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Dutch and Belgian Forces 1940

Discussion in 'Prelude to War & Poland 1939' started by yan taylor, Jun 9, 2011.

  1. yan taylor

    yan taylor Member

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    Hi, reading about the Belgian and Dutch Armies prior to the German attack in 1940, was there any real attempt to join forces instead of fighting as individuals, or did each nation stick to its own game plan and hope for the best, I know the French and British were there, but was that the main fault, that each nation was not singing from the same hymn sheet.
    Regards Yan.
     
  2. Skipper

    Skipper Kommodore

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    I read that after May 17th some Dutch forces were sent from Zealand to the Belgian coast but their presence was disturbing for other forces. Some belgians and French even thought they were Germans. The occupation of Belgium and Holland was too fast to allow any furhther attempts. However some defeated Belgians soldiers moved to France in order to avoid capture, many were captured in France after the fall of France, some made it to the UK. There must have been some Dutch too because it is quite easy to spot a Dutch or Belgian army helmet in Northhern France , mostly forgotten in barns. (my two Dutch helmets and a Belgian one all come from northern France)
     
  3. fredleander

    fredleander Member

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    Very little cooperation. I am afraid it wouldn't have made much difference under the circumstances. The Allies (France, GB) tried to get the Belgian to cooperate before the onslaught but they would only go as far as to let the Allies unofficially reconnoitre positions inside Belgium. If the British and French had been positioned inside Belgium at the time of the attack the effect of the German left swing would only have had even better effect. But, who could know that.
     
  4. yan taylor

    yan taylor Member

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    Its an interesting topic, if the French and British would have moved a force into these Countries in strength, leaving the Northern and eastern side of France less defended and giving the fact that the Germans attacked through the Ardennes, they could have cut off even more troops, I dont think the BEF had enough men to act on both fronts, given the fact that the attack in the Ardennes was a complete surprize.
    Regards Yan.
     
  5. Skipper

    Skipper Kommodore

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    The move to Belgian in May 1940 wasn't such a bad idea, in fact drawing a line from the maginot line to about half of Belgium would have made the front line shorter. The attempt to secure the whole of Belgium and even move towards Holland was a big mistake though, it stretched the lines beyond reasonable and weakened the Ardennes front . The best troops were too far away from Sedan , not to mention that other elite troops had already been sent to Narvik and would only return in June.
     
  6. yan taylor

    yan taylor Member

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    Did the French and British have a proper defence line with dug in guns and trenches or was it a flexable line of defence, I cannot find any data of German troops actually storming Allied lines only quick break through attacks and forcing the Allies back to prevent them being out flanked, I cant see that the French and British holding a strong position with 47mm & 2 pdr ATGs with Artillery support being smashed by German forces without the Germans suffering massive casualties in both men and armour.
    Regards Yan.
     
  7. Skipper

    Skipper Kommodore

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    The Maginot line did not go further west than Lorraine, but several defence bunkers existed elswhere, nothing comparable with the eastern bunkers though. The Dutch had a defence line along the Ijjsel River then a last stand postiton one going from Amsterdam to Utrecht. The harbour of Rotterdam was defended with guns facing the sea, so they wer useless.

    The Belgians had a belt of fortresses (Liege, Eben-Emael and others) which fortified the Albert Canal .The trouble was that the French counted on the Ardennes (both the Belgian and French ones to act as a natural defence line, but the Germans got through.

    What is a less know fact is that the Maginot line was also severly attacked at some places. Check for the Battle of Stonne for instance.
     
  8. yan taylor

    yan taylor Member

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    Wow Skipper the Battle of Stonne seems more larger then the Battle of Arass, with various tank v tank battles, which battle was it when a German Armoured column stumbled across a field full of Char Bs re-fueling and vicious battle ensued.
     
  9. Skipper

    Skipper Kommodore

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    Glad you like Stonne Yan, maybe I should start a special thread for this Battle that is for some reason almost forgotten by history.
    A better know battle worth investigating is Gembloux in Belgium , there are quite a few threads about this battle on the forum.
    also the defence of Lille is worth reading about. Many brave soldiers sacrified ther lives there so that Dunkirk could be evacuated on time.
     
  10. yan taylor

    yan taylor Member

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    I would like to get involved in any new thread you wish to start on this subject Skipper, there is more to this campaign that I thought.
    Regards Yan.
     
  11. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    I guess the biggest problem was that there was no strategic reserves for the Allied and could not answer the German attack in the flank. And also if I recall correctly the Germans would have ran out of ammo in 4-6 weeks so they were in a hurry to end campaign. If the Germans could have been stopped the Wehrmacht was bound to "lose" the war after two months as they had no ammo to continue a major campaign...What a weird war situation it could have been for the Germans: winning,winning,winning,losing,losing,losing..
     
  12. yan taylor

    yan taylor Member

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    When you look at it, it was a great military feat by the Germans, the low countries was laced with canals ect, and things could have stalled, the Maginot line could have held them up also, but the Ardennes was the weak point and the Allies failed to spot this, due to the fact they thought it was not the right sort of ground for motorised formations, but again the Germans saw it different, as I said it was a great military feat, considering what happen 26 years earlier.
    Regards Yan.
     
  13. VolksGrenadier44

    VolksGrenadier44 Member

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    It was quite a tough Military choice in the late 30's and early 40's: Join the Allies for better protection but be almost certain Germany would invade or don't join and have little defence but less chance of German invasion. I still think from a political standpoint that the wise move was to protect your people and join the Allies. The German's were very agressive with their Blitzkrieg but it was not Certain that invasion would occur and if it did, you may be able to repel the German's. I do understand that a full German force using Blitzkrieg could destroy almost any military early and before the war if it used a well planned Blitzkrieg however, if you are a low country like Belguim then I do belive Germany would not waste too many resources on seizing the country. As for the joining the Dutch and Belgians I also think this would be a wise idea. If a country is seized then the remaining troops could be mixed with another Faction's troops to help Counter-attack.


    Just some thoughts.
     
  14. phylo_roadking

    phylo_roadking Member

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    That's the rather traditional and simplistic view of things - there were considerable covert liaisons with the Belgians, starting far earlier than Sir Roger Keyes' sojourn in Brussels...

    As for reconnoitering postions - the British and French were never allowed to see the positions the Belgians assured them were prepared for them along the Dyle...

    The underground Maginot Line didn't - but the above-ground Line continued to the sea; this was the long line of defences the BEF had helped to construct through the winter of 1939-40, and that Rommel scythed through in three hours.

    The Belgians ALSO had a major set of defence works called the K-W Line; an ellipse of bunkers within interlocking MG range, fronted by anti-tank fencing, that protected the Northern urban centres; at it's southernmost point, in the middle of the Line, a long extension headed south down half the length of the country, to end around Wavre - it was the junction there with the French deployment plans that the BEF was positioned to protect.

    The Southern extension of the K-W Line was the same as the northern ellipse - MG bunkers fronted by antitank fencing...but it also ran along various rivers and valley bottoms that had bneen re-engineered to permit flooding of lowlaying areas in front of the antitank fencing. The Line wasn't manned - it was deisgned to be a fallback position, that the Belgian Army would occupy if driven back from Eastern Belgium.

    The antitank fencing and flood defences originally headed on South past the end of the bunker line...across the front of the planned French positions in the Gembloux Gap. Unfortunately, the Belgians had interfered with the original line of the antitank fencing several times since the outbreak of war, and when the French arrived they found sections completely dismantled, others reassembled only in stretches, and in many places the fencing had been moved back from the flooding defences - so far as to render both elements useless as a cohesive obstacle to attackers.

    Therefore - when the French (and British) arrived and found that the promised defensive positions were far less impressive than they had been promised, the French in particular were forced to displace westwards to a degree, to the next most feasibly-defended terrain....of which there wasn't actually that much in the Central Belgian Plain!
     
  15. phylo_roadking

    phylo_roadking Member

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    This is another traditional myth; the possibilities of the Ardennes had been spotted and publicised by Liddell-Hart years earlier...and Gamelin was perfectly aware of the weak point - he'd had a group of officers inspect the area - and been told that such an operation was feasible, but he decided he wasn't in a point to do anything about it at that point.

    It's worth noting that Belgium had been a FULL military partner of the British/French right up to 1935-36, under the Locarno Pact provisions...but at that point a massive domestic political row erupted over porposed increased military spoending - and it paralysed Belgian government for months; in the end, to cut through the impasse, King Leopold had declared Belgium officially Neutral....and thus save on part of the country's great military burden....

    BOTH Britain and France however declared that they would still stand by their Locarno Pact undertakings to defend Belgium...hence their continued plans to deploy into Belgium! The late '30s situation in Belgium was that it would STILL be defended by the Western Allies...it just didn't regard itself as an ally of them for some years!

    (It was the compromise military budget that was THEN passed that allowed the Belgians to build the K-W Line, slowly update its air force etc....)
     
  16. scipio

    scipio Member

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    I believe or least I have read than the French High Command were not so worried about a breakthrough in the Ardennes because they thought that they would have adequate time (seem to remember that they postulated up to 10 days) to nip off any incursion and almost welcomed this since they thought they would have been able to bag a lot of Germans in the trap - very much WW1 thinking.

    A major problem was the French were always too concerned with the Flanks - for example Reinhardt (one of the three Panzer groups - the other two being Rommel and Guderian) was being held successfully from crossing the Meuse but with Rommel and Guderian making progress on either side of them, this group was ordered to withdraw. This turned into a major rout and with a virtually unopposed crossing Reinhardt rushed through to achieve the longest penetration of any of the Panzer Groups. In this early stage it would have been far better for the French forces to stay and fight even if surrounded. This would have given more time to get armour and artillery to the halt the German attack.

    Stonne is certainly remembered by the French. And there was plenty of bravery on both sides - can't remember how many time the village changed hands but it was a lot. However, Guderian had tasked 10 Panzer to attack in their sector (active defence as he calls it) to protect his flank. There never was any German intention of pushing further. Still the French actions here make you suspect that if they had sealed the Ardenne gap and prevent the Panzer charge then the outcome of the Battle of France might have been different.
     
  17. Kevin Kenneally

    Kevin Kenneally Member

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    Is there a link to the actual Order of Battle for the Dutch and Belgium forces before the invasion by the Germans?

    Thanks in advance.
     
  18. LRusso216

    LRusso216 Graybeard Staff Member

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  19. Cas

    Cas Member

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    HTML:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_the_Grebbeberg
    See this link on the main battle in Holland in mai 1940

    HTML:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_the_Netherlands
    and this contains the info on the battle in 1940
     
  20. jackmarkn

    jackmarkn recruit

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    The move to Belgian in May 1940 wasn't such a bad idea, in fact drawing a line from the maginot line to about half of Belgium would have made the front line shorter.
     

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