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Questions about France in 1940


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#126 LJAd

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Posted 26 September 2013 - 08:56 PM

About the battle of Arras (a British-French operation): British :60 Matilda 1 and 16 M 2 :losses 47

 

                                                                                   :French :45 Hotchkiss 35 and 15 H 39 and Samua 35     :losses 20

 

German losses : 20 tanks and some 400 men



#127 TiredOldSoldier

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Posted 27 September 2013 - 02:28 AM

The French contribution varies according to sources, adding multilanguage problems to a relatively small force that was already "tank heavy" and had limited objectives made little sense. Horne doesn't mention a French attack but other sources state 3DLM (Division Legelre Mecanique/Light mechanized division) and 13th BCC (Bataillon Chars de Combat/Tank batallion) with some 60 assorted tanks did attack later in the day and some French tanks covered the British withdrawal.

One source mentions 7 MkVI light tanks in the British force, possibly from a recon element of one of the infantry divisions, any confirmation? It also seems likely the British had some "carriers" and those would class as tanks by 1940 standards.

400 is the number of German's captured according to most sources I've seen, they were probably mostly from the SS and the number probably includes prisoners taken by both British and French as the SS reported some 200 losses and Rommel 89KIA 137 WIA  but I'm missing the nubers for MIA,  IIRC Rommel reported the loss of a Pz III which made it likely some unit's from the "lent" regiment was involved as 7th Panzer didn't have any.

 

The following map found on the net  is pretty interesting, note the position of Pz regiment 25 that is ideally placed to cut off the Allied penetration, what looks like a supporting attack by 150 Brigade East of Arras and the divisional boundary betwerer 7th and  5th Panzer.  

arras21mai40.jpg

 

An Internet search reveals very different versions, according to the French language Wikipedia the French did all the fighting   :XD:, another site mentions the LSAH SS Panzer division in the Gernan OOB!

http://fr.wikipedia....e_d'Arras_(1940)


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#128 green slime

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Posted 27 September 2013 - 08:40 AM

I may be misremembering, but wasn't LSSAH, only a motorized infantry regiment in May 1940?



#129 TiredOldSoldier

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Posted 27 September 2013 - 02:12 PM

I may be misremembering, but wasn't LSSAH, only a motorized infantry regiment in May 1940?

Yes, it was upgraded to a brigade for the 1941 Balkans campaign LSSAH and to a full division in 1942. My comment was about the low quality of a lot of internet info (the French wiki page is also terrible). You are right Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler is either LAH or LSSAH not LSAH. 


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#130 Ira7

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Posted 12 November 2013 - 05:01 AM

No need to discuss the Royal Navy but the French navy was equally as professional and determined and should be a source of pride.

Huh?

The French navy wouldn't even sail their ships away from Nazi control.

That's a source of pride—if you're an aspiring Nazi, I guess.

Teaking and rewriting history is one thing, but let's call a spade a spade. The French don't have a whole lot to be proud of during the war.



#131 scipio

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Posted 14 November 2013 - 09:06 AM

Horne doesn't mention a French attack

 

 

Incorrect.  He does -see pages P575 etc and Chapter 18. Prioux's much deplete force was a useful addition and did cover perform well in protectign the right wing of the British withdrawl. 

 

He also explains that 150th brigade East of Arras made a harassing raid as did 13th Brigade even further East. Franklyn called these off when it was obvious that 25th panzer regiment was threatening his flank.

 

 

Freiser's map

I have Freisler's book and am sorry to say that he lets his pride in the German Army to which he belonged tinge his comments at times - especially where British Forces are concerned.

 

He takes great pains to tell us that ONLY the SS was routed - none of the Wehrmacht (which is quite incorrect) - very understandably the German Anti-tank gunners (34mm - a poor gun with significantly less penetration than the British 2 pounder) fled when their shells bounced of the heavily armoured British Tanks. You will find time and time again that the German claim significantly lower loss figures than they actually were. 

 

 It also seems likely the British had some "carriers" and those would class as tanks

 

 

 

Yes German reports rarely distinguish between British tanks and carriers (eg at Wormout they calimed 9 tanks shot up - but the British had no tanks only the infantry's bren gun carriers) - although as you know there was  world of difference between the bren gun carrier and a tank.



#132 urqh

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Posted 14 November 2013 - 01:18 PM

Prioux performed admirably as did many French at the time. The French have much to be proud of. The allied disaster of 1940 was a result of many things in previous years not just a French debacle..Of which we have to admit, but the French soldier went on to display great fighting abilities equal to any allied soldier from there on. Especially in the North African Deserts.


British Army 1939-1945 - World War II Tribute Video

 

 

[URL="http://youtu.be/Zbp_4XBmD4w"]

 

 

 

 

 

 
 

 


#133 arminiuss

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Posted 16 November 2013 - 04:46 PM

Incorrect.  He does -see pages P575 etc and Chapter 18. Prioux's much deplete force was a useful addition and did cover perform well in protectign the right wing of the British withdrawl. 

 

He also explains that 150th brigade East of Arras made a harassing raid as did 13th Brigade even further East. Franklyn called these off when it was obvious that 25th panzer regiment was threatening his flank.

 

 

Freiser's map

I have Freisler's book and am sorry to say that he lets his pride in the German Army to which he belonged tinge his comments at times - especially where British Forces are concerned.

 

He takes great pains to tell us that ONLY the SS was routed - none of the Wehrmacht (which is quite incorrect) - very understandably the German Anti-tank gunners (34mm - a poor gun with significantly less penetration than the British 2 pounder) fled when their shells bounced of the heavily armoured British Tanks. You will find time and time again that the German claim significantly lower loss figures than they actually were. 

 

 

 

Yes German reports rarely distinguish between British tanks and carriers (eg at Wormout they calimed 9 tanks shot up - but the British had no tanks only the infantry's bren gun carriers) - although as you know there was  world of difference between the bren gun carrier and a tank.

I would say there is also a world of difference between a tank and a PzKpfw I. And yet most sources count the Panzer I as the 2nd most numerous "tank" the Germans used in Fall Gelb.

 

Also the German door knocker was 37mm not 34mm.


Seek not the favor of the multitude; it is seldom got by honest and lawful means. But seek the testimony of few; and number not voices, but weigh them.
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#134 TiredOldSoldier

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Posted 23 November 2013 - 11:53 AM

I don't have Freiser's book, but it looks like a worthy read, I think I've read enough on the battle from multiple sides to manage some bias, and that map, if accurate and nothing has yet come up to contradict it, is a lot clearer than anything I've seen elsewhere. 

As far as the Heer not "routing" it depends on what you mean by routing, pulling out of an impossible position even if abandoning guns that had proved totally ineffective against enemy armour  for me is a tactical withdrawal, it only becomes a rout when panic sets in and a unit as a whole starts pulling back including previously uncommitted elements. AFAIK nothing like that happened with 7th Panzer though quite possibly Rommel's "from the front" leadership style had something  to do with it.

 

One interesting thing that comes out this thread is that Rommel's often quoted "5 Divisionen" estimation turns out to be a lot more correct than many accounts (including Horne) give it credit for, the may 21 Attack included units from two British divisions (23 and 5) a French one (3 DLM) and the whole of 1st Army tank brigade, and the British 50th was in the area as well.  That the whole of the units were not engaged is due to Allied command decisions/failures, Rommel had no way of knowing they only intended a "raid".

 

I agree there is a lot of difference between a carrier and what we now would call a tank, but I don't see much difference in capabilities between carriers, the British Mk VI light, the PzKpfw I, the Italian L3, the soviet Komsomolets tractors or even the French Chenillette Lorraine, they all were somewhat impervious to small arms fire and had no chance against any AT weapon worthy of the name even by 1940 standards.  Propaganda often counted them as tanks when on the enemy side and didn't count them at all when friendly.

 

One of the interesting things in research is how often propaganda has become "undisputable fact", there was a very amusing recent article on a French magazine about Waterloo being a "British" victory given the percentage of truly British troops in Wellington's command (besides the non trivial contribution of Blucher)  or Bir Hakeim being a "French" victory when the bulk of the troops were foreign legionaries (assuming what was basically a short lived holding action in a heavily fortified position  whose ultimate failure opened the way for greatest German success  in NA can be called a victory).


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#135 merdiolu

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Posted 26 November 2013 - 09:42 AM

 

One of the interesting things in research is how often propaganda has become "undisputable fact", there was a very amusing recent article on a French magazine about Waterloo being a "British" victory given the percentage of truly British troops in Wellington's command (besides the non trivial contribution of Blucher)  or Bir Hakeim being a "French" victory when the bulk of the troops were foreign legionaries (assuming what was basically a short lived holding action in a heavily fortified position  whose ultimate failure opened the way for greatest German success  in NA can be called a victory).

 

You might be interested in this : During European Theater of Operations between 1944-1945 , 1st French Army was also under SHEAF and Eisenhower's command. This army under Free French colors was formed after Operation Anvil landing on Southern France on August 1944 commanded by General Jean Lattre Tassigny and fighting at 6th US Army Group at Upper Rhine region a less strategic important area considering weight of Allied / German operation were up to north.

 

But 1st French Army was not entirely consisted of French. It had just eight divisions and five of these divisions were French Colonial Divisions from French North Africa. Consisted of mainly Algerian , Morrocian , Tunisian Goum troops.



#136 Skipper

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Posted 26 November 2013 - 10:54 AM

more details are needed here. 

 

1) Algeria was a French  departement during WW2 . It hab been French since 1830 (longer than Savoya , Nice and Mulhouse for instance) there were over a million Europena immigrants in Algeria, mainly French Alsacians, Lorrains, but also many spaniards and Italians for example. Their natioanlity was French .

It is often said that officers were French and privates colonials. This is not true. while officers were French , privates were recruits from the mentionned countries and included whoever joined Europeans or North Africans were mixed.   

2) The Goums were Moroccan local recruits with French officers (see picture) . Morocco was not a French departement , but a Protectorate. 

 

goumiers.JPG

 

3) The Tirailleurs north Africa were ethnically mixed units with French officers . Note the Senagelse  and goums were not mixed with other groups .

4) the Zouaves were European only colonial troops , including the privates. 

5) the First army had many regular European units (see Tunis, Monte Casino, Anvil etc...)

 

On the whole all these troops were French , simply because the colonies did not have their own command those days .  They fought for France and the French flag and France owes a lot to them ,no mater where they came from . 


Vorsicht+Feind.JPG


#137 arminiuss

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Posted 27 November 2013 - 08:56 PM

Italy has fond memories of some French North African troops. The allied part of Italy was just a giant black market and brothel.


Seek not the favor of the multitude; it is seldom got by honest and lawful means. But seek the testimony of few; and number not voices, but weigh them.
I KANT





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