The Build up to the Fall of France
- The Allies believed the attack would come through Belgium and Luxembourg. It would be un-likely to come through Alsace-Lorraine due to the Magniot Line and the lack of encircling options.
- Belgium had declared neutrality in 1936 so the French were unable to station there troop their until the Germans attack.
- Belgium was a concern to the Allies as if it was lost to the Germans, the Allies would lose ports, a greater frontier to defend from and loss of Belgium resources.
- The Allies plan had two aspects. Plan D, which was favoured by Gamelin, was that Frecn troops would advance straight into Belgium when the Germans attacked. Plan E was favoured by the sub-ordinated majority of forces waiting at the Front. The BEF would move forward to cover Western Belgium.
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How did the Allies compare militarily to the Germa
- Allies (138) and Germans (136) had roughly the same divisions.
- The Germans (1 million) had more men than the Allies (650,000)
- The Germans (1,200) had more tanks to the Allies (850)
- Germans (3,000) had greater air superiority than the Allies (1,600)
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Why did the Allies lose?
- German tactical surprise as the French hadn't expected an attack until 1941.
- The Germans had successful decoded the French signals and had been informed on the weak sectors of their frontier. The Germans attack on these weak sectors could have been countered by French rapid reaction and redeployment. However, the Frecn suffered delays, confusion and the French armies were usually at the wrong place at the wrong time.
- Attempts at counter attacks were attempted between the 18th May-22nd May, but by the 25th May the idea was abandoned.
- On 26th May, Anglo-French forces were meant to start the offensive, but the Belgian retreat had threatened the British being cut off from the coast so Lord Gort ordered the British troops fil this gap rather than attack. The French wasn't informed and this defeated the prospect of a German defeat in France.
- French collapse was a military defeat. French army was badly trained, equipped and led. The army had not been modernized. Gamelin had left too many men at the Magniot Line (two-fifth of the army). They didn't have a command structure which would have allowed quick communication.
- French government weak and lack resolved. By the 15th May, the French officials werre burning papers which signals the impeding evacuation and the moral authority and executive capacity dissapeared from the government and a military defeat led to a political collaspse.
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What were the successes of the Allies campaign in
- South of Arras by the British against the Rommel 7th Division slowed down German advances.
- The French trrops were key in slowing down the advancing Germans so that as many troops evacuated from Dunkirk.It was only on the 5th day of evacuation that French soldiers told to go.
- 'Weygand Line'. Weygand had 45 divisions against the Germans 95 divisions. After 5 days of battles (5th-9th June) the line was broken from Somme to Aisne and the Germans pursued the French to Loire.
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Why did the Germans win?
- Superiority (air and tank)
- Through tactical surprises. As the Germans army Group B would attacks from the North to divert the Allies away from France while Group A would go through the Ardennes forest which had been deemed by the Allies as unsuitable because of the terrain.
- Germans able to decode French singals.
- Allies mistakes
This meant that the Germans were able to advance 135 miles in a week.
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What were the consequences of the Fall of France?
- Defines the broad outline of the war.
- Britian wouldn't be able to step foot into Europe until 1944 which meant that fighting was concentrated to North Africa and Atlantic.
- Britain peristence in fighting convinced the US to enter the war.
- The French armistice gave Hitler several advanatages. Armisitce was signed at Compiegne in the same railway coach at the Treaty of Versaille which was a massive boost to the morale and Hitler's prestige in Germany. Prevented the French Navy from joining with the Royal Navy and provided Hitler with railways towards to Spain, Atlantic coast, Northern France and the Channels. Also gave Germans submarine bases which gave access to the Channel.
- French now put French unity above the need to defeat Hitler.
- Italian declare of war on 10th June 1940 threatened the British in the mediterranean, Egypt, Suez Canal, Palestine and oilfields in the region.
- Dunkirk-even though it was a success, was a humiliating defeat to the British.
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