How could France have avoided defeat in WWII?

Discussions on all aspects of France during the Inter-War era and Second World War.
takata_1940
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Re: How could France have avoided defeat in WWII?

Post by takata_1940 » 30 Jan 2010 15:55

Carl Schwamberger wrote: ... the B class units were not mobilized imeadiatly, but late in the autum and winter.
I forgot to answer that in my previous post.

Sorry Carl, but the B class divisions were mobilized immediately:
The mobilization plan started on 21 August 1939 and ended on 21 September 1939. All the divisions raised later were not called "Active, Série A or Série B" (neither were the overseas divisions deployed in France), but "division de formation" (new divisions) made of any manpower available (including active and réserve).

Moreover, none of the so-called "Active" divisions was fully combat ready until the late stage of the plan as they were broken and their manpower divided between the "Série A" divisions (making all "Active" and "Série A" divisions at about the same level). As the Série B divisions were not supposed to get some of the "active" manpower (less than 1%) nor any modern weapons, they were used first for second line duty (security), where they were also supposed to be retrained before being sent to the line. Few actually were and some served immediately.

Here is some details about the plan:

The "Mobilisation-Concentration" Plan was fully completed on 21.09.39 and the Field Army reached about 2,600,000 men where 1,000,000 were part of the "couverture" plus another 600,000 allocated to the "réserve de couverture". All the men involved in the "couverture" were mobilised before the 27.08.39.

As the active Army had reached 865,000 men at the end of July 1939 and 848,000 more men were recalled before the 27 August 1939, the total at this date would have been 1,713,000 including 1,600,000 involved at border covering and 110,000 employed for the organisation of the following mobilisations and concentrations. (One should remember that many vehicles and horses of the Army had to be requisitioned first from the civilians).

a) "Couverture mission": 27.08 -> 07.09:
............................15 Army Corps + 36 DIs, 2 DLMs, 3 DCs (41 div.);
b) "Concentration 1": 07.09 -> 12.09:
............................14 Army Corps + 22 DIs;
c) "Concentration 2": 12.09 -> 16.09:
............................20 DIs;
d) "Concentration 3": 16.09 -> 21.09:
.............................3 Army Corps + 3 DIs

The total Force mobilised on 21.09.39 consisted of:
....................... 2 Army Groups, 8 Armies, 22 Army Corps,
.......................81 DIs, 2 DLMs, 3 DCs (+ 15 fort. equ. div.)
divided between:

Nord-Est & Jura:
.....19 Army Corps,
.....56 div. (28 Active, 19 Série A, 9 Série B)
. 7 DI Motorisées (act)
. 10 DI (act)
. 3 DI Coloniales (act)
. 3 DI N-Africaines (act)
. 15 DI (A)
. 3 DI Coloniales (A)
. 1 DI N-Africaines (A)
. 9 DI (B)
. 2 DLM (act)
. 3 DC (act)
. 1 Cavalry Brigade (act)

Sud-Est (Alps):
...... 3 Army Corps,
...... 9 div. (5 Active, 2 Série A, 2 Série B)
. 3 DI (act)
. 1 DI Coloniale (act)
. 1 DI N-Africaine (act)
. 2 DI (A)
. 2 DI (B)
. 1 Cavalry Brigade (act)

Intérieur Army: 7 div. (Série B)
. 7 DI (B)

AFN & Levant:
.......6 HQs
......14 div. (4 Active, 6 mobile, 4 static)
. 3 DIA (act)
. 1 DM (act)
. 5 DIA (mobile)
. 1 DM (mobile)
. 3 DIA (static)
. 1 DM (static)
. 2 Mixed Brigades (act - Levant)
. 5 Cavalry Brigades (act)

Amongst the "Réserve Générale" some of the elements mobilised were:
- 2 Army Group HQs (1e & 2e);
- 8 Army HQs (Ie-VIIIe);
- 2 Army Reduced HQs (Ardennes, Pyrénées);
- 2 Réserve Army Corps (F & G);

- 4 Commandements de Régions Fortifiées:
.. Belfort (A)
.. Lauter (act)
.. Metz (A)
.. Sarre (A)

- 17 Secteurs Fortifiés:
.. Alpes-Mar. (A)
.. Bas-Rhin (act)
.. Boulay (A)
.. Colmar (act)
.. Crusnes (A)
.. Dauphiné (A)
.. Escaut (A)
.. Faulquemont (A)
.. Haguenau (act)
.. Jura (act)
.. Maubeuge (A)
.. Montmédy (A)
.. Mulhouse (act)
.. Rohrbach (act)
.. Savoie (A)
.. Thionville (A)
.. Vosges (act)

- 10 Secteurs Défensifs:
.. Adour (B)
.. Altkirch (act)
.. Aude (B)
.. Belfort (A)
.. Flandres (A)
.. Garonne (B)
.. Lille (A)
.. Montbéliard (act)
.. Rhône (A)
.. Sarre (A)

- 5 Commandements de Réserve Générale
....Chars, Artillerie, Génie, Train, Intendance;

- 20 Commandements de Groupes de Bataillons de Chars;
- 48 Bataillons de chars;
- 8 Compagnies de Transport de Chars;
- 19 Bataillons de Mitrailleurs;
- 78 Bataillons d'Infanterie (disponibles);
- 5 Régiments d'Infanterie (1 RI + 4 DBIL);
- 3 Demi-Brigades de Mitrailleurs Coloniaux;
- 20 États-Majors de Groupe d'Unités d'Instruction;
- 2 Brigades Mixtes (au Levant);
- 7 Brigades de Cavalerie;
- 4 Régiments de Dragons Portés;
- 56 Régiments d'Artillerie;
- 101 Batteries d'Artillerie de Position (static);
- 78 Batteries d'Artillerie de Forteresse (mobile);
- 12 Groupes d'Instruction d'Artillerie (73 Batteries);
- 10 Groupes Automobile de Transport (légers - 40 Compagnies);
- 11 Groupes Automobile de Transport (lourds - 44 Compagnies);
- 27 Groupes Automobile de Transport de Personnel (108 Compagnies);
- 12 Compagnies Auto-routières;
- 15 Compagnies Auto-sanitaires;
- 32 Compagnies Hippomobiles;
- 27 Compagnies de Muletiers;
- 8 Bataillons de Sapeurs-Mineurs;
- 3 Compagnies d'Électro-Mécaniciens;
- 9 Sections d'Électriciens de Campagne;
- 7 Bataillons de Cantonniers;
- 22 Équipages de Ponts;
- 8 Compagnies de Camps et Cantonnements;
- 8 Compagnies du Service des eaux;
- 8 Compagnies de Monteurs de Baraques;
- 2 Compagnies de Téléphériques;
- 10 Compagnies de Sapeurs-Forestiers;
- 7 Compagnies de Sapeurs-Pontonniers;
- 17 Unités de Ponts Lourds;
- 9 Compagnies de Navigation;
- 16 Bataillons de Sapeurs de Chemin-de-fer;
- 33 Groupes de Transmissions;
- 14 Boulangeries de Campagne;
- 60 Compagnies de C.O.A.;
- 19 Ambulances Médicales;
- 11 Ambulances Chirurgicales Légères;
- 20 Ambulances Chirurgicales Lourdes;
- 30 Groupes Chirurgicaux Mobiles;
- 81 Équipes Chirurgicales;
- 32 Sections d'Hygiène, Lavage et Désinfection;
- 23 Hôpitaux d'Évacuation Primaires;
- 7 Hôpitaux d'Évacuation Secondaires;
- 28 Compagnies d'Infirmiers;
- 300 Trains Sanitaires;
- 84 Locomotives Sanitaires;
- 19 Groupes de DCA (Army) - 75 auto-cannons;
- 9 Groupes de DCA (Army) - 75 sur remorque;
- 3 Groupes de Projecteurs (Army);
- Sections de 20 mm DCA (300 guns - Army);
- 325 Batteries de DCA (Interior) - 75, 90 & 105 mm;
- 14.5 Groupes de Projecteurs (Interior);
- 24 Sections de Ballons (Interior);
- 5 Batteries de 40 mm DCA (Paris);
- 5 Batteries de 25 mm DCA (Paris);
- 269 Sections de 13.2 mm DCA (Interior);
_______________________________________________

The Mobilzation planning

The French Mobilisation Plan was somewhat complicated. It followed a pre-established schedule (revised continuously) of numbered moblisation orders. This plan included many "variantes" related to the international political situation with various theaters of operation and border covering setups. Moreover, the mobilised men were recalled by different means depending of their status: the cadres (reserve officers and NCOs) recieved nominal orders as well as the reservists belonging to the "available" classes, those affected to the border defence, the active divisions services, the mobilisation HQs, transports, requisitions and security troops, etc. As a matter of fact, it tooks many reservists in order to fully activate a single "active division", with its belonging Army Corps, as both were deprived of any services during peacetime and the distribution centers of equipment and transport would have to be activated first. If the mobilisation schedule was to be fully completed, any "active division" would have to share its manpower with some "Série A divisions" and would need even more reservists to reach its full strength level.

The Plan was divided between five successive phases called:
1. Alerte,
2. Sûreté,
3. Couverture,
4. Mobilisation,
5. Concentration.

The mobilisation was preceded by 3 stages and it would takes about 3 weeks after
the mobilisation-day in order to concentrate the last Army divisions. The time
was used for troop assembly, equipment and movement. All the troops movements
were staged in order to protect the civilian traffic from being stopped during
the concentration phases and many trains boarded with troops spent a very long
period parked on secondary lines, waiting for a slot in the traffic flow.


The timeline of the pre-mobilisation measures was the following:

21-08-39:
- Case Nr.29: Reduced DAT (Anti Air Defense) Plan: Métropole;[1]
- Case Nr.825: Reduced DAT Plan: AFN (North-Africa);[1]

22-08-39:
- Case Nr.21: "Alerte Nord-Est" Plan [2];
- Case Nr.22: "Alerte Sud-Est" Plan [2]; (variant A1= Italy hostile)[5]
- Case Nr.901: "Alerte Tunisie" Plan [2];

23-08-39:
- Case Nr.41: "Sûreté" (Safety) Nord-Est Plan; first day 25-08-39;[3]
- Case Nr.42: "Sûreté" Sud-Est Plan; first day 25-08-39;[3]
- Case Nr.54: Complete DAT Plan Métropole;
- Case Nr.854: Complete DAT Plan AFN;

24-08-39:
- Case Nr.86: Setup 1 "Réserve de Couverture" Plan; first day 25-08-39;[4]
- Case Nr.902: "Alerte" Tunisie Plan; first day 26-08-39;

26-08-39:
- Case Nr.81 & 82: "Couverture Générale" Plan; first day 27-08-39;
- Case Nr.86: Setup XVe Military Region elements for Corsica defence; first day
27-08-39;
- Case Nr.86: Setup 2 "Réserve de Couverture" Plan; first day 28-08-39;[4]

27-08-39:
- Case Nr.902: "Sûreté" Tunisie Plan (set up); (first day to be fixed);

31-08-39:
- Case Nr.903: "Sûreté" Tunisie Plan (start up); (first day to be fixed);

01-09-39:
- Mobilisation "Générale" is decreted; fist day 02-09-39 at 00h00;
____________________________
[1] Anti-Air equipment/manpower is mobilised in order for the complete Anti-Air
Defence Plan to be implemented later;
[2] mobilisation of all active divisions (moving by road) involved in border
covering mission ("Couverture Générale");
[3] mobilisation of all active divisions (moving by rail) and all fortified
sectors for "Couverture Générale";
[4] mobilisation of active divisions acting as "Réserve de Couverture";
[5] Without a clear Italian position, Italy would be considered hostile.
____________________________

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

Post by phylo_roadking » 30 Jan 2010 17:06

This would need the full cooperation of a fully re-vamped Belgian army. Ideally this should have been done at time of German re-occupation of the Rhineland in March 1936, and at latest at the time of the seizure of the Sudetenland in September 1938, with the help of Belgium and Great Britain
There was going to be NO Belgian allied army; the reason for Belgium leaving the Locarno Pact and declaring itself Neutral were both finanical and political and strictly limited to Belgium itself. There's nothing the French could do about any of that - except perhaps PAY the Belgians the money needed for the originally-planned Belgian military expansion of 1935! :lol: 1938 was way before the covert military rapprochement between Belgium and her once-allies.
... besides the Soviet air force was likely to come to their aid
From Hooton -
Prague had a mutual assistance pact with Moscow, but even if London and PAris had desired Soviet support, the VVS-RKKA was becoming an increasingly slender reed. The Purges were wiping out its leaders and former leaders, inlcuding Alksnis and Rosengol'ts, while even designers such as Tupolev were not immune. The airmen were largely reduced to the tactical role after the disbandment of the AON.
1938 is exactly the wrong time to be relying on Soviet help in the air. It might arrive - but in time and not hamstrung by shortages, untrained/inexperienced officers etc.? :wink:

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Re: How could France have avoided defeat in WWII?

Post by SASH155 » 30 Jan 2010 18:45

Like I said, everyone, please bear in mind that my list of what needed to happen pre-supposed some extremely ideal conditions, was done off the top of my head without resort to sources, just from my extensive readings on the subject. I am aware of the necessity for France to have changed the fundamental doctrines in its strategy, that the industrial base was not up to the necessary standards, given that the last major re-toolings had taken place last during the First World War and into the early 20's, that social and political conditions conditions militated against many of the reforms in training and doctrine which were desperately needed, such as the need for more and better NCO's amongst many, many other things. I am aware of the relative advantage France enjoyed vis à vis Germany as regards the motorization of her army, I just was saying she idealy needed to do even more (although as was pointed out, this would not have been a panacea). I did emphasize repeatedly throughout the need for more self contained highly mobile armored units, a condition which was only beginning to come into focus between 1936 and 1938. As to communications technology, I am less well versed in the relative development of radios at the end of the 1930s, however, better doctrine and emphasis on real time communications, within the parameters of the state of the art would have been helpful. I am also aware of Belgium's abandonment of her alliance with France and Great Britain; the screed pre-supposes the ideal condition of this not having happened. The list is really just a collection of might have beens, things that might have changed the outcome had they been possible (of which many were unlikely or impossible) at that time. Perhaps I will elaborate and refine the list as time goes on, but those were ideas that came to mind at the time. What prevailed in fact in France during the years leading up to 1940 was obviously far off from what I outlined above.

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

Post by phylo_roadking » 30 Jan 2010 19:10

I am also aware of Belgium's abandonment of her alliance with France and Great Britain; the screed pre-supposes the ideal condition of this not having happened. The list is really just a collection of might have beens,
The point of the Belgian issue is it's totally out of France's control to influence one way or another. It's a totally separate point-of-departure from the historical that Paris cannot change/influence/prevent/cause.

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Re: How could France have avoided defeat in WWII?

Post by Rifleman 2113 » 31 Jan 2010 17:45

I have read with interest all the submissions on the subject and on the whole although admirable and I cannot disagree that on the whole you are all right in your own way. However I think you miss the proper reasons why the French, British, Poles and Czechs’ were defeated and Germany reigned supreme in Europe.

The Allies and no heart for war, after WW1 the ordinary man in the street, in Britain and France, who thought that they had won the war. Where promised ‘a land fit for heroes’ were led into abject poverty, usury and their pride at winning thewar turned to humiliation in the peace after wards. Leading to a position that many working class people did not think that their countries worth fighting for. But it was not just the working class with these pacifist feelings the students at Oxford University Union passed a motion in 1933 stating; ‘That this House will in no circumstances fight for its King and Country’ A position not reversed until the promise of a welfare state in 1942 and with it the promise of the end of poverty, mass unemployment and a universal health service. Hitler had been brought to power by the resentment of the Allied reparations and the false claim by the German Army that they had been defeated at home and not in the field. Hitler brought Germany out of the slump after world war one and created his welfare state by simply printing money and preparing for war

Politically the ‘Right’ in both Britain and France were more frightened of Stalin’s Communist Russia than they were of Hitler, France had an endless struggle between left and right with unstable governments and the whisper of civil war (an echo of Franco’s solution to a similar problem in Spain). Many of the old right wing establishment believed that a touch of German discipline would put things right.

Towards the end of WW1 the French Army was suffering from a collective form of PTSD, manifested in the mutinies of 1917 and the refusal to attack.. In 1939 the junior officer and Privates of 1917 were senior officers and NCOs in the French Army and had no reason to believe that WW2 would be different to WW1. Thus a reluctance to attack or take risks of any kind.

Why did France and Britain go to war in such circumstances? In their Book ;Friendly Fire’ Lynn Picknett, Clive Prince and Stephen Prior claim that Roosevelt promised the Poles, British and French if they stood up to Hitler the USA would immediately join the war. This US involvement was to a certain extent, by the capture by the Germans in Polish archives, the transcripts of all the documents relevant to the issue,. bound into the now notorious ‘Black Book’. His Secretary for Treasury Morgenthau had the idea that a war in Europe would solve America’s economic problems providing the US did not get involved in the fighting, The plan worked the USA was the only main belligerent who made a financial profit out of the conflict. Morganthau later ensured the war would last longer when he suggested the ‘Unconditional Surrender Policy’ and the strategy of returning Germany to an agrarian economy by dismantling its manufacturing capabilities.

France had been in political turmoil that caused many Frenchmen on the 'right' but also many blue collar conservatives to admire Hitler. The Germans used a very light hand on the French and in return recieved almost maximum cooperation fro French Industry. More Frenchmen fought for the Germans in the German Army, in fact the last SS unit to surrender in Berlin in 1945 was 33. Waffen-Grenadier-Division der SS "Charlemagne" Defending Hitlers Bunker.

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Re: How could France have avoided defeat in WWII?

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 01 Feb 2010 06:44

Takata...thanks for the information.

"Well Carl, I don't know what you are calling: "R" or fist class reserve units..."

"R" is commonly used in the various English language books on my shelf. I cant recall any that use the term active' for that class of units. Earlier this year I questioned Louis Capdeboscq who frequently helps me with the details of the French military about the proper designations. he told me to use the R, A, and B designations. I guess you French will have to work out that one, let me know what you agree on :)

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Re: How could France have avoided defeat in WWII?

Post by takata_1940 » 01 Feb 2010 17:54

Hi Carl,
Carl Schwamberger wrote: "R" is commonly used in the various English language books on my shelf. I cant recall any that use the term active' for that class of units. Earlier this year I questioned Louis Capdeboscq who frequently helps me with the details of the French military about the proper designations. he told me to use the R, A, and B designations. I guess you French will have to work out that one, let me know what you agree on :)
Ok..., if it comes from Louis C., I'm ready to believe that it comes from some kind of misunderstanding: "R" may only mean "Reserve", which is pretty vague and could mean everything not actually from the "Active" Army. All the sources I'm aware of (including Louis C.) are using the terms "active", "série A" and "série B" for the division mobilized. Some are adding "série C", but this is not a term officialy used concerning the mobilisation which instead use the term "Territorial army". The terms "first reserve" and "second reserve" are also part of the Law of 1927 but are pointing on the citizen concerning his military recall after his "active service period" (as I already explained above).

S~
Olivier

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Re: How could France have avoided defeat in WWII?

Post by Ascan » 02 Feb 2010 00:38

The answer of Alsaco is right.
It was not possible to win anyway. 3 Years befor the war you have had...national worker striker.
Better officer and to use the power of the navy who was one of the most powerful and played no rule. Ok the german have had U boote but the french also.

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Re: How could France have avoided defeat in WWII?

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 03 Feb 2010 03:43

takata_1940 wrote:Hi Carl,
Carl Schwamberger wrote: "R" is commonly used in the various English language books on my shelf. I cant recall any that use the term active' for that class of units. Earlier this year I questioned Louis Capdeboscq who frequently helps me with the details of the French military about the proper designations. he told me to use the R, A, and B designations. I guess you French will have to work out that one, let me know what you agree on :)
Ok..., if it comes from Louis C., I'm ready to believe that it comes from some kind of misunderstanding: "R" may only mean "Reserve", which is pretty vague and could mean everything not actually from the "Active" Army. All the sources I'm aware of (including Louis C.) are using the terms "active", "série A" and "série B" for the division mobilized. Some are adding "série C", but this is not a term officialy used concerning the mobilisation which instead use the term "Territorial army". The terms "first reserve" and "second reserve" are also part of the Law of 1927 but are pointing on the citizen concerning his military recall after his "active service period" (as I already explained above).

S~
Olivier
This is enlightening, but does not get to the bottom of why the miscl histories on my shelf commonly use "R" as the label for these. This usage goes back to the 1960s at least. Maybe I can find the year old message Louis sought to advise me with.

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Re: How could France have avoided defeat in WWII?

Post by takata_1940 » 03 Feb 2010 23:06

Carl Schwamberger wrote: This is enlightening, but does not get to the bottom of why the miscl histories on my shelf commonly use "R" as the label for these. This usage goes back to the 1960s at least. Maybe I can find the year old message Louis sought to advise me with.
Well Carl, I can't tell you anything about why the "miscl histories" on your shelf are misleading until you'll be able to provide some kind of quotation with context in order to understand what they meant by this label. Same about Louis' old post...
So far, I still don't know what you were talking about (manpower, divisions?..) as you mixed both.

As far as English sources are concerned, you may try, beside many others, Lee Sharp's, The French Army 1939-1940, Organisation, Order of Battle, Operational History, Military Press (seven or eight volumes so far), Or, for more concise explanations, Eugenia C. Kiesling, Arming against Hitler, France and the limits of military planning, University Press of Kansas, 1996:
Page 85 "The Unready Reserve":
Behind General von Seekt's disparaging reference to the French "militia" lies the crucial fact that the French Army's strength lay in its vast reserve organization. Even the so-called active units filled almost half of their wartime slots with reservists. The type A divisions of the first reserve had only a small professional cadre, and the type B reserve divisions consisted almost entirely of older reservists.
S~
Olivier

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Re: How could France have avoided defeat in WWII?

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 05 Feb 2010 21:52

takata_1940 wrote:
Carl Schwamberger wrote: This is enlightening, but does not get to the bottom of why the miscl histories on my shelf commonly use "R" as the label for these. This usage goes back to the 1960s at least. Maybe I can find the year old message Louis sought to advise me with.
Well Carl, I can't tell you anything about why the "miscl histories" on your shelf are misleading until you'll be able to provide some kind of quotation with context in order to understand what they meant by this label. Same about Louis' old post...
From memory: Hornes 'To lose a Battle' identifies divisions as "R, A, or B. & some are unidentified. Doughty 'To Lose a Battle' uses "Active, A, & B as identification suffixes. Jackson 'The Fall of France' dodges clarity by using only "A & B" & leaving everything else un suffixed. Chapman I cant recall clearly as I did not retain a copy. When the question came to mind last year I went through these & others on my shelves, then directed the question to Louis. His answer ammounted to 'use R, A, & B' with no explination or details.
takata_1940 wrote:So far, I still don't know what you were talking about (manpower, divisions?..) as you mixed both.
The look a bit mixed in the description of the mobilization in your post :) I am unclear if the labels applied to only divisions, or to other sized units not part of the divisions. The chart suggests it did, is that correct?

[/quote]As far as English sources are concerned, you may try, beside many others, Lee Sharp's, The French Army 1939-1940, Organisation, Order of Battle, Operational History, Military Press (seven or eight volumes so far), Or, for more concise explanations, Eugenia C. Kiesling, Arming against Hitler, France and the limits of military planning, University Press of Kansas, 1996:[/quote]

Those are not on my list as available in the university library here. If they have a lot about artillery command and control then I might buy them.
takata_1940 wrote:Page 85 "The Unready Reserve":
Behind General von Seekt's disparaging reference to the French "militia" lies the crucial fact that the French Army's strength lay in its vast reserve organization. Even the so-called active units filled almost half of their wartime slots with reservists. The type A divisions of the first reserve had only a small professional cadre, and the type B reserve divisions consisted almost entirely of older reservists.
That much I understood from Horne, Doughty, & others. My take has been the French army in France was entirely reservist in practical terms, with the career soldiers forming no combat formations in peacetime European France.

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Re: How could France have avoided defeat in WWII?

Post by takata_1940 » 06 Feb 2010 02:01

Carl Schwamberger wrote: From memory: Hornes 'To lose a Battle' identifies divisions as "R, A, or B. & some are unidentified. Doughty 'To Lose a Battle' uses "Active, A, & B as identification suffixes. Jackson 'The Fall of France' dodges clarity by using only "A & B" & leaving everything else un suffixed. Chapman I cant recall clearly as I did not retain a copy. When the question came to mind last year I went through these & others on my shelves, then directed the question to Louis. His answer ammounted to 'use R, A, & B' with no explination or details.
takata_1940 wrote:So far, I still don't know what you were talking about (manpower, divisions?..) as you mixed both.
The look a bit mixed in the description of the mobilization in your post :) I am unclear if the labels applied to only divisions, or to other sized units not part of the divisions. The chart suggests it did, is that correct?
I think my tables were pretty clear concerning the difference between the manpower classification (active, 1st reserve and 2nd reserve) and the unit classifications (active, série A, série B) which is different (i.e. série B units were not formed by 2nd reserve manpower but by the old classes of the 1st reserve). I didn't bother also to sort out the sub units, beside the major formations, by their mobilization status if it's what is troubling you. This label was applied to any formation following its mobilization scheme.

I'll quote someone you had cited as a source for your "R", explaining this scheme with the same terms as me:
Louis Capdeboscq, Posted Wed Dec 17, 2008 5:15 pm, France1940 mailing list.
Briefly, non-divisional units were classified in the same way as divisions i.e. there were active and reserve units, the latter coming in various flavors. The tank battalions - BCC - for instance, were reserve A units and were mobilized as if they had been part of a reserve A division.

There were of course various problems involved with equipment and the like, but for a general answer you should consider the non-divisionals to fall into the same pattern as the divisions. There were entirely too many unit types for me to attempt listing, but perhaps others will contribute or if you ask about specific formations we might provide an answer.
I won't dig out hundreds more post from Louis showing that you misunderstood something. This should prove you that memory is unfriendly and better it would be to re-check your "sources". I'm pretty sure that neither A. Horne nor Robert A. Doughty made this confusion about it.
Those are not on my list as available in the university library here. If they have a lot about artillery command and control then I might buy them.
Then spare your money as they don't. However, they are pretty usefull to understand the French Army organization or the politics of National Defense.
That much I understood from Horne, Doughty, & others. My take has been the French army in France was entirely reservist in practical terms, with the career soldiers forming no combat formations in peacetime European France.
Another confusion. Units in peacetime and wartime don't look the same, they had different TOEs. The percentage of career soldiers in wartime units varied from one category to another, hence the classification "active, série A and série B"... Now, the active peacetime units were also formed from conscripts (not reservists) with professional soldiers, then practically, the only peacetime mostly "professional" troops were the North African, Foreign Legion or Colonial units of which some of them also served in France (6-8 divisions before the war plus lower units).

S~
Olivier

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

Post by Sid Guttridge » 06 Feb 2010 11:30

Hi Guys,

Assuming pre-emptive action in earlier years is ruled out, then I would suggest that French strategy was essentially correct.

France had little more than half the population of the Reich in 1939 and had a lower birth rate. Thus it was conscripting only half the number of men that Germany was by the outbreak of war. So, all other things being equal, any head-to-head war was likely to lead to French defeat in the long run.

France therefore needed a substantial ally. Only the UK fitted the bill, but it could not or would not produce a mass army of significant weight until 1941, because it only introduced conscription in 1939.

France therefore needed a force multiplier to enable it to hold the ring until the British arrived in strength. This was the Maginot Line. It performed this function effectively and was only pierced by the Germans in 1940 because interval troops were withdrawn in order shore up the broken front in the west.

The intervening two years until the British arrived were to be used to blockade Germany and reduce her war making capacity relative to the Allies - something that was eventually brutally effective in WWI and which Hitler greatly feared.

I would suggest that at the highest level French strategic planning was quite sensible at the outbreak of war. I would further suggest that it all went wrong on an operational and tactical level after the outbreak of war.

For a start, a major thrust into Germany west of the Rhine during September 1939, when the Wehrmacht was overwhemingly engaged against Poland, might have deprived Germany of access to Belgium and pre-empted the 1940 indirect blitzkrieg approach through that country. However, the rapid collapse of Poland unnerved the French, who were in any case still psychologically shackled to the defensive Maginot-centred strategy.

Had France held into 1941, Germany was unlikely to win WWII. However, it might well have required more than the Anglo-French to ensure a convincing Allied victory.

Cheers,

Sid.

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

Post by ljadw » 06 Feb 2010 20:00

I remember a French politician(some twenty years ago :( )saying that the French mobilisation was very chaotic,drunken soldiers with half a uniform,no boots ....He was talking of 'l'armée de Bourbaki '(war of 1870 ).

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

Post by Loïc » 07 Feb 2010 17:53

a "Bourbaki's Army" is a french expression to describe an ill-equiped or neglected troop, coming from General Bourbaki's Army of the East who has known a kind of "retreat from Russia" during the winter 1871,
I dont' think that this locution describes really the French Army of 1939-1940 and even it is unfair to the Army of the East who after a victory against the Germans in Villersexel wasn't included in the Armistice and reached Switzerland where it was interned (like Polish and French of the 45th Fortress Army Corps in 1940)

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