FCM 36

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James A Pratt III
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Joined: 30 Apr 2006 00:08
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FCM 36

Post by James A Pratt III » 03 Jul 2006 21:53

I am looking for information on the use of the FCM 36 tank during the 1940 campaign by the 4th and 7th BCC. All I have been able to find out is on 14 May 1940 the 7th BCC lost 29 of 39 tanks in a fight with the 1st PD at Bulson near the Meuse River. Nothing on the 4th BCC. Can anyone help me? Thanks in advance.

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David Lehmann
Posts: 2863
Joined: 01 Apr 2002 10:50
Location: France

Post by David Lehmann » 03 Jul 2006 22:05

The FCM-36 was built by the "société des Forges et Chantiers de la Mediterranée", designed to be an infantry support tank. This was the first mass produced French diesel powered tank. 100 units have been built and used against the Germans in the 4e and 7e BCC. It had a modern look, sloped armor and an octagonal shaped FCM turret but a poor armament with its 37mm SA18 L/21 gun and a coaxial MG (very few could be rearmed with the 37mm SA38 L/33 gun). It was liked because of its bigger autonomy and mobility (smaller turning circle) compared to the Renault R35 for example.
Weight : 12.35t
Length : 4.51m
Width : 2.14m
Height : 2.20m
Crew : 2 men
Maximum armor : 40mm (turret is RHA+cast welded armor and hull is RHA welded armor)
Maximum speed : 24 km/h (Berliet-Ricardo engine, 4 cylinders, diesel, 91 hp, 8400 cm3, water cooled)
Diameter of turning circle at 6 km/h : 6.50m (Jentz)
Transmission : 5 forward, 1 reverse
Autonomy : 225 km
Ground pressure : 0.75 kg/cm² (compared to 0.73 for PzIIc, 0.92 for a Pz III e/f and 0.83 for PzIVd)
Armament : a 37mm SA18 L/21 gun and a 7.5mm MAC1931 CMG (102 shells and 3000 cartridges)

FCM-36 tank vision means

Hull :
1x PPL RX 160 episcope (68° horizontal field of view, 24° vertical field of view)
2x lateral slits

FCM turret (1.287 ton) :
1x L.713 / L.739 sight (37mm SA18 gun)
3x PPL RX 160 episcopes (68° horizontal field of view, 24° vertical field of view)
3x slits

FCM36 tanks in action in 1940 (example of the history of the 7e BCC):
The 7e BCC had been formed in Versailles on August 25, 1939 and garrisoned in Loges-en-Joses beginning September 1939. On September 10, 1939 the battalion is at Milly-sur-Bradon and Murvaux where the training goes on. The 7e BCC leaves for Verdun on November 19, 1939. The practical and tactical level is improved on the training range of Le Chaume and on the firing range of Douaumont.

On March 28, 1940, the 7e BCC is sent to the Mourmelon camp to take part to different intense trainings and activities:
• Infantry / tank cooperation trainings with successive infantry regiments (1 different each week – e.g. the 3e RTM from colonel Desré on April 18, 1940 during a training in front of general Touchon)
• Courses for infantry battalion commanders about the tanks
• Manoeuvres with the DCrs (French armoured divisions of the French infantry)

On May 14, the tank battalion is engaged in a sacrifice mission to delay the German tanks and counter-attack to the Meuse River. The 7e BCC is engaged on a 5 km large front (divisional front usually) and advanced on 2 km. It resists during 4 hours to German tank waves. The remaining tanks retreated, out of ammunition and exhausted. The battalion had lost 50% of the crews and 75% of the tanks but delayed the Germans enough to allow the 3e DIM and the 3e DCr to deploy south of the Mont-Dieu woody hills.

On May 15, the battalion is reorganizing and on May 16 it joins the 36e DI on the Aisne River near Attigny. At first only 5 tanks are fully operational. After repairs 11 tanks are available and on May 27, 16 tanks are operational. Until beginning June, the reduced battalion launches several successful counter-attacks to defeat German assaults.

On June 9-10, the French 36e DI is opposed to 3 infantry divisions (26.ID, 10.ID and SS-Polizei), which open the way to the 6.PzD and 8.PzD supported by the 20.ID(mot). The French division has to defend a front of 20 km whereas such a division should normally defend a front of 5-7 km. On the front of the 36e DI only 2 regiments (18e RI and 57e RI) defend the frontline (the 14e RI is on a second line) but they defeat the 26.ID and the 10.ID, which are replaced on June 10 by the SS-Polizei division and elements of the 6.PzD. The French stopped first all the German assaults in part thanks to very precise artillery support and counter-attacks from tanks of the 7e BCC and 4e BCC (FCM36 tanks). The French 36e DI captured 714 German POWs during these 2 days. The French 2e DI is deployed more west and faces 3 infantry divisions (17.ID, 21.ID and 52.ID) and the assaults of the 1.PzD as well as later the 2. PzD supported by the 29.ID(mot). The collapse of the 2e DI near Château-Porcien will force the 36e DI to retreat.

On June 10, after a move of 20 km under German artillery fire, the 16 tanks of the 7e BCC assault the enemy north of Vouziers in support of the 36e DI. After 2 hours of combat and a progression of 7 km, all the assigned objectives are taken despite the German strong resistance and the attacks of 62 German aircraft. The FCM36 tanks delay the Germans at Vouziers during 24 hours, but on June 11 only 4 tanks are remaining.
Two companies of the 4e BCC (also FCM36 tanks) intervene also for the benefit of the 36e DI. The 1/4e BCC are engaged with infantry elements from the 57e RI and the 14e RI (the groupe franc of the regiment) against the 78.IR (26.ID) next to Voncq and Les Alleux, north of Vouziers. The 26.ID looses 1,100 men, mainly in the 78.IR.

The remnants of the 7e BCC will retreat and the battalion is officially dissolved on July 31 1940.

Between May 14 and June 11 1940, the FCM36 tanks took part in 5 combats in the Ardennes. They fought in places like Bulson, Chémery, Stonne, Mont Damion, Oches, Les Alleux, Vandy, Terron, Voncq, Roche or Rilly-sur-Aisne. The FCM36 had no gun really efficient gun in tank versus tank warfare and the number of AP shells was limited. In the French light tanks, intended for infantry support as primary task there were generally about 40% AP shells but in the 7e BCC the tanks had only 12 AP shells, at least in the 3rd company, as indicated by the war diary of the battalion. That does not say if they were 1892/24, 1935 or 1937 shells whose penetration performances are significantly different. The crew fought also without the help of radio sets.
Nonetheless, each time they fought against the enemy without having to face other tanks (that means it the infantry support role they were designed for) they inflicted heavy losses and won the ground. Each time they had to face the numerous German tanks they sacrificed themselves. In June 1940, the last 25 FCM36 tanks from the 2 battalions continued to fight between Reims and Paris (e.g. combat at Sézanne on June 13) and to protect the retreat of other units.


Details about the counter-attack on May 14, 1940:

On May 13 afternoon, during the German assaults, the 4e BCC (FCM36 tanks) and the 7e BCC (FCM36 tanks) are ordered to prepare to move, not yet to counter-attack. The 4e BCC will have to operate with elements of the 205e RI (71e DI) and the 7e BCC with elements of the 213e RI (55e DI), which were left on the rear by these 2 reserve and under-equipped infantry divisions.

Two German infantry companies from 1.Schützen Regiment (Balck) are already deployed between Chéhery and the Saint-Quentin farm on 13th May evening. On 14th May morning they are reinforced by various troops and AT guns, including the 14th AT company from "Grossdeutschland" regiment.
At 5h30, Panzer Regiment 2 (Oberstleutnant Breusing - 1.PzD) starts to move from Gaulier towards Bulson and Chémery. This regiment at full strength consists in :
• 4 Befehlspanzer
• 26 Panzer I
• 49 Panzer II
• 30 Panzer III
• 20 Panzer IV
The 1./s.Pz.Jg.Abt.8 (1.PzD) with its 8.8cm FlaK (Sfl) auf Sd.Kfz.8 is also engaged (and possibly the Sturmgeschütz-Batterie 640 from the "Grossdeutschland" regiment).

The last defenders of Sedan were still deployed in front of the German troops but will be quickly defeated by the German tanks. Several will manage to flee towards the west (Omicourt and cross the Bar River) or the east. But the soldiers who were in the Marfée woods and retreated to Chaumont realize at 8h00 that German troops are already behind them at Bulson. They are encircled. Hundreds of French soldiers are captured. Several of them will nonetheless manage to escape to the east and join the 3e DINA for the combats around Yonck on 15th May.

General Lafontaine, commander of the 55e DI, is in charge of leading the future counter-attack from his HQ in Maisoncelle. He is simply not aware of all these events during the beginning of the morning !
All the French movements are hampered by thousands of refugees and by soldiers fleeing the field after the "Bulson panic" among the artillery units of the French rears on the front of Sedan. The Luftwaffe is also very present, spotting and/or attacking all French movements. The communications are generally cut, the units are isolated. General Lafontaine will have huge problems in trying to coordinate this attack; he is even unaware of the location of the units placed under his command.

The 4e BCC (commandant de Saint-Sernin) is deployed around Beaumont-en-Argonne and the Sommauthe woods. The 7e BCC (commandant Giordani) is deployed south of Le Chesne, next to Les Alleux. On 10th and 11th May the area is bombed by the Luftwaffe 3 times per day. The 2 tank battalions would have about 20 km to cross, in about 1-2 hours in good conditions. The two infantry regiments would need about 3 hours by foot to reach the departure line on the Chémery-Maisoncelle line.

Except the 213e RI, which is not far away from general Lafontaine, the 3 other units meant for the attack cannot yet be reached by their new commander. The 7e BCC begins its movement only at 20h30 on 13th May, on the national road n°77 (Le Chesne – Tannay – Chémery) mainly because of the intense activity of the Luftwaffe. The very first elements of the tank battalion reach Chémery at 3h30 only but the tanks arrive only at 6h30. The 205e RI is around Raucourt during the night. The 4e BCC will only reach the 205e RI on 14th May during the morning. There is no cohesion between the 4 units.

On May 14 morning the planned attack is very late. The 4e BCC and 205e RI did not arrive in time. There is no artillery preparation available. The French movements were heavily hampered on the road full of refugees and retreating troops. The 7e BCC will need all the night to reach the departure line and will nonetheless be engaged immediately with minimal intelligence about the enemy.

On May 14 morning, general Lafontaine is only in contact with the western wing of the planned attack (213e RI and 7e BCC) but nonetheless launches the attack at 6h15. Each infantry battalion is supported by 1 tank company (13 FCM36 tanks). The infantry regiment is much reduced compared to its theoretical men strength. There are no hand grenades available, no AT guns and no AA guns. Most of the LMG have only 2 magazines. It is rather a mission of sacrifice. When the first tanks of the 7e BCC finally reach the departure line, it is around 6h30.

On the left : the 3/7e BCC (13 FCM36 tanks - capitaine Mignotte) attacks on the Chémery-Connage axis. They are supported by the reduced II/213e RI battalion (commandant Couturier).

On the right : the 1/7e BCC (13 FCM36 tanks - capitaine Waitzenegger) and the 2/7e BCC (13 FCM36 tanks – lieutenant Join Lambert) attack from Chémery and Maisoncelle towards Bulson. They are supported by elements of the I/213e RI (commandant Desgranges) and III/213e RI (commandant Gauvain) battalions.

The French troops are constantly spotted by German aircraft.

1) ON THE RIGHT (towards Bulson)

The French advancing troops reaches their first objectives. The 2/7e BCC and I/213e RI move to Font Dagot. The 1/7e BCC and III/213e RI move to hill 304 despite German infantry fire coming from the woods. 3 German MGs are destroyed. The progression goes on to the heights next to Bulson : hill 322 for the 2/7e BCC and hill 303 for the 1/7e BCC. But about 100 German tanks supported by 3 infantry battalions reach Bulson at 8h00 and will clash with the only 26 FCM36 tanks supported by 2 reduced infantry battalions.

1/7e BCC
The 1st platoon of aspirant Crémieux-Bach is frontally engaged by the German core force : light and heavy tanks supported by AT guns. 2 ennemy tanks are immobilized but the 3 FCM36 are knocked out.
The 2nd platoon of adjudant-chef Pierre engages the German tanks near the woods of La Réserve. 2 German tanks are damaged but 1 FCM36 is hit several times including two penetrating projectiles. The commander (caporal Bruneval) is KIA and the driver (Trouillod) is WIA, but manages to drive the tank in safety in the French rear lines. The 2 other tanks of the 2nd platoon move back to the woods of Blanche Maison where they fight along the 3rd and 4th platoons until 10h30.
From the initial 13 tanks, 9 have been abandoned or destroyed. Only 4 tanks are remaining, including one whose turret is damaged and blocked. The infantry of the III/213e RI retreats to the ditch of La Nacelle, 2 company commanders have been killed.

2/7e BCC
The 3 tanks of the 1st platoon move to hill 261 and cover the right flank towards Bulson.
The 9 tanks from the 2nd, 3rd and 4th platoons move to hill 322.
At the exit of Bulson, 6 Panzer IIIs are spotted by two 75mm Mle1897 field guns batteries (from the I/78e RA, 5e DLC) deployed in Maisoncelle. From long range they engage the German tanks in direct fire and 2 tanks are rapidly burning, the others take cover behind hill 322.
The FCM36 of the lieutenant Leclair (commander of the 3rd platoon) crosses hill 322 but is seen burning a few seconds later after having been hit by 4 shells. The 8 remaining FCM36 are engaged by numerous German tanks and AT guns. They engage a duel with the German tanks.
They locate the enemy tanks (while remaining hidden) thanks to the protruding radio antenna mast from the German tanks. Then they just advance, hull down, and fire on the located target at close range before moving back and repeating the process : advance, fire, move back behind the hill. The German tanks are hit numerous times, several are immobilized and others move back but they are not seriously damaged. Unfortunately the FCM36 is only armed with the 37mm SA18 gun and each tank of the 7e BCC has only few AP shells.
Several FCM36 tanks are also hit. On one of them the turret is first hit by projectiles which don't penetrate but finally a projectile unsolders the top of the turret (copula).
After 2 hours of combat, 10 FCM36 tanks are knocked out. The 3 remaining tanks retreat to Artaise-le-Vivier. On the way they skirmish again with Germans tanks around Maisoncelle..
Concerning the I/213e RI : 2 out of 3 company commanders are killed and the last one is WIA and captured by the Germans. The infantry battalion is heavily shelled by enemy mortars and also bombed. The I/213e RI retreats under the protection of the last French tanks. General Lafontaine leaves his HQ 500m north east of Maisoncelle amongst the last men.

2) ON THE LEFT (3 km on the west, towards Chéhery)

3/7e BCC
The II/213e RI starts the attack on the Chémery-Chéhery road at 6h15, without the tanks. Chémery is only occupied by the 7th company as well as by one 25mm AT gun from the 506th AT company (the divisional AT company from the 55e DI – capitaine Nicolle). These AT guns have probably retreated to Chémery on 13th May.
After having been on the move all night long, the 13 FCM36 have still about 10 hours autonomy with their diesel engine. The ammunition racks are full but there are only 12 AP shells per tank. No enemy tank has in fact been reported to the battalion as having crossed the Meuse River.

1200 meters north of Chémery, there is a bottleneck in the valley in which the tanks will have to advance : on the left the Bar River and on the right a woody hill where only infantry units could progress. The company commander, capitaine Mignotte, wants to reach this bottleneck before being eventually outflanked.

The platoon from sous-lieutenant Pagès is in front, on the Chémery-Chéhery road. Capitaine Mignotte is on the rear left, between the road and the Bar River. The 3 other platoons are still in Chémery (sous-lieutenant Lacroix, aspirant Loiseau, sous-lieutenant Levitte).

After an advance of several hundred meters the tanks are ambushed by German troops including an AT gun, which fires on the Pagès platoon. The French tanks fire back and the other platoons are deploying. The FCM36 of Pagès is hit several times without penetration but a damaged track immobilizes the tank.

A 2nd German AT gun opens fire but both German guns are quickly destroyed by the French tank company supported by a few 25mm AT guns. Many shells have hit the FCM36 tanks but none has penetrated the sloped armor. German troops are stormed and are killed or fleeing in the woods. The German troops present at the western and southern edges of the woods of Naumont are eliminated by the French tanks and infantry. The French advance can be carried on.

The 3/7e BCC reaches the bottleneck but the infantry did not follow the tanks and would be useful to control this position. Capitaine Mignotte moves back, sitting outside the turret on the turret hatch to show the infantry that the area is safe. He brings an infantry squad with him to the bottleneck.

The 2 tanks of platoon Pagès remain on the rear with the immobilized tank of the platoon commander.

The platoon of Levitte has been delayed during the combats against the German troops and 1-2 tanks are stuck in a marsh close to the Bar River.

7 FCM36 tanks move on towards Connage, the next town at 600 meters (Capitaine Mignotte, platoon Loiseau and platoon Lacroix). Connage is reached without problem; the German troops evacuated the town. The French tanks move on towards Chéhery. During the movement a German AT gun battery fired from a hill east of Connage but without damaging the tanks. The tank of Loiseau is at his turn stuck in a marsh next to Connage. The tanks of platoon Levitte will later tow the tank of Loiseau under enemy fire.

The 6 other tanks moves on :
• Platoon Lacroix (3 tanks commanded by Lacroix, Corbeil and Tirache)
• Platoon Loiseau, now under command of sergent Le Tallec (2 tanks commanded by Le Tallec and Boitard)
• The tank of capitaine Mignotte.

Platoon Lacroix is advancing on the forefront. The tanks of Le Tallec and Boitard are on the left and slightly on the rear. Capitaine Mignotte is in the centre of the deployment.

Suddenly, about 100m in front of Lacroix a Panzer III (or a Panzer IV according to the testimonies). Lacroix moves at full speed, stops at only 15 meters of the German tanks and opens fire. He has been followed by Corbeil and Le Tallec. Boitard and Tirache remains about 300m on the rear and provide fire support to the advancing French tanks. Mignotte joins the 3 tanks of the first echelon and engages the combat.

The German tank is reinforced by 2 other Panzer III/IVs. These 3 Panzers are 15-20 meters in front of the 4 French tanks. Behind these 3 German tanks there is a swarm of incoming Panzers. The combat is engaged on the road. Each French tank rapidly fires its 12 AP shells. The HE shells are then fired to blind the enemy tanks. In the war diary of the company the German tanks are described as firing back extremely slowly. Apparently the German rate of fire was not always as high as said.

Many German shells are bouncing on the armor of the FCM36 tanks, even at this very close range, but those who arrive directly frontally penetrate the armor.
In Corbeil's FCM36 the driver (Lintanff) is WIA. Despite being wounded he continues to pass ammunitions to his commander in the turret.
In Lacroix's FCM36 the commander is WIA and bails out. The driver (Rochelle) replaces him I the turret and continues to fire until being hit at his turn.

One German tank is nonetheless burning. But at this moment new German units are involved and their shells are more efficient. They are described as having 75mm (Panzer IV) and 105mm guns. These "105mm guns" could very well be the 8.8cm self-propelled AT guns which are involved in this area. In Abbeville too the 8.8cm FlaK or often described as 105mm guns (although 105mm guns were really used as AT guns).
Corbeil's tank is hit by a heavy shell on the front hull and Lintanff is this time KIA. In the turret Corbeil continues to fire. A second shell damages his 37mm SA18 gun. Corbeil exits the tank and hides in a ditch beside the road.

Le Tallec's tank receives a projectile in the engine and starts to burn. During several minutes the crew nonetheless continues to fire. The heat becomes unbearable and the crew bails out. Le Tallec and Audoire manage to reach the French troops in Chémery.

At this stage, 2 French tanks have been destroyed (Corbeil and Le Tallec) and the tank of Lacroix is immobilized but still firing. At least one German tank has been destroyed. The tank of Mignotte is still fully operational despite the fact that 2 projectiles have penetrated the turret. These projectiles caused no real damage inside and the crew remains untouched. It is also noted that Germans tanks were reluctant to close and therefore come closer to several burning tanks. The French diary mentions the hypothesis that it was because they carried jerry cans and feared to put fire on them.

Capitaine Mignotte orders to his driver (Heinrich) to execute a 180° turn, in order to expose the rear of the tank to the enemy. The mass and thickness of the engine are directed towards the threat. A German heavy shell (described as being a 105mm … probably a 75mm or 88mm actually) destroys the left track and moves the tank on several meters.
Mignotte orders Heinrich to leave the tank while he fires to cover his escape. Heintich is also ordered to tell the 2 last tanks (Boitard and Tirache) 300 meters on the rear to retreat to Chémery.
The 37mm SA18 gun of Mignotte fires HE shell after HE shell but jams. The Germans stop to fire at his tank, thinking probably that he is out of combat.
The breech is unblocked and about 30 HE shells are remaining (out of a total of 102 shells initially).
A German tank starts to move slowly on several meters. Mignotte fires again. The FCM36 from Le Tallec is still burning and hides partially Mignotte's tank to the Germans.
Many German shells are bouncing on the armor of the FCM36. Mignotte fires all his 30 HE shells and bails out, expecting to be fired at. Surprisingly the German tanks stop their fire. Did they just save their ammunition or did they want to show respect to the French officer who fought courageously ?
Sergent Corbeil, who was hiding beside the road, helps Mignotte. They manage to escape and 1 hour later they reach Chémery.

The 2 remaining platoons (Pagès and Levitte) are engaged later by many AT guns and 8.8 self-propelled AT guns.
At Connagen, Levitte's tank is immobilized by a 105mm shell (88mm ?). They try to tow the tank but a second shell hits the tank. While trying to move in a safer place the FCM36 from sergent Froussard remains stuck in the same marsh than the tank of Loiseau.

Only 3 tanks are recovered from the whole company. A few men from the repair unit and several motorcyclists defeat German soldiers trying to reach Chémery from the west of the Bar River. The 3/7e BCC has lost 14 men and 10 tanks after more than 2 hours of combat.

Between the bottleneck and Chémery the II/213e RI retreats while fighting and manages to avoid being encircled by Balck's soldiers supported by the German tanks. The men received ammunition supplies and successively each platoon covers the retreat of one other platoon. Despite being only a reserve unit the battalion shows discipline. The 7th company which remained in Chémery covers the retreat and fire at the Germans when they are at 200 meters. But the first German tanks enter in Chémery and the French troops have no means to stop them. The very few 25mm AT guns are not sufficient against the waves of German tanks. The battalion commander is WIA, his staff officer and 2 company commanders are KIA.

Surprisingly the Panzer Regiment 2 indicates having faced Renault B1bis tanks during 14th May morning. This is not possible. The 3e DCr will arrive more south around Le Chesne only between 16h00 and 18h00. There are no B1bis tanks in the area. The French troops counter-attacking would certainly have like to have several ones with them instead of fighting tanks with the 37mm SA18 gun.

The Luftwaffe has also been very active against the French troops during all the morning. An attack led by Ju87 dive bombers is launched against Chémery, which is occupied by their own troops at the moment of the attack.
The HQ of the Panzerbrigade, the HQ of the Panzer Regiment and the HQ of the II.Abteilung are hit among other troops. Oberleutnant Graf Harrach, Oberleutnant von Fürstenberg, Leutnant Fritschen and 8 men are killed. Many other men are WIA, including Oberst Keltsch (commander of the Panzerbrigade 1). Several German vehicles are destroyed including at least one 8.8cm self-propelled AT gun, which has been photographed many times. The same day the commander of the Sturmpionier Battalion 43 (Mahler) is killed in Chéhery by Ju87 dive bombers.

At 12h00, the core of the "Grossdeutschland" infantry regiment reaches also Bulson. The last men of the 55e DI have roughly disappeared in these fights.

The orders given to the German troops on May 14 at 14h00 are :
• "Grossdeutschland" regiment with 2 heavy artillery groups : take the heights of Stonne and cover the southern flank.
• 1.PzD : attack to the west, cross the Ardennes canal at Malmy and Omicourt.
• 2.PzD : attack to the west, cross the Ardennes canal at Hannogne
• 10.PzD : this division is belated and still around Sedan

The small French counter-attack launched on May 14 was of course insufficient and improvised. From the 39 engaged FCM36 tanks 29 have been lost. This sacrifice enabled French reinforcements to deploy 15 km south of Sedan, next to the Mont-Dieu hilly woods :
• At 4h00 : the 6e GRDI is at Stonne and in the Mont-Dieu woods
• Between 10h00 and 16h00 : the 3e DIM arrives in the area
• Between 16h00 and 18h00 : the 3e DCr is deployed

The situation could have been very dangerous for the Germans at that moment if the French had immediately launched a concentrated attack with these 2 divisions against Sedan. Only the "Grossdeutschland" regiment was covering the southern flank during this afternoon. The 10.PzD is belated, the 1.PzD and the 2.PzD would have been eventually cut from their rears and attacked on their left flank. But general Flavigny (21st Army Corps) wants to wait for the 15th May and the attack will not happen. The French high command in May had always the obsession of a continuous front. In the Mont-Dieu area the German losses will be really very high but 2 very good French divisions are stuck in a battle of defense and counter-attacks while the German Panzerdivisionen are heading west.



User avatar
David Lehmann
Posts: 2863
Joined: 01 Apr 2002 10:50
Location: France

Post by David Lehmann » 03 Jul 2006 22:16

Concerning the 4e BCC there is a major engagement for this unis on June 9-10 at Voncq when operating with the 36e DI.

Information about this can be found e.g. in:

"Les chars français à Voncq les 9 et 10 juin 1940" in the Revue Historique des Armées (1962) by A. Golaz
There are excerpts (in French) on this website: http://www.chars-francais.net/archives/ ... /4_bcc.htm

"La 36e division d'infanterie à l'honneur, 1939-1940" by Colonel F. Soulet

The German offensive is prepared for June 9 morning on the Aisne River. During the following battle, roughly 5 French infantry divisions and about 160 tanks will have to face 4 Panzerdivisionen (about 1,200 tanks) and 14 infantry divisions.
The French 10e DI is attacked by 3 infantry divisions (3.ID, 23.ID and 298.ID). The French 2e DI will have to stop 2 Panzerdivisionen (1.PzD and 2. PzD supported by 29.ID(mot)) and 3 infantry divisions (17.ID, 21.ID and 52.ID). The French 14e DI is attacked by 3 infantry divisions (73.ID, 82.ID and 86.ID). The French 36e DI is opposed to 3 infantry divisions (26.ID, 10.ID and SS-Polizei) whose task is to open the way to the 6.PzD and 8.PzD supported by 20.ID(mot). Each French division has to defend a front of 20 km whereas such a division should normally defend a front of 5-7 km.

On the front of the 36e DI only 2 regiments (18e RI and 57e RI) defended the frontline but defeated at first the 26.ID and 10.ID, which were replaced on June 10 by the SS-Polizei and elements of the 6.PzD.
First they stopped all the German assaults in part thanks to their good supporting artillery and took numerous German POWs, then they had to pull back because of the collapse of the 2e DI facing two Panzerdivisionen more west.

During the June 9-10, several German divisions were roughly handled by the French troops, especially on the Aisne River.
• the French 36e DI captured 714 German POWs
• the 14e DI captured about 800 Germans POWs and many assaults were defeated
• the 2e DI captured about 500 German POWs
• at the same time, the German 36.ID and 299.ID Divisions lost some 2,500 men while fighting the French 6e DI.
• the German 58.ID lost 1,600 men, while attacking the French 1e DIC.

The 4e BCC fought with the 36e DI during these days but I have not yet written an English summary like I did it for the 7e BCC.



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