Fall Gelb and Mechelen Incident.

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Stugbit
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Fall Gelb and Mechelen Incident.

Post by Stugbit » 28 Jan 2019 01:22

Hello, Guys, how are you?

I have a few questions for you here: Was the initial German strategy for the attack on the Allied really and only a Schlieffen-like plan?
How much the Mechelen Incident played a role in the upcoming invasion of Belgium and France? Were the Germans thinking about a plan B before this?
Was the German victory over the Allies in 1940 a matter of superior understanding of tactics and the military situation of the time overall or can we say that luck have got the Germans the possibility of finding a good spot for an attack almost by chance?
And having the Mechelen incident not happened, in what extent could a German offensive against the Allied succeed?

Best Regards.

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Re: Fall Gelb and Mechelen Incident.

Post by Sheldrake » 28 Jan 2019 11:59

Try reading "The Blitzkrieg Myth " by Karl Heinz Frieser. Its by a Bundeswehr historian. Chapter 3 covers the evolution of the plan. Plan #1 was simply schlieffen. #2 had an armoured thrust south of Liege. #3 had a third line of assault through the ardennes - three points of main effort - or none. This was the plan that Hitler prevaricated about launching in late 1939.

The Mechelen incident did not in itself force change. Manstein's intervention did.

I, and thousands of British, have an indirect personal connection to the Mechelen incident. The officer who landed in Beglium had spent the night before at Muenster Loddenheide Airfield and apparently over indulged. Post WW2 Muenster Loddenheide was one of the airfield used in the Berlin air lift and then the site of British barracks one of which, Waterloo Kaserne, was my home 1983-85. Its now a business estate and peace park. https://www.nationale-stadtentwicklungs ... heide.html

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Re: Fall Gelb and Mechelen Incident.

Post by Stugbit » 28 Jan 2019 14:50

Greetings, Sheldrake.

Thanks for the explanations once more!

I`ll try to get this book as soon as I can, it seems interesting.

I know the French campaign mostly by old books like those of Ballantine – not because I`m too old, by the way, mostly because there`s tons of those in old books stores here for a good price. :D

The books I have they don`t mention the other plans in detail. But those other plans would have feasibility to work out in the end?

So, as you said, the German victory over France was mostly because of Manstein. So, mostly was only him that saw a potential attack from the Vorges. The other Generals didn’t believe the tanks could get through the rough terrain? All the Germans were aware of he absence of Allied forces in those places, isn`t it?

Impressive that you have a connect to the Mechelen Incident specifically. Do you believe that I, myself here in Brazil, have also some indirect connections with WWII as well? Two, at least.

Back in the day, my grandfather was an 88 mm flak gun crew here in Brazil. We bought 12 of those guns from Germany before the war, my grandfather was a poor guy looking for a job at the time and joined the army thinking he would be sent to Italy, but instead they put him in the coastal defense in the Northeast and then he manned the 88 flak.

The second, the neighborhood I live here in Goiânia was conceived by German POWs sent from Britain in the 50s. They traced the streets of the neighborhood like a German town plan. It differs a lot from the rest of the city. Some of them settled here. I didn`t knew about it when I moved in, very interesting, isn`t it? Someday maybe I`ll make a research about those POWs.

Sorry for the long digression, best regards.

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Re: Fall Gelb and Mechelen Incident.

Post by Jan-Hendrik » 28 Jan 2019 14:59

Manstein AND Guderian were the fathers of 'Fall Gelbs' success.

As said, 'Blitzkrieg legend' is much recommended!

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Re: Fall Gelb and Mechelen Incident.

Post by jesk » 28 Jan 2019 17:00

A similar topic was discussed the other day.

viewtopic.php?f=11&t=239512
Carl Schwamberger wrote:
10 Jan 2019 05:09
The plan Manstein wrote as operations officer for Army Group A in October/November was not the Sickle Cut Plan used in May 1940. The plan Manstein wrote was one of three plans tasked to the Army group commanders by Halder for a map exercise or war-game conducted at Halders offices at Zossen in November 1939. Army Group A was only allocated four armored divisions for its task in this exercise & the plan presented was aimed at rupturing the Allied defense on the Meuse river, but a dash to Paris or to the sea was not part of it. Post war Guderian claimed Manstein met briefly with him before the Zossen exercise and asked questions of how armored units should operate. Manstein had no previous experience of training with these weapons. Guderian further claimed the idea of concentrating the armored corps and sending ahead of the infantry was his lesson to Manstein. The latter never mentioned meeting Guderian, or learning anything from him. Manstein had been selected for promotion to corps command & departed the operations position in November. He participated in no further planning.

The sickle cut maneuver emerged from repeated field and map exercises from November 1939 through March 1940. Some were at Halders HQ at Zossen, some run by the army group commanders. The several tests showed mainly that dispersing the armored forces and holding them back in reserve gave the worst results. Concentration with either army group had better but not decisive results, with some favor to concentration with Army Group A. The late exercise in March 1940 did produce a decisive result, after the officer running the Allied side handicapped severely the French army. The participants thought this very unrealistic and judged the French would never fight the battle so ineptly. Most of the senior commanders thought the battle would be tough, and the advance unlikely to be as far as in 1914.

From January through March Kliest as commander of the the concentrated "Panzer Group" of seven armored and two motorized Inf. divisions and Guderian as the most experienced in armored training/operations, and commander of the largest corps in the Pz Grp. did most of the planning for how the concentrated armored force would operate and its objectives. Rundsteadt as AG A commander left most of this to them and his CoS, who to this day remains a non entity.

Guderian in his memoirs noted that there were two alternative plans for the objective of the 'breakout'. Paris & its communications hub was considered along side a effort to reach the Channel. Guderian also describes how this decision remained on the table until the last moment. As he consolidated his corps bridgehead at Sedan he described confirming with Kliest which objective the three armored corps were to take, Paris or the Channel.

Mays in 'Strange Victory' examines in detail the development of the several offensive plans proposed and tested from October through March 1940. Like several other English language historians like Horne or Jackson Mays left me with the impression Halder, Rundsteadt, Kleist, & Guderian went with the final plan out of desperation. Sort of 'This is a risky bad plan, but everything else we looked at is worse.'

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Re: Fall Gelb and Mechelen Incident.

Post by Stugbit » 28 Jan 2019 17:42

All you say, guys, goes in accordance with what John Williams said back in the 70s.

We can say pretty much that the most important aspect of Blitzkrieg during Fall Gelb was tank suspension. It was the only thing that really allowed the attack to happen in the first place.

Jesk`s quotation seems to show clearly that any kind of other tactic would probably not work out, because the German commanders themselves were dubious about success of their plans.

All these in my opinion put in doubt the real blitzkrieg military capacity during the early war, I guess.

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Re: Fall Gelb and Mechelen Incident.

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 16 Feb 2019 02:51

Sheldrake wrote:
28 Jan 2019 11:59
...
The Mechelen incident did not in itself force change. Manstein's intervention did.

...
I'retried to find exactly what this contribution of Mansteins was. Other than his plan provided for the November 1939 map exercise at Zossen thats it. Harder directed that one of the three plans tested then would have the schwerpunckt or main effort south of Leige, the other had the main effort north of Liege, and the third have a balanced effort with a large reserve to exploit results. As tested that day the third option had the worst results, the other two had better but negative results as well. Much is made of Mansteins meeting with Hitler in December, but tracing though Hilers rants, memos, conferences, and order we see he really was not deeply influenced. He waffled all through the subsequent months, favoring whatever random idea that drifted by, alternately manically optimistic and blackly pessimistic. At the time Manstein met Hitler he was newly promoted to command a corps & entirely out of planning of Plan YELLOW or Fall Gelb.
Jesk`s quotation seems to show clearly that any kind of other tactic would probably not work out, because the German commanders themselves were dubious about success of their plans.
There were a few exceptions. Kleist & Guderian being two. Neither was wildly optimistic, but they & a few others saw the possibilities more clearly than the rest. Which is probably why they were placed in command of the critical units for making the concept work. Kliests role as commanding the 'Panzer Group' of three corps is particularly passed over in the execution of the plan from 10 through 20 May.

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Re: Fall Gelb and Mechelen Incident.

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 16 Feb 2019 03:16

Stugbit wrote:
28 Jan 2019 14:50
...
So, as you said, the German victory over France was mostly because of Manstein. So, mostly was only him that saw a potential attack from the Vorges. The other Generals didn’t believe the tanks could get through the rough terrain?...
Not at all. The French sent some five hundred tanks, plus armored cars, armored infantry and weapons carriers, motorized artillery into the Ardennes. To assist the Belgians and delay any German forces advancing by those roads. It is myth that Weyland judged the region impassable. This is a misquote or distortion of one of his conferences to some politicians.
All the Germans were aware of he absence of Allied forces in those places, isn`t it?.
The Germans were aware the Belgians had deployed four of their most mobile divisions in the Ardennes, fortified the region, that the French had five mechanized or armored brigades from their cavalry divisions poised to advance into the Ardennes and had reinforced those with motorized infantry units. More to the point the Germans were aware the French had two entire armies positioned to set a defense on the Meuse River, blocking the south and west rim of the Ardennes region. Some of the German leaders saw weaknesses in the Belgian & French defenses, at least relative to those probable Allied defense north of Liege on the Belgian plain, or to the east on the Saar front. But those weaknesses were not much validated in the many map and field exercises run from November through March.

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Re: Fall Gelb and Mechelen Incident.

Post by Sheldrake » 16 Feb 2019 10:27

Carl Schwamberger wrote:
16 Feb 2019 02:51
Sheldrake wrote:
28 Jan 2019 11:59
...
The Mechelen incident did not in itself force change. Manstein's intervention did.

...
I'retried to find exactly what this contribution of Mansteins was. Other than his plan provided for the November 1939 map exercise at Zossen thats it. Harder directed that one of the three plans tested then would have the schwerpunckt or main effort south of Leige, the other had the main effort north of Liege, and the third have a balanced effort with a large reserve to exploit results. As tested that day the third option had the worst results, the other two had better but negative results as well. Much is made of Mansteins meeting with Hitler in December, but tracing though Hilers rants, memos, conferences, and order we see he really was not deeply influenced. He waffled all through the subsequent months, favoring whatever random idea that drifted by, alternately manically optimistic and blackly pessimistic. At the time Manstein met Hitler he was newly promoted to command a corps & entirely out of planning of Plan YELLOW or Fall Gelb.
Funnily enough I will be seeing Manstein's biographer Mungo Melvin this morning and will ask him at the AGM of the British Commission for Military History. Mungo was behind the involvement of the Commission in supporting the British Army Op Reflect centenary programme. Here is a video I made of the 2018 climax - Army Staff Ride 2018 [youtube]https://youtu.be/5hchJCHSEsY[/youtube]

I suspect I will get a flea in my ear as Mungo picked Sedan as the last stand because both Manstein and Guderian had served there in 1918. M<y prediction is that you will be invited to read his book.....

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Re: Fall Gelb and Mechelen Incident.

Post by Stugbit » 16 Feb 2019 14:57

Many thanks for explaining those points, guys.

But let me ask you, even if the Vorges were also occupied by Allied forces, a gap in their line of defense should still exist, or not?

Because I`m used to understand that the 1940 campaign was more or less like a Judo fight match. In order to win in judo you need to use your opponent`s own strength against him, and that`s what I thought the Germans did in Fall Gelb, an attack similar to a judo move.

The Germans were using their tanks as the breakthrough weapon and, as long as I`m concerned, there were very few tank battles in the invasion, all of them happening far behind the Allied lines of defense. I can recall only two, the Battle of Arras and some sort of French diversion southwards in the area next to Liege. All of those battles resulted in many tank casualties for the German side and they had to rely on Flak guns to stop the Allied. Their tanks were superior in terms of a direct combat. Stuka aircraft also couldn`t hurt tanks at the time, so most of the destroyed Allied tanks we see in photographs are ones that their own crew set on fire. The majority of them didn`t engaged in combat.

They set them on fire because the Germans were cutting off their supply lines, and there were all confusion going on, things like that and there was a great deal of psychological impact playing a part in Allied forces minds too.

So, if the Germans reached or threatened their supply lines, it is because there was a weak spot on their own defense.

So, where it was this weak spot?

Perhaps the weak spot was the French AT guns they had at the time, because Rommel`s Ghost Division managed to get through a fortified area with tanks, isn`t it? He managed to open a spot in the defense and the French AT weapons couldn`t stop him.

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Re: Fall Gelb and Mechelen Incident.

Post by Sheldrake » 16 Feb 2019 23:24

Stugbit wrote:
16 Feb 2019 14:57
Many thanks for explaining those points, guys.

But let me ask you, even if the Vorges were also occupied by Allied forces, a gap in their line of defense should still exist, or not?

Because I`m used to understand that the 1940 campaign was more or less like a Judo fight match. In order to win in judo you need to use your opponent`s own strength against him, and that`s what I thought the Germans did in Fall Gelb, an attack similar to a judo move.

The Germans were using their tanks as the breakthrough weapon and, as long as I`m concerned, there were very few tank battles in the invasion, all of them happening far behind the Allied lines of defense. I can recall only two, the Battle of Arras and some sort of French diversion southwards in the area next to Liege. All of those battles resulted in many tank casualties for the German side and they had to rely on Flak guns to stop the Allied. Their tanks were superior in terms of a direct combat. Stuka aircraft also couldn`t hurt tanks at the time, so most of the destroyed Allied tanks we see in photographs are ones that their own crew set on fire. The majority of them didn`t engaged in combat.

They set them on fire because the Germans were cutting off their supply lines, and there were all confusion going on, things like that and there was a great deal of psychological impact playing a part in Allied forces minds too.

So, if the Germans reached or threatened their supply lines, it is because there was a weak spot on their own defense.

So, where it was this weak spot?

Perhaps the weak spot was the French AT guns they had at the time, because Rommel`s Ghost Division managed to get through a fortified area with tanks, isn`t it? He managed to open a spot in the defense and the French AT weapons couldn`t stop him.
You need to rtead the German official history of the campaign. https://www.amazon.co.uk/Blitzkrieg-Leg ... 1591142954

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Re: Fall Gelb and Mechelen Incident.

Post by Stugbit » 16 Feb 2019 23:53

Sheldrake wrote:
16 Feb 2019 23:24
Stugbit wrote:
16 Feb 2019 14:57
Many thanks for explaining those points, guys.

But let me ask you, even if the Vorges were also occupied by Allied forces, a gap in their line of defense should still exist, or not?

Because I`m used to understand that the 1940 campaign was more or less like a Judo fight match. In order to win in judo you need to use your opponent`s own strength against him, and that`s what I thought the Germans did in Fall Gelb, an attack similar to a judo move.

The Germans were using their tanks as the breakthrough weapon and, as long as I`m concerned, there were very few tank battles in the invasion, all of them happening far behind the Allied lines of defense. I can recall only two, the Battle of Arras and some sort of French diversion southwards in the area next to Liege. All of those battles resulted in many tank casualties for the German side and they had to rely on Flak guns to stop the Allied. Their tanks were superior in terms of a direct combat. Stuka aircraft also couldn`t hurt tanks at the time, so most of the destroyed Allied tanks we see in photographs are ones that their own crew set on fire. The majority of them didn`t engaged in combat.

They set them on fire because the Germans were cutting off their supply lines, and there were all confusion going on, things like that and there was a great deal of psychological impact playing a part in Allied forces minds too.

So, if the Germans reached or threatened their supply lines, it is because there was a weak spot on their own defense.

So, where it was this weak spot?

Perhaps the weak spot was the French AT guns they had at the time, because Rommel`s Ghost Division managed to get through a fortified area with tanks, isn`t it? He managed to open a spot in the defense and the French AT weapons couldn`t stop him.
You need to rtead the German official history of the campaign. https://www.amazon.co.uk/Blitzkrieg-Leg ... 1591142954
Of course I need, Sheldrake. But the kindle version alone costs like 80 of the money we have here. It`s a bit harsh for the moment. I`m still aiming for the other book you recommended me before. But you`re a good fellow, couldn`t you just make me a very little, small, tiny bit of summ on the matter?

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Re: Fall Gelb and Mechelen Incident.

Post by Sheldrake » 17 Feb 2019 11:28

Stugbit wrote:
16 Feb 2019 23:53
Of course I need, Sheldrake. But the kindle version alone costs like 80 of the money we have here. It`s a bit harsh for the moment. I`m still aiming for the other book you recommended me before. But you`re a good fellow, couldn`t you just make me a very little, small, tiny bit of summ on the matter?
HIstography here - summary of arguments for free https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Historiog ... _of_France

According to Mungo Melvin Manstein developed an early variant of the plan. In Koblenz he asked Guderian about the viability of the plan for panzer forces.

HJitl;er did raise the matter of the plan in the 17 (?) Feb meeting with Manstein and others. Halder did not like Manstein and probably cpould not bring himself to approve it was long as Manstein was anywhere near.

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Re: Fall Gelb and Mechelen Incident.

Post by ljadw » 17 Feb 2019 12:36

Some caution is needed for the Blitzkrieg Legend : it is ful of propaganda for Manstein .And Frieser is overestimating the Allies and underestimating the Germans .

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Re: Fall Gelb and Mechelen Incident.

Post by ljadw » 17 Feb 2019 12:42

Stugbit wrote:
28 Jan 2019 01:22
Hello, Guys, how are you?

I have a few questions for you here: Was the initial German strategy for the attack on the Allied really and only a Schlieffen-like plan?
How much the Mechelen Incident played a role in the upcoming invasion of Belgium and France? Were the Germans thinking about a plan B before this?
Was the German victory over the Allies in 1940 a matter of superior understanding of tactics and the military situation of the time overall or can we say that luck have got the Germans the possibility of finding a good spot for an attack almost by chance?
And having the Mechelen incident not happened, in what extent could a German offensive against the Allied succeed?

Best Regards.
The influence of the Mechelen incident was mostly mythical, as the LW officer had only a very small knowledge of the German plan,and as most of his documents were destroyed .

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