Welcome to the WWII Forums! Log in or Sign up to interact with the community.

Belgium does not remain neutral

Discussion in 'What If - European Theater - Western Front & Atlan' started by T. A. Gardner, Jan 9, 2009.

  1. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2002
    Messages:
    22,301
    Likes Received:
    1,050
    Location:
    Kotka,Finland
    Well, it all depends on what Gamelin would have done. His best bet was that the Germans would do the Schlieffen plan again. And also what part the Luftwaffe would play after having taken total air control after two-three days of operations, could they bomb the way open and destroy the troop movements.
     
    urqh likes this.
  2. urqh

    urqh Tea drinking surrender monkey

    Joined:
    Dec 23, 2002
    Messages:
    9,683
    Likes Received:
    953
    I think what Kai says is true, I take on board fully what Carl says.

    But, I will have to do more research on Gamelin and his probable actions based on his recorded views in the past.

    I know Gamelin for me and the French leadership is the problem and not whether alllies are bolstered, unless it is of course in the right position. So I'm off to research his thoughts. I cant speak for him but I'll try to let him speak for himself.
     
  3. Carl W Schwamberger

    Carl W Schwamberger Ace

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2007
    Messages:
    1,051
    Likes Received:
    81
    I've not read enough written on French leadership in English. Doughty, Horne, Chapman, May, & the others I've read touch on a few critical points, but lacked the depth to understand much of their thinking.

    I do see that while Gamelin was the critical decision maker for specific items in French performance the role of Georges & his staff must be understood as well It was largely through the staff of Georges HQ that Gamelin had his understanding of what his army groups were capable of and the possible shape of stratigic and mid level opertions in NW Europe. Gamelin & his staff were responsible for global strategy & depended on Georges for the bulk of planning and execution on the North Western Front.

    There were also some items which the French politicians are responsible for. Were Belgium a active ally Dalidier & Renaud would have a crtical role in setting policy for interallied cooperation, as they did with Britian. I also suspect that with Belgium as a active ally Dalidiers disatisfation with Gamelin may have come earlier & his planned purge of French military leaders been executed sooner.
     
  4. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2002
    Messages:
    22,301
    Likes Received:
    1,050
    Location:
    Kotka,Finland
    http://www.ww2f.com/what-if/11869-w...-attack-through-low-countries.html#post140590

    A site discussing among other things Gamelin´s thoughts on the Ardennes area.

    It seems that at least:

    1. he believed the area would slow down the Germans if they tried to attack there so that there would be plenty of time to react

    2. Supply to the troops would be impossible or very poor leading to the attack´s collapse by itself
     
  5. tikilal

    tikilal Ace

    Joined:
    Jun 12, 2007
    Messages:
    1,133
    Likes Received:
    66
    Like Carl said the defensive focus of France and England was teh dyle plan. They were very serious abou tit to the point that they proposed invading Belgium to be able to move there men into position before the Germans attacked.

    Had the Dutch and Belgians been ready and allied with the Allies. I think (ie IMO) the outcome would have been different. Follow me here. The Holland can hold its own for a while the English and French and Belgians create and deploy into their defensive zone. While the German attacks would ahve begun as they did the results would have been different even if the intial line was broken the Dyle line (a canal) would have been prepared as a fall back position. The Germans historically beat the allies to this line and crossed relativily unmolested. Had there been a defense here when the hammer came from the ardense The allies might have been in a position to send the British south to cut off the penatration.

    If this had been achieved the whole attack would have fallen apart. Every engagement of German armor with that of France or Britian was a technical loss. More German tanks were destoyed and the Germans only held the field because the enemy retreated. The 88s were needed against the British and French. I am not saying that the French leadership would have changed too much but with perhaps a few minor victories the French would have eased into the war a bit more before the panzers emerged from the forest.

    On another note, the French planes did well against the Germans to the point that one on one combat was forbiden. Local air resistance was destroyed along the Frontier but not the whole French airforce until much latter. The English were sending Hurricans over too that were quite useful.
     
  6. John Dudek

    John Dudek Member

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2001
    Messages:
    395
    Likes Received:
    36
    Agreed. Had the fully mobilized Dutch and Belgian armies been positioned along their frontiers, in well fortified positions and supplied with nearly a year's worth of war production of new arms and aircraft to back them, the war in the west might have taken a completely different turn.
     
  7. urqh

    urqh Tea drinking surrender monkey

    Joined:
    Dec 23, 2002
    Messages:
    9,683
    Likes Received:
    953
    I'm lucky enough to have a copy of Gamelins own biography, but I am aware of his shall we say grievances on his own nations views of his role at the time so much is glossed over.
    But might be worth me looking at again. The one thing I wouldnt touch with a barge pole Carl...is May...Then again Gamelins work could be looked on as fiction I suppose.

    Thanks for info though.
     
  8. urqh

    urqh Tea drinking surrender monkey

    Joined:
    Dec 23, 2002
    Messages:
    9,683
    Likes Received:
    953
    Tikilal, but arent we presuming that the allies would be already deployed into their defensive zone. Thats the whole crux. If Belgium and Holland were allied and not neutral we wouldnt be deploying into that zone at time of attack and Holland wouldnt be holding its own as we would already be at the Dyle.
     
  9. Carl W Schwamberger

    Carl W Schwamberger Ace

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2007
    Messages:
    1,051
    Likes Received:
    81
    I feel silly for not thinking of this sooner:eek: "A completly different turn" will occur at the start.

    Consider the effect on German strategy & deployment in August 1939 if they know the Belgians and Dutch are very likely to declare war. Army Group C - 'Leebs Museum'- was barely adaquate to screen the German French border in Septmenber 1939. Place yoursef in Halders position as the Dutch/Belgian armys begain preliminary mobilization at the end of August, and French liasion officers cross the border by the trainload, while RAF officers show up inspecting the airfields and measuring runways. Extending the Allies to the North Sea extends the frontier German must screen by over 200 kilometers. While a full scale Allied offensive from Liege to the Ruhr - 50 km, is unlikely its unthinkable that the border be left uncovered. So how many divsions must be diverted from the East and the attack on Poland to cover the frontier against a Allied raid into Achaen or to the Rhine? While Halder & the other senior German leaders may have some confidence the Allies could or would not spring instantly into the attack they cannot be certain. Neither can they expect the allies to sit quietly into October while the Germans try to subjugate Poland. Remember in the last week of August 1939 no one knew the Poles would collapse in three weeks. German military leaders were predicting resistance into late October, November, or even beyond the new year. The idea that the entire German ary would be free to rush back to the West on October 1st does not seem to have been on the table.

    So, as Halder what would you tell Hitler about how his armys should be deployed?
     
  10. Carl W Schwamberger

    Carl W Schwamberger Ace

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2007
    Messages:
    1,051
    Likes Received:
    81
    Yer welcome. What are your thoughts on "May"?

    I'd never had the curiosity to search out Gamelins book. It is not in English translation is it? Probablly be more usefull to read his memos, letters, orders, & other official/personal correspondence while he held the top posts. I am not up to the task of sifting through that much French language, but if it has not already been done a summary of all that would be 'interesting'.
     
  11. Asterix

    Asterix Member

    Joined:
    Dec 14, 2007
    Messages:
    104
    Likes Received:
    20
    Gentlemen - The question of Belgium's neutrality is a question I've often pondered myself with a certain degree of interest. I've read your responses, and I would like to add my opinion that even if Belgium had decided undergo a massive rearmament and mobilzation program on her own accord, I do not believe the final outcome would have been much different, except for a prolongation of the 1940 Blitz, and higher casualty rates among German forces. My reasons for this, is primarily the pre-war apprehension of antagonizing Hitler's Germany with any appearance of a sudden emphasis in improving Belgium's defenses with men, weapons, and fortifications, a worry which did exist and was very real. Belgium has long understood the tendencies of invading armies to violate her borders because of the favorable fighting terrains on her soil. Whether or not Begium would undergo such defensive change on her own, I do not believe this would have led to a change in Belgium's stance towards the French and British. It would be one thing to guard her own borders, quite another to do so in conjuction with French and British planning. Therefore I believe that Belgium's actions would have been more independent-minded rather than anything mutual with the French/UK alliance. Even with a minor defensive pact with Holland, Hitler's Germany would not have been so alarmed. However, a pact with the French and British could have led Hitler to invade Belgium and the Lowlands first (instead of Poland) before the Allies could take advantage of this new alliance.

    Therefore, I'm forced to conclude that in spite of a massive Belgian move toward militarism in anticipation of a German invasion, I do not believe this would have translated into an automatic or guaranteed co-operation and co-ordination with French and British military planners. In this scenario, the French and BEF forces would have still found themselves waiting for permission to cross through the France-Belgian frontier only after an invasion of Belgium would have occured, which in fact, is what really happened under auspices of Belgian neutrality.
     
    urqh likes this.
  12. Carl W Schwamberger

    Carl W Schwamberger Ace

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2007
    Messages:
    1,051
    Likes Received:
    81
    Ah yes, another fork. A indecisive Belgian government could take half measures & although the downside may be obvious in backsight, ... "...Belgium's actions would have been more independent-minded rather than anything mutual with the French/UK alliance." may have made sense at the moment. a sort of last minute commitment to supporting Poland might lead to such a outcome.

    If the French alliance system of the 1920s, the 'Little Entente' evolves in the other direction rather than disintigrating & French/Belgian military cooperation remains strong then early reinforcement of Belgium is much more likely.
     
  13. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

    Joined:
    Jul 31, 2002
    Messages:
    22,301
    Likes Received:
    1,050
    Location:
    Kotka,Finland
    Anybody know the figures how much money France put into the Maginot line and how this both politically and money wise was out of the total budget for building up the French army in a different way? If it was considered the Maginot line will stop the enemy you don´t need fancy new tactics and planes. This definitely also leads to some kinda "military coma" where new methods won´t be looked for that easily.And like said the Maginot line needs money to keep it in shape which is out of the budget for other military developments.

    I recall there was also the British politics " ten years time for war" which meant once the first signs came up you still had ten years to prepare for war.
     
  14. Miguel B.

    Miguel B. Member

    Joined:
    Jun 3, 2008
    Messages:
    956
    Likes Received:
    67
    Basically the maginot line was a phantom of past warfare. It had no place in the (more or less) mobile warfare of WWII. I agree with fellow posters that say that from Belgium not keeping it's neutrality to a "free" alliance with the French is a long stretch. I see it colaborating more with Netherlands and still, this would be rather limited. Plus, regardless of how german industry was, Belgium and Netherlands couldn't compare in terms of weapons production to the germans. I think this would end up still in defeat as Belgium also had forts and were more than happy to follow the French doctrine of letting the enemy come and cope with them in choke points where they held strong positions. The only difference was the number of material available tough I don't believe overall quality would improve. Like Kai said, forts were time and money consumers. So, you'd have to relinquish certain areas of the armed forces in order to maintain a strong fortification system. Germany did this same mistake in northern europe. And as the war on the east would soon show, interlocking fire positions allowing for mobility were much more efficient. Murphy's law: if you make it too hard for the enemy to come in, it's too hard for you to get out!
    Does anyone has the figures on how much concrete and steel were required for the fortifications of that day?




    Cheers...
     
  15. urqh

    urqh Tea drinking surrender monkey

    Joined:
    Dec 23, 2002
    Messages:
    9,683
    Likes Received:
    953
    Your supposed to be the maths/science guru....one parat sand 2 parts water...multiply that by number of buckets and width by lengh allowing for an error of maybe half a mile, and bobs yer uncle....Can you work that one out and get back to us Miguel?
     
  16. urqh

    urqh Tea drinking surrender monkey

    Joined:
    Dec 23, 2002
    Messages:
    9,683
    Likes Received:
    953
    The wifes, of good French stock....And my own isnt too bad.

    Dont get me started on May...Well I'll just make sure, I'm hunting him down on bookshelf tonight...I'll get back to you.
     
  17. Carl W Schwamberger

    Carl W Schwamberger Ace

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2007
    Messages:
    1,051
    Likes Received:
    81
    Yes, I have Kemps book on the subject, Horne, and a early 1970s magazine artical. It will take a few hours to sort those out & summarize for a post. I can say the cost of the fotifications was less than the critics claim and the trade off in other forms of combat power not a great either. Others like Doughty show how replacing with some other 'Effective' form of military power requires a major shift in French social dynamics and political landscape. The decision to build fortifications derived from the same thinking that precluded building a standing rapid response force such as DeGaulle & others argued.
     
  18. urqh

    urqh Tea drinking surrender monkey

    Joined:
    Dec 23, 2002
    Messages:
    9,683
    Likes Received:
    953
    Yep it is May I have problems with, I've just retrieved his Strange Victory from one of my bookcases...that was job on its own....I cant get door open...

    I'll have to re skirmish the book, but I'm a constant margin writer and this one obviously pushed my pen to limits as its full of ink.

    I do though remember one thing...He bases his wrtiing in it on perceptions, as most do, no harm in that...but one thing he makes a big deal out of is this supposed war game re enactment on computer that had the whole battle of France remodelled and we are supposed to take that as fact...When in facat I had the game he talks of...it was the biggies piece of rubbish software for early wargaming on spectrums and commodores etc that I have come across...I could have had Russian winnng the battle of France in 1940 on that thing. But he makes out it supports his theories, which is what inittally attracted my questioning on his theories.
     
  19. urqh

    urqh Tea drinking surrender monkey

    Joined:
    Dec 23, 2002
    Messages:
    9,683
    Likes Received:
    953
    Damn, I hate that book....its not all bad, but he's contradicting himself too much.

    On one hand he states the Allied command was not as bad as portrayed by others, then 3 chapters on he's telling us the allied command was err....not quite as good as it should have been. I'm writing in margins again.

    The computer simulation he bases the re working of the battle on was in fact a game called The Big 3 as it appeared on pc.

    Hardly a testemant to simulations of the period, but a good game if your computer chess software is virused.

    I won one time by being Sweden. Although the Soviets put up a good fight.
     
  20. Carl W Schwamberger

    Carl W Schwamberger Ace

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2007
    Messages:
    1,051
    Likes Received:
    81
    I'll have to get Strange Victory off the shelf again. What chapter is the computer game discussed? I read the refrences to the games of test exercises Halder had regularly at his HQ near Zossen. Horne & everyone else refers to the seminal December game. But May also remarks on the German map exercises during the winter and in March.

    The main thing I got out May was filling in details on the development of the German strategy and the search for something that would give a small chance of a decisive victory. The role of the inteligence services is mentioned more than most historians, specifically the tiny group 'Forigen Armys West' (LtCol List). I did not give much thought to his remarks on the French army since the focus was on the German thinking.
     

Share This Page