sedan .(Present distance from Sedan to Dunkirk = 235 km .Of course it was higher in 1940 .)
The lack of manpower condemned the French to advance to the Dyle/Breda to shorten the front and to have ,if possible ,30 additional Belgian and Dutch divisions .The problem was that the fortifications of the Dyle line did not exist .
It was also impossible to put forward the 13 ID of AG2,thus they would be useless as they would remain at the border while the more mobile divisions were going to the Dyle .
The survival of France was depending on the possibility to stop the Germans in Belgium ,that's why the presence of these reinforcements on the border would not help France .

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

Post by ljadw » 06 Jul 2020 07:59

It took a week and 1000 trains to transport to the north the 7th army : 200000 men, 30000 horses,15000 vehicles and 120000 tons of supplies
Source : L'Armée Giraud en Hollande P 81.
The first echelons of the 7th army ,who were going by road,occupied 1400 km of road space.
Same source P 93 .
For the 1 DLM 340 km of roads were needed
P 93.
Thus I like to see how the French could move another 13 divisions to the north .
Between Sedan and Dunkirk the French had 22 divisions, the BEF 8 ;if they went to the north they could have 22 Belgian divisions and maybe 8 (10 ? ) Dutch divisions .Only 11 of the allied divisions were going by train,19 were going by road, mostly by foot . P 75 .
Otherwise they would have to defend 235 km with 30 divisions ( and most of the BEF arrived only in 1940 ) .

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

Post by Dili » 07 Jul 2020 09:26

Carl Schwamberger wrote:
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.
The point i am making, sorry to not be clear is that the strategic reserve should be an operational or operational armies made for mobility,
not just some Divisions in that your corps just go the shelves to bring on.

Btw i have a question, what is the size of German Army that effectively fought the French one?

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

Post by Paul_Atreides » 07 Jul 2020 17:19

ljadw wrote:
05 Jul 2020 20:48
The ID of AG2 were what the Germans had in France in June 1944 : Fortress divisions who lacked mobility and who were only capable to protect /defend the fortifications
Well-well-well, let see.

active - 2 (11, 42)
serie A - 14 (2, 6, 7, 8, 16, 20, 24, 26, 30, 31, 35, 44, 45, 47)
serie B - 6 (51, 52, 56, 58, 62, 70)
polish - 1 (1)
N. Afr. - 1 (6)
Colon. - 2 (4, 6)
Afric. - 2 (82, 87)

Only the serie B divisions (incl. 87 Afric.) can be considered with limited combat capability. Also there were 3e DLC and 1e brigade de spahis.
Besides, there was no time to transport them to the north .
To Ardennes? Two-three-four days.
The survival of France was depending on the possibility to stop the Germans in Belgium.
First of all - to stop the Panzer Gruppe Kleist. Or to cut it from the other German forces.

Also there is no need to send all DMLs to Belgium/Holland. They make up the mobile reserve for counterstrokes.
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 » 08 Jul 2020 17:03

Paul_Atreides wrote:
07 Jul 2020 17:19
ljadw wrote:
05 Jul 2020 20:48
The ID of AG2 were what the Germans had in France in June 1944 : Fortress divisions who lacked mobility and who were only capable to protect /defend the fortifications
Well-well-well, let see.

active - 2 (11, 42)
serie A - 14 (2, 6, 7, 8, 16, 20, 24, 26, 30, 31, 35, 44, 45, 47)
serie B - 6 (51, 52, 56, 58, 62, 70)
polish - 1 (1)
N. Afr. - 1 (6)
Colon. - 2 (4, 6)
Afric. - 2 (82, 87)

Only the serie B divisions (incl. 87 Afric.) can be considered with limited combat capability. Also there were 3e DLC and 1e brigade de spahis.
Besides, there was no time to transport them to the north .
To Ardennes? Two-three-four days.
The survival of France was depending on the possibility to stop the Germans in Belgium.
First of all - to stop the Panzer Gruppe Kleist. Or to cut it from the other German forces.

Also there is no need to send all DMLs to Belgium/Holland. They make up the mobile reserve for counterstrokes.
You are arguing with hindsight ,which is not good : the fact is that the French did not know what we know .
The DLM had not a function of mobile reserve for counterstrokes.
There was also no need ( in the prewar planning ) to move ID to the Ardennes and it is more than questionable that,if these divisions were west of the Meuse on May 12,they could have stopped the German advance : the Germans were advancing in France from the border with Luxembourg to Dinant .
It is also wrong to emphasize what happened at Sedan and to give the PzGr Kleist an importance it never had : the PzGr Kleist had 4 of the 10 German PzD.
About the ID of AG2 : the distinction between active and reserve divisions had disappeared in September 1939,during the mobilization : the so-called A divisions were not better than the B divisions .

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

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 09 Jul 2020 17:51

Dili wrote:
07 Jul 2020 09:26
Carl Schwamberger wrote:
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.
The point i am making, sorry to not be clear is that the strategic reserve should be an operational or operational armies made for mobility,
not just some Divisions in that your corps just go the shelves to bring on.
There were operational and tactical reserves from the Army Groups down to the corps and lower. Those were substantial. 10th Corps had two of its six infantry regiments and two tank battalions in reserve on 13 May. A large strategic reserve was formed because the senior French leaders could not predict with certainty the locations of the German attacks. Into mid May there was still a belief a secondary German attack would occur through Switzerland.

My point was the French had the ability to release the units of the strategic reserve in a timely manner but failed to do so. This left the army commanders trying to cope with the German main attack with their local operational reserves. That they were slow using their own reserves contributed to the failure. One of the things Mays notes in 'Strange Victory' is the German tests of their attack plans during the winter of 1939-1940 failed in the face of French counter attacks. At a 8th March war-game at Zossen the intelligence officer running the enemy forces argued the French would not deploy as fast as assumed in the previous exercises. For this map game he slowed the French reactions by 24 to 48 hours. The result was something approaching the actual events.

In the case of the 9th Army the reserves were actually turned around to march west. On the afternoon of the 14th Corap decided to move his entire army west 20+ kilometers to a new line and regroup there. His reserves which had previous been preparing for counter attacks on the 15th May were put into confusion reversing course. Most were caught on the roads by the enemy armored corps. The 1st DCR was caught refueling before they could fight, run, or anything else. Unsupported the units that had been fighting the German along the Meuse River were destroyed attempting a rearguard action for the 9th Armies retreat. The 1st & 2d DCR & infantry divisions Corap had uncommitted to the Meuse River battle were never used as intended.

Within the 2d Army the reserves of the 10th Corps were not committed until a day and a half after the river crossing of the 13th May. The 21st Corps of the 3rd DCR & 3rdDIM were ordered out of the Strategic Reserve on the 12th and arrived fairly quickly early morning of the 14th. Then the corps leaders failed to organized the attack with any speed, then the attack was canceled & the corps redeployed into the defense.

I could go on, but outside a few exceptions the French corps and army commanders, up to Georges, made a series of bad decisions concerning their reserves at all levels.
Btw i have a question, what is the size of German Army that effectively fought the French one?
Depends on what is meant by effective? There were approx twenty infantry and cavalry divisions in Poland screening the Red Army & sitting on the Poles. There were a handful in Denmark and Norway, tho some Germans in Norway were fighting French. There were another group of recently mobilized divisions reputedly unfit for combat. About twenty of those IIRC & most were deployed in Army Group C between Strasberg & Switzerland. During May of course a portion were fighting the Dutch & Belgians, but in June every corps that could be moved or supported was deployed for the second offense. Fighting the BEF & French from Louvain south to Longwy may have been 60 divisions, including nine of the ten armored divisions. And nine of the latter attacked French armies. While I have fairly accurate information for the French I'd have to dig for the exact German strength, A examination of the map in Post #87 provides the division deployment May 10-13. A hasty count shows 30 French infantry and armored divisions, plus four of the light cavalry divisions. At the start there were four Belgian divisions in the Ardennes, & a half dozen more facing east surround Liege & just to the north facing Maastricht, tho they had withdrawn by the end of the 12th May. So, close to 40 French and Belgian divisions plus whatever the BEF deployed forward.

After the 7th Armys mission became moot, a portion of it was redeployed to reinforce the 1st and 9th Armies adding another corps including a DLM to the mix.

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

Post by Dili » 10 Jul 2020 21:42

Many thanks for detailed answers Carl.

Regarding the question about strength, it was just to have a sense of if there was any numerical superiority in equipment and troops from German side. Germany had a sizable superiority in population, so trying to get if that was reflected in the battlefield.

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

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 12 Jul 2020 18:17

Dili wrote:
10 Jul 2020 21:42
Many thanks for detailed answers Carl.

Regarding the question about strength, it was just to have a sense of if there was any numerical superiority in equipment and troops from German side. Germany had a sizable superiority in population, so trying to get if that was reflected in the battlefield.
I can dig up some numbers. In a approximate way the Germans & four opposing armies had parity in 'divisions'. In other respects there were larger differences.

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