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What if France was prepared for a German attack through the low countries?

Discussion in 'What If - European Theater - Western Front & Atlan' started by reddog2k, Jun 14, 2003.

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  1. reddog2k

    reddog2k Member

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    Do you guys think this would have delayed the Germans long enough that the Russians would have joined the war? Or maybe Hitler might have been overthrown in a military coup? I'd be intrested to hear any possible scenarios.
     
  2. Brad T.

    Brad T. Member

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    Wouldnt have happend. The British never would have went for it and France couldnt stand it alone, If those nations (Belgum, Netherlands) faced reality and joined then there would have been a great chance.
     
  3. Stevin

    Stevin Ace

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    Holland considered itself Neutral, just as in WW1. I must say that the prevailing political thought in Holland at the time was one of not facing reality; We were neutral and we were sure all parties concerned would honor that. Germany (Hitler) had given it solemn vow Germany wouldn't attack Holland!

    Therefor and also, the Dutch armed forces had to make due with guns and weaponary that were way out-dated and sometimes came straight out of WW1. Certainly no match for the mordern German army. (A Dutch army vet from those days told me that his Artillery battery had six WW1 type guns. Three blew up when the first round was fired. They themselves blew up the remaining three and made their way west, finally ending up in France and England.)

    In case of attack (which, that much they DID realise, would come from Germany), the Dutch depened on their defensive line that had helped defend them for centuries; the Dutch Water line; inundate large pieces of country in Central and South Holland. Damn those Paratroopers! The use of these troops rendered the waterlinie useless.

    As a side note; Holland realised that if Germany attacked, the French and especially British would invade Holland to try and stop the German Advance, so some troops were stationed in the south of Holland to counter any Allied intrusion into Holland. Mind you, we were Neutral, so no army would be allowed to enter Holland.

    Besides that, Holland is un-defendable; a popular saying was that the Germans Drove their tanks in top gear, maximum speed towards the German-Dutch border, shifted into neutral when they crossed the border and came to a standstill at the Dutch Northsea coast... Holland is tiny, flat and has no natural defensive possibilities.

    I think it is a wonder we held out for 5 days as it was. At some points the Germans never broke through!

    [ 15. June 2003, 04:02 AM: Message edited by: Stevin Oudshoorn ]
     
  4. Friedrich

    Friedrich Expert

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    Well, France shouldn't have been ready to face an invasion, but to invade Germany herself in September 1939. The German 'Siegfried Line' was not strong enough to hold 150 French divisions plus the BEF... Then there's no need of the Soviet Union getting involved in the war. Maybe a coup downs Hitler and war is shorter, smaller in scale and much less bloodier. France as well had another option which was switching its economy to a full-war one and listening to DeGaulle's ideas. France had more and better tanks than the Germans, so if they would have been deployed in armoured wrists in divisions blindées to counter attack and sweep the German bridgehead at the Meuse or the German flanks of the 'Sichelschnitt' then France would not have been defeated and a long trencher war was not an option. It only would have took more time to defeat the Germans.

    Stevin, why are you so harsh with your fellow countrymen? Remember that Student's paratroopers were repelled and defeated by the Dutch in some spots and that Von Bock's Panzers were unable to move freely in Holland's flat ground... :rolleyes: But the German superiority in men and weaponry was undeniable and it is indeed amazing that the Dutch held five days... But Von Bock's Army Group 'B' was only the 'matador's cloak' and only drove the over-extended French and British far deeper into the trap.
     
  5. Brad T.

    Brad T. Member

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    If the allies crossed the Sigefried Line too early the Germans may have invaded Belgum, and may have outflanked the allies, and hit a very soft underbelly. It would of had to be done in the first month of the war when 80% of the Germans were storming Poland.
     
  6. reddog2k

    reddog2k Member

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    Yes, but it also took France at least a month to mobilize. Because they would not go into battle without their artillery. Another thing that's quite odd is france mobilized to many men(1 in 8 men were mobilized). In doing so they brought major industries to a halt. To deal with this the Government released men need for vital industries, this demoralized men who were not released for the obvious reasons.

    Also the French had tanks and aircraft that were equal to the Gemans, and equal in numbers. But most of them were not used.
     
  7. Friedrich

    Friedrich Expert

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    Correction. The French had MORE and BETTER tanks than the Germans in 1939-1940 and they DID use them. :rolleyes:
     
  8. Jet

    Jet Member

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    Are you sure the French tanks were better Friedrich ? I was under the impression that they were far too slow and they did not have very good armour. I was also under the impression that the French army mostly relied on Horses rather than tanks :confused:
     
  9. reddog2k

    reddog2k Member

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    Yes the french did use their tanks, but they did not use them properly. French tanks were spread out to the battalion level, and were mostly for infantry support. France did have three armored divisions, but they performed poorly against German Panzers due to inferior tactics, and inferior leadership.
     
  10. Jet

    Jet Member

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    The thing about the French tanks was that they fought in platoon strength and in many cases the Germans captured the French tanks intact and many had not fired a shot. So really so few tanks together meant that they were quickly over-powered by the vast number of German tanks.

    This is a good site for French Tanks:

    http://mailer.fsu.edu/~akirk/tanks/france/France-Light.html
     
  11. Friedrich

    Friedrich Expert

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    Of course I am sure. The French had tanks who could easily pierce any German tank of that time. They were faster and some were nearly unpierceable by the German anti-tank guns and tank-guns of the time.

    And yes, the French Army did rely on horses to move their guns and supplies. So DID the Germans! The Germans had 10 armoured divisions and a few other motorised divisions, but the remaining 130 infantry divisions also relied on horses. They actually relied on horses until the end of the war...

    I perfectly know that. But read my statement and I never said they used them CORRECTLY... :rolleyes:

    First, the 'Siegfried Line' wouldn't have hold three days... and with what were the Germans going to invade Belgium and outflank the Allies if 90% of their Army was at Poland and they were facing a full invasion in their territory? :rolleyes:

    They really did not have more men to mobilise. Remember that by 1940 the French had not yet overcome their casualties in WWI. The French did not need a full-war economy then. The only thing they needed was to leave their 'Maginot Line' behind and take the occupy the Rheinland and the Ruhr... and they DID have the capability of doing that.
     
  12. CrazyD

    CrazyD Ace

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    Well, that's enough for me! :rolleyes: :D :D

    Friedrich is right though... the Souma S-35 was actually a really well-made tank. It's only main drawback was that the commander was the only one in the turret- he had to command the tank AND load, aim and fire both the main gun and turret MG. A wee bit overworked...
    There was the Char-B1, too. Really big, but kind of..well... lame. BUt it did have a 75mm howitzer hull front and I think a 37mm turret gun?
    But besides that, I'd say anyway that the S-35 was almost as good as the PZIII and IV of the time.
    Poorly used and commanded... but the tanks were fine.
     
  13. Friedrich

    Friedrich Expert

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    Crazy is right. The Char-B was a very well armoured tank with a 75mm gun and another 45mm gun in a mobile turret. Both guns could knock out any German tank at the time... at least the 75mm one. The 45mm gun could knock out all the German tanks except the Mark IV. But let's remember that Marks IV in France were scarce and that the ill-armoured Marks I, II and 38(t) were not. The Char-B also was relatively mobile for a 32-tons tank in 1940... In the other hand, the Somua S-35 was an incredible machine: fast, reliable, well-armoured and had a good gun. Their main flaw was that the tank commander in both cases had to aim, load, fire the gun and command the tank... if we add that the French crews were not as well trained as the Germans and that the tanks were mostly scattered all over the front... :rolleyes:
     
  14. Stefan

    Stefan Cavalry Rupert

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    As for the french relying on horses, yup, they did. Then again, so did the Germans to a great extent. I agree with what has been said about the French tank tactics, I reckon they could have held the Germans if the British and French had been allowed to establish defensive positions in Belgium to hold back the advance. I agree with what has been said about an advance into Germany, it would have divided the German forces between Poland and the new front. Actually, I get the impression that the best thing the French and BEF could have done would be to move through Belgium to attack Germany, advanced as far as they could and then dug in, thus forcing Germany into a war of attrition in the west which is what the allies were prepared for. It had been estimated that the Germans would be able to hold out for less than 6 months. At the very least this would have shortened the war, I wonder what other conceuences it would have had. Maybe the allies would have allowed the Nazis to remain in power, even if they got rid of Hitler.
     
  15. Friedrich

    Friedrich Expert

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    I agree with you, Stefan about that attrition war you're talking about. And just want to put it this way, talking about the German rely on horses, by 1944 the % of German motorised forces was:

    -90% in Italy
    -60% in France
    -25% in Russia

    :eek:
     
  16. reddog2k

    reddog2k Member

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    In the end the French lost not because of inferior arms, lack of arms, or even the quality of their soldiers. They lost due to a poor command structure.

    Allied forces could have cut Panzergruppe Kliest off from it's support, and forced Germany to a humiliating defeat. The Germans gambled everything on the slowness and incompatence of the Allies and were proved right: France capitulated.
     
  17. Schmidt

    Schmidt Member

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    The France were not exactly up too date, they didn't 'believe' in Blitzkrieg, despite Poland, the soldiers were scared, but the French (and British) High command believed they could hold them off. They were almost unshakenable in saying that the Ardennes forest was totally impassable to tanks. If someone, a french farmer, anyone bothered to look at the forest and say, 'I can fit a tank through there,' then the invasion could of gone alot differently.

    The French did advance, but no further then there fortress wall guns can fire. Plus, the French had lost alot of spirit since World War I and many thought that if they stayed quiet and stood still maybe the German war machine won't come rolling in and capture there country. They thought wrong.
     
  18. Friedrich

    Friedrich Expert

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    And 90% of the German officers believed they were impassable by tanks as well. :rolleyes:
     
  19. Stefan

    Stefan Cavalry Rupert

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    Fair enough really, I reckon they could have if the Germans had played by the rules, I reckon if the allies had managed to set up some kind of defenses and the Germans had not gone through the Ardennes, I suppose that is where the allied plan fell apart though.

    I woulden't be too sure about that, the French were baseing it on experience, after all it was the border of their own country. Like Freddy said, few Germans thought it was passable and really the allies were unlucky because the original plan of 1939 would have sent the German invasion straight into their sights.

    I guess this is where the problem lies, the French and British still seemed to think that if they did not provoke the Germans they would be left alone. As for the advance into the Saarland, I reckon that if that had been pushed a bit harder it could have caused the Germans to divert troops from the Poland campaign and things may have happened very differently. Once again, I think the biggest problem was that the French and British were expecting the Germans to fight by the rules, it was not going to happen.
     
  20. Vermillion

    Vermillion Member

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    This is such a common misconception, it makes myblood boil when I see it stated. (no offense intended by the way) The French did not think the Ardennes was impassable, neither did the Germans. In spring of 1938, the Fremch military conducted an excersis which simulated a German attack through the Ardennes forest. They predicted that the Germans could cross the Ardennes in 60 hours, which is not that much longer than it actually took them in 1940.

    Howeverm Gamelin summed up the French position in 1936 when he stated that the Ardennes "would not support large operations, and would be a secondary front of any assault into France". The road structure, narrow, winding and few, convinced everyone in France that if an offensive were launched through the Ardennes, there would be plenty of time to react, and stop them at the Meuse, kep in mind that the Meuse is at its most difficult to cross in fron of the Ardennes sector. People concentrate too much on the Ardennes ofensive, yes it was an impressive logistical demonstration, but the real achievement was not the offensive, but the nearly inhuman effort the Germans put up in crossing the meusa first at Houx, then at Sedan. That was the impossible feat.

    Again, common misconceptions propagated mostly by Post-war French Historians trying to distance themselves from the 'architects of disaster' of 1940. The Maginot line was not meant to serve as the sum-total of the French defence, it was meant to free up troops and arms for offensive operations. France was acutely aware of their manpower shortage compared to Germany, most of the Interwar press talks about it, petain even blamed the fall of France on it. the Maginot line was an attempt to make up that dirth of manpower with massive fortifications.

    France was the first nation in the world to have an actual mechanised division, and their DLMs (Divisions Legeres Mechanisees) equipped with the SOMUA were excellent, and caused som serious damage to the Germans. However they were all deployed into belgium,a nd so irrelevant for the first weeks of the war. The 3 DCR (Divisions Cuirasees Reserves) or heavy tank divisions were badly used, badly led, and poorly equipped, the BIBis tank was powerful and difficult to destroy, but used an enormous amount of fuel, were slow and unwieldly, and were dispersed rather than being concentrated.

    The French forces were willing to fight, and in places where they culd, they fought hard. But they were outmaneuvered, and their war blan of the 'methodical war' which was taught in war colleges, was no match for the new German tactic of initiative and mission-style orders among all ranks of the German military.
     
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