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

What if France and England actualy attacked?

Discussion in 'What If - European Theater - Western Front & Atlan' started by tomflorida, Oct 26, 2011.

  1. tomflorida

    tomflorida Member

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2011
    Messages:
    215
    Likes Received:
    23
    I have wondered this for many years. What if The Brits and the French actually attacked Germany inSept 1939? Without looking up numbers, but as I recall the French had 10:1 ratio of division as well as heavy armour, tanks and aircraft. And we all know the British Navy was far superior to the German Navy in 1939. Is it possible that the war would have been over before it even started?
     
  2. CAC

    CAC Ace of Spades

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2010
    Messages:
    6,111
    Likes Received:
    937
    Finally an interesting and even feasible what if...Germany was gearing up for war for a number of years...Brit/Fran had not...France relying on the magenot line, Britain on France and being an island...and its reputation...I think if the RAF stationed ALL their aircraft and ferried all new aircraft to France, stationed all the men Britain had and its equipment...They still would have lost! : ) hehe...The phoney war ended up being no phoney...remember Dunkirk...what lessons were learned there? Why was France so easily invaded and Britain so easily driven back...there lies your answer.
     
  3. tomflorida

    tomflorida Member

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2011
    Messages:
    215
    Likes Received:
    23
    Yes I remember Dunkirk, but that was 8 months after invasion of Poland. Germany had lost a lot more heavy equipment, aircraft and men then predicted. The western borders were vastly undermened and ill-equipted. I believe that France had over a million men and the British had a hunderd thousand. It seems that if France and Britain had a leader with guts, Berlin would have been overrun by the Brits and French. Granted Poland had no chance against Germany, especially with Russia invading from the East, but they would have easily tied up a 1/3 of Germany's men power, especially if Russia never invaded. Plus I don't think Stalin would have dared to invade, if France and Britain started to "fire" in Sept 1939. Also, with France and Britain "poking" at the Western borders and Polish Underground on the Eastern borders, I don't think Germany would have taken over Nether., Belg., Norw, etc. Thus less economic resources, thus less weapons. Personlly I dont think Germany would have takenover Europe. The war would have been contained and finished within a year. I guess the French forgot just what war is and tried to ignore it. I guess Poland expieranced the western Betrayal and the French and British people were betrayed by their own leaders.
     
  4. CAC

    CAC Ace of Spades

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2010
    Messages:
    6,111
    Likes Received:
    937
    You make a good case mate...! It seems absurd only becasue of the complete LACK of interest in a war (was it chamberlin or Wilson , or someone! who came back a hero waving the non aggression treaty??) Shows how much Britain didnt want to go to war...maybe your answer lies there...I think if Britain and France could see the future and KNOW what was to come, they certainly could have blunted Germany's efforts for the future, but maybe at their own expense weakening them, other countries unwilling and unable financially to contribute...i dont think it would have been over in a year...Germany was too set on their path...but i think it would have ended Germany's chances before they began...Hmmm...on one hand it was NEVER going to happen...on the other...it could of as you say...
    What say others?
     
  5. LJAd

    LJAd Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2009
    Messages:
    4,997
    Likes Received:
    235
    This has been discusses already countless times,but :
    1)The French had NO superiority,not on tanks,not on artillery, not on aircraft .
    2)The BEF was not operational on 1 september :the first British units arrived in France at the end of september
    3)That the Navy was superior to the Kriegsmarine is totally irrelevant for the possibility of a French attack on the Maginot line .
    4) The most important :the French actually attacked Germany in september 1939,they were keeping their promise to attack with the majority of their available forces .
     
  6. scipio

    scipio Member

    Joined:
    Jul 8, 2011
    Messages:
    652
    Likes Received:
    122
    But in 1939 Germany was fighting on two fronts - well only one because France just tickled them in the Saar. It was not a serious attack.

    Remember what Jodl said about the Seigfreid Line at Nuremburg - It was not a Line, it was a building site defended by seven Divisions. His opinion and mine is that France could have swept through to the Rhine without a problem.
     
  7. LJAd

    LJAd Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2009
    Messages:
    4,997
    Likes Received:
    235
    Jodl was wrong
    1)The West Front was not his business
    2)It only was an attempt to shift the guilt for the wat to the Allies :if they had attacked,the war was over :rolleyes:
    The following figures are from The Armchair General Forum (Thread:10 moments that changed the course of war),by The Purist .
    German OoB in the Saar (12 september 1939):16 divisions
    French Forces that took part in the Saar Attack,or were available :12 divisions
    French mobilisation plan (for ALL fronts):
    9 september :41 divisions
    19 september :83 divisions
    Situation on 24 september :North-East and Jura :56 divisions
     
    scipio likes this.
  8. Tristan Scott

    Tristan Scott Member

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2008
    Messages:
    168
    Likes Received:
    41
    Yes, by '39 it was too late.

    IMO their best bet would have been in 1936 when the Germans remilitarized the Rhineland. Unfortunately the French were in no position politically to retaliate although their army could have easily turned the Germans back, which could have damaged Hitler's hold on power.
     
    Gromit801, belasar and brndirt1 like this.
  9. Carronade

    Carronade Ace Patron  

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2010
    Messages:
    2,435
    Likes Received:
    417
    There was a very narrow window of opportunity. The crucial fighting in Poland was over in three weeks; there was little to prevent the Germans shifting some forces to the west if they needed to. They had interior lines, excellent railroads, and the new autobahns. Air power could rapidly be redeployed; bombers in central Germany could intervene on either front if necessary, although ideally they would shift closer to their targets.

    The Franco-German border region was good defensive terrain, even if the French army had been inclined towards rapid attack. If the Allies only start planning and mobilizing on the outbreak of war, September 1 or 3, it seems unlikely that they could develop a serious threat before the Germans were able to react.

    The only way I seem them having a chance to intervene effectively is if they had started serious preparations at the time they made their guarantee to Poland, including deploying a British Expeditionary Force in whatever strength they could, including an air component. Aside from the practical aspects, that would give credibility to the guarantee for French, British, Polish, and German minds alike.
     
  10. DogFather

    DogFather Member

    Joined:
    Dec 18, 2008
    Messages:
    224
    Likes Received:
    5
    My understanding is that France lacked the political stability, to wage a major war. France was also still shocked from the
    heavy losses of WW1. There was no enthusiasum for another major war. The British people also did not want another war.

    Chamberlin's policy of Appeasement, was very popular in GB (Great Britain), after the Munich conference. GB did not
    want another war either, and her army was not perpared for one. The Royal Navy was strong, but that was not
    going to stop Nazi Germany. GB also had a vast empire to protect, with her navy scattered around the world.
    With GB having a large empire and long vulnerable shipping lines, bringing her necessary things like food, she was in a
    difficult situation.

    Although Chamberlin is now associated with a naive and failed foregin policy, he was doing what the British people wanted
    at the time, which was staying out of war.

    The Magenot line was a waste of resources. The Germans had a plan to go north of the line, south of the line and
    right through the middle, with special built heavy artillary.

    So, I think it is correct to say, the only chance GB and France had to stop Hitler was in 1936. But at that time, nobody
    understood what a mad man he was and nothing was done about it. The Treaty Versailles was very harsh on Germany.
    I think this is part of the reason, nothing about Hitler was done, until after he invaded Poland.

    The League of Nations, did nothing about Italy's or Japan's aggression, during the 1930s. This all set the stage for a major
    war.
     
  11. Slipdigit

    Slipdigit Good Ol' Boy Staff Member WW2|ORG Editor

    Joined:
    May 21, 2007
    Messages:
    17,289
    Likes Received:
    2,027
    Location:
    Alabama
    For all intents and purposes this is worded as a What If and should have been created in that forum to be approved for discussion.

    Since it already has legs and is not the usual "How could Germany win" type What Ifs, I'll let it continue.

    Keep it in the realm of factual discussion.
     
  12. tomflorida

    tomflorida Member

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2011
    Messages:
    215
    Likes Received:
    23
    I understand this is a what if, I didn't know there was a what if forum. Sorry.
    Bu here is how a see it. And I know I don't have much as far as numbers of divisions, weapons, bridge heads, etc. Please understand that there so many what if's, but my mind wondered over this for years. But here is the way I think the war might have happaned. If England deployed it Navy ASAP and headed toward the Port Of Gdynia, were the first shots were fired, they could have destroyed the German ships. This might have send a signal to Stalin that England is very serious about protecting Poland. Thus Russian might have not attacked. If that is so, then the Polish army could have retreated and regrouped behing Vistula and be more of a threat. Every one says Poalnd was done in three weeks, but a big part of that was the Russian invasion. This would pull Germany much further east and not be able to retreat back and fight the French. Now the war is raging deep inside Poland, with the French attacking from the West. Now we don't have Germany invading Neth, Belg and Dem., or not yet. Just how much gold and resources did Germany gain from those three. Take that out of the equation and we have different Germany. This gives those three more time to prepare for war and be able to put up a fight against Germany. As times goes by England and France is getting more prepared. And by now the political view may be changing as the French and English see that war is simply at their foosteps. It seems that the German war machine grew exponentially in 1940 since it was almost unchallenged. I feel that the first 6-12 months of the war, Germany grew so strong that it took US and Russian resources to beat Germany. But if the Allies were able to slow down the growth, the war would have ended much sooner. Anyway, sorry for the basic thoughts and logic, but obviously there is no need for details in what if's, as there is an infinite number of details. Just general thoughts.
     
  13. LJAd

    LJAd Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2009
    Messages:
    4,997
    Likes Received:
    235
    1)The Royal Navy going to Gdynia would be suicidal
    2)When the Russians were intervening(17 september),Poland was already defeated
    3)That the German war machine grew exponentially in 1940,is questionable ;exemple :the aircraft and tank production was much bigger in 1943 and 1944.
    4)That it was almost unchallenged, also is questionable:the Germans lost 150.000 men in may/june,the KM was out idem for the airborne units,the LW was very weakened.
     
  14. tomflorida

    tomflorida Member

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2011
    Messages:
    215
    Likes Received:
    23
    Thanks for your input LJAD. I guess being Polish I sent countless hours thinking what if. In a way no one could have stopped Germany early on. Poland did not have the economic power to build up its's military, and you know that the West would have prevented Poland from building up too much, since they did not want to upset Hitler. I'm sure tha England, France, Poland and everyone had spies in Germany and told their supperiors just how strong Hitler's army was growing, but it fell on deaf ears. Actualy you didnt need spies, everyone new it. Still, call me stubborn, but it seems to me that the Germany Army would not have rolled through Europe so easily if Engalnd and France actually fought a real war not a phony one.
     
  15. Slipdigit

    Slipdigit Good Ol' Boy Staff Member WW2|ORG Editor

    Joined:
    May 21, 2007
    Messages:
    17,289
    Likes Received:
    2,027
    Location:
    Alabama
    Alternate History
     
  16. macrusk

    macrusk Proud Daughter of a Canadian WWII Veteran

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2007
    Messages:
    2,801
    Likes Received:
    556
    Location:
    Saskatoon
    I strongly recommend that you read Winston Churchill`s The Gathering Storm which provides much information regarding the worldwide political and military situation leading up to 1939. The only caveat is realizing that some secrets such as Enigma could not be revealed by him at the time he wrote. It is interesting to read the writing of a major political figure of the War Years who was also a scholar and historian. He knew that it would matter to us in the future to know how the war came about and the events during the war - although I`ve not got to those books yet.

    In my opinion one of the major flaws of the Allies at the start of the war was the false belief that the Belgian borders would not be overrun again as they were in WWI. Another issue is the difference between Germany`s tactical use of tanks versus that of the Allies. The Germans saw it as an offensive weapon, whereas the Allies - at least in 1939 - saw it as a defensive weapon. The Allies also did not support tanks with infantry - a flaw that would still be an issue at various points throughout the War.
     
  17. Carronade

    Carronade Ace Patron  

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2010
    Messages:
    2,435
    Likes Received:
    417
    The French were not unaware of the possibility of another attack through Belgium; indeed construction of the Maginot Line almost forced the Germans to consider other options. In the interwar years the French sought to plan jointly with the Belgians but were stymied by the latters' policy of strict neutrality. As soon as war broke out in 1939 they began developing the Dyle Plan, while the Belgians began building fortifications including the famous "Belgian Gates" along the Dyle line. The errors were assuming that an attack through Belgium would replicate the Schlieffen Plan of WWI and not retaining reserves and operational flexibility to deal with other eventualities.

    The French - and British - expected to use tanks offensively, but in close cooperation with infantry and artillery much as in WWI - an all-arms concept, but geared to the pace of advance of the footsoldier, and with large armies attacking in mass. What most of the leadership did not anticipate was the potential of a relatively small, fully motorized all-arms force operating semi-independently. The mobile armored units they did have, the Divisions Legere Mechanique which were comparable to panzer divisions, were employed in the classic cavalry role of screening the advance of the main army. Similarly their cavalry divisions - half tanks, half horsemen - were in the Ardennes, where they could actually have been effective, delaying the German advance and providing warning to the main armies, had the French command been able to take advantage of them.
     
  18. Oktam

    Oktam Member

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2011
    Messages:
    40
    Likes Received:
    2
    The route the war would take would be significantly different and in the interest of the UK and France. Later historians would describe it as a middle sized European conflict and keep "World War 2" for a potential escalation more worthy of that title. ;)
     
  19. leccy1

    leccy1 Member

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2011
    Messages:
    266
    Likes Received:
    23
    Britain had no Army to speak of to send anywhere in 1939 and most certainly no continental force. It had started re-equipment in 1936 and geared up more in 1938 but until 1939 most money was spent on re-building the RAF with the RN second and the Army getting what was left (In 1938 to build a continental army with all supporting arms would cost 80million pounds, the government alloted the army 40million then cut it to 20million).
    The first British (and only) armoured division went to France in May 1940 and was without most of its infantry and support units (having only recently been equipped and formed, some tanks had no guns and some even had plywood turrets, while due to the training vehicles used many crews had not operated their new tanks and many gunners had never seen the 2pdr). The majority of armoured vehicles the British had were also Light MkVI tanks which were equivalent to the Pzkpfw I at best.

    3 British Infantry Divisions that fought in 1940 were 'Labour' Divisions that were sent to build defences and complete training they were pretty much divisions in name only (12th, 23rd, 46th), lacking most of their support units, poorly trained and equipped. Of the rest 1st, 2nd (I Corps), 3rd (II Corps) were in the line, 48th and 4th were the reserve respectively for the line Corps. General reserve was the 5th and 50th but many of their units had been sent to Norway, the 42nd and 44th Divs (III Corps) were deployed in depth behind the lines.
    This leaves the 51st Div which never fought with the BEF as it was detached to the French for experience on the Maginot line and the 1st Armoured (mobile field force) which also never fought with the BEF and landed very late, lacking much of its kit and support.

    Most British Divisions were made of hastily called up conscripts (too many were called up to be adequately trained or equipped especially as the reserve Divisions were expanded in number only in 1938 when the Government of the day still refused to fund the equipment for the existing divisions). This highlights one difference between the British and German armies in 1940, Germany had conscription so had a ready pool of trained men it could call on to rapidly expand its army in 1939, the British with its volunteer army had no pool, so had to start training from scratch.

    To Britain between the wars, the RN and defence of the Empire (in a policeman type role) were the over riding priorities, war on the continent was a possibility put off time and time again by the 10 year plan (the assumption in 1919 that no major war would be fought for 10 years, so no re-equipment would be needed for at least that long, unfortunately it was voted back in year after year). When probable war was finally acknowledged priority went to the RAF.

    For the British it was yet another classic case of their politicians promising to their allies and demanding of the forces performance that the politicians had failed to provide the backing and support for. The good old British improvise and muddle through.

    I do not know much about the French forces but I do know that it is a myth that the French had more better tanks than the Germans, Many French tanks (especially the better models with AT weapons instead of the 37mm puteaux gun) were built after 1939, over 600 FT17 were still part of the French tank strength in May 1940.
    They had more tanks (debatable) and they had some better tanks in terms of armour and gun, most however had single man turrets and no radios.
     
  20. LJAd

    LJAd Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2009
    Messages:
    4,997
    Likes Received:
    235
    Well,the FACT is that the French had more tanks :2822,the Germans :2636
    Belgium :50,Britain (on 10 may):308
     

Share This Page