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France fights on in North Africa

Discussion in 'What If - Mediterranean & North Africa' started by T. A. Gardner, Feb 26, 2008.

  1. anaruka

    anaruka Member

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    In a scenario that the Monnaie initiative of a full union between France and the UK had passed, it is very probable that the Germans would have tried to absorb nationalist French movements. By comparing the case of other occupied Western European Countries (Norway, Holland etc.), it is clear that collaboration would have been an issue as well in the occupied France. From my understanding though, Germany was not eager to transfer any power to a French government, especially not in the North, where they always feared conspiracy with Britain. Though it might have been an option in a later state of the war, where the German attitude towards changed under the pressure of the events.
    For a free government the first priority in any case would have been to secure its base in North Africa, then came the sort of Southern France and the refugees. With the decision to keep on fighting, even with the Monnaie initiative it would probably been too late to keep Brittany and the Atlantic coast. Millions of refugees would still be trapped in the South headed towards the Mediterranean, their number even growing with German advances. The sort of Southern France would have depended on how fast France and UK could organize supply and rescue around Spain;
     
  2. Carl W Schwamberger

    Carl W Schwamberger Ace

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    Thanks for the comments.

    So the development of a collaborationist France would require several years, and not have much strength or independace from the occupation?

    I suspose the Germans would see it in their best interest to aid the restoration of the population to their homes and work. I am guessing the Spanish might not let the refugees have much freedom. Perhaps they would trade those the Germans wanted for the Republican refugees remaining in France.

    Elsewhere someone remarked that there was a discussion within the military about the evacuation of soldiers from Marsallies & other ports. The numbers or 200 ships available and 400,000 men as a evacuation target were ascibed to this discussion. Is there evidence of sucha discussion, and are these numbers credible?
     
  3. T. A. Gardner

    T. A. Gardner Genuine Chief

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    I see this as also a big spoiler for future German operations as well. First, with the French fighting on the campaign in France itself would have lasted longer and the Germans would have had to occupy the entire country requiring a good deal more garrison forces to do so. With the campaign dragging on, the British would avoid the threat of invasion and it is very likely that the Germans don't even attempt a Seelöwe plan. This would be due to the evacuation at Dunkirk going down historically then the British having time to recover while the Germans are still occupied in France finishing off that campaign.
    Next, the Germans now face a much larger RAF / FFAF combination in England and also have to consider French (or British) air forces that might be staged on Corsica too. This likely, coupled with no intention of trying an invasion, would have curtailed an air offensive against Britain on a massive scale.
    With Italy collapsing (more likely) the Germans might have been forced to put more effort into securing their Southern Flank and possibly even being forced to occupy Italy itself to ensure the British /French combined forces do not try to invade.
    The French having possibly as many as 20 divisions in England and North Africa would definitely require more attention from the Germans. Could this lead to a change in planning to put off a campaign into Russia?
     
  4. Carl W Schwamberger

    Carl W Schwamberger Ace

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    Looking at the loss rates of the Luftwaffe for the battle of France, then extending that battle several weeks cetainly weakens it for any further fight against Britian in August or September

    The French AF was actively evacuating to Africa. I suspose some squadrons may have ened up in Britian, but the bulk of the survivorswould be in Africa. check this link for a few details in the last pargraph.

    http://www.airpower.maxwell.af.mil/airchronicles/aureview/1985/sep-oct/kirkland.html

    If the Allies try to counter a Italian attack against Greece or Yugoslavia, or threaten Sicilly then certainly Germany will divert combat units to bolster Axis defenses. The question of how much depends on the timing of the Allied moves in relation to events on the Eastern Front. In March/April 1941 the Wehrmacht could afford to send entire armys rampaging throu the Balkans. In the Spring of 1942 Germany was hard pressed to sustain Rommels single corps.

    Delaying a attack on the USSR depends on what Hitler decides in the late Summer or Fall of 1940. If he chooses to pursue the French to Africa and to try to finish off Britian then the Luftwaffe and the best units of the Wehrmacht will be committed to those tasks and unavailable for Barbarosa in June 1941
     
  5. anaruka

    anaruka Member

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    agreeing that the evolution of the situation in France would have had a big impact on Germany’s decision of attacking Russia or not. Therefore the question might be if Germany would have driven out all French troops from the main territory or not. If yes, Germany would have attacked Russia, perhaps even as scheduled, because Italy would not have dared to launch the attack on Greece with allied naval supremacy in the Mediterranean. Hitler was obsessed with this attack. But if not, if the French could have defended the South East and the ports of Marseille and Toulon until summer 41, perhaps even a counter strike and guerilla in the occupied French territories, there would not have been neither the resources nor the conditions to wage war against Russia. Already the “unresolved” British case was not scheduled in Hitler’s planning, now if there was another frontline open in the West… Also not to forget that the myth of Hitler’s genious that silenced so many German commanders was basically built on his success in the West. Now with a result much more ambiguous, resistance to overcome inside the German system would have been much higher.
     
  6. clems

    clems Member

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    GAL maxime Weygand was formal: impossible to evacuate many men in Africa.
     
  7. Skipper

    Skipper Kommodore

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    It would be interesting to find out what his reasons were. I would think it would have been easier than Dunkirk, even with the lack of ships and the Germans masters of the skies.
     
  8. Carl W Schwamberger

    Carl W Schwamberger Ace

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    I'm fairly certain the Wehrnacht would have occupied all of France before October 1940. The collapse of the remaining army in Central France was too complete and the last army units guarding the Italian frontier or fleeing south could not have held the Germans for more than a few weeks or months.

    The question is then would Hitler 1. Turn to attack Britian and fisnish it off, the Sea Lion option? 2. Send his best ground and air forces to aid the Italians in defeating the remaining Franch in Africa? 3. Leave the west and turn all but a occupation group east to prepare in Poland for attacking the USSR?

    Of these I'd think the Sea Lion option the most likely. In June 1940 most people would think the Italians capable of occupying the French colonys. So it woud be tempting to try for defeating Britian and have all business settled in the west. So the battle of Britian is likely to play out as it did historically.

    In the Med the Italians will fnd themselves in trouble. The combined British French fleets and Allied aircraft in Tunisia will threaten to cut off the sea lanes to Lybia. Hitler will be asked to send some air groups and whatever ground forces that might seem appropriate. So some Germns could be diverted from attacking the USSR, but perhps no more than actually were.
     
  9. Carl W Schwamberger

    Carl W Schwamberger Ace

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    Cant say at all. Elsewhere someone remarked that the French navy estimated they could evacuate a maximum of 200,000 men. There was no indication of where he got this, or how much time was allowed for this.

    From the start of the British embarkation, whch begain nearly a week before operation Dynamo, until the last man was plucked from the docks of the Atlantic ports the British took about 500,000 men from France. That was partially under air attack. Dunkirk area was pounded, the ports further to the west were less so. Aiding a evacuation from the southern ports is that they are out of practical range of the Luftwaffes bombers. To makea large scale attack on Marsallie or Toulon air bases will have to be established south of Paris and the fuel/ground support moved there. So if the French start their embarkation around the 15th of June there will be one to two weeks before the Luftwaffe can seriously interfere with it. I suspose a analysis of the loss rates of men and ships per air sortie at Dunkirk would allow a rough estimate of what might be removed from the southe ports. Information of what ships the allies had in the Mediterrainan are needed too.

    The link I posted earlier indicates the evacuation of the air force was well under way. So, I expect the removal of the most skilled portion of the AF personnel was already arraigned. This air evacuation is susposed to have placed priority on the best aircraft, leaving the second raters behind. This suggests and French air defense of the south ports would be less than that of the RAF over Dunkirk, but I may be wrong. After all the French have little to lose in trying for a air battle here.
     
  10. Carl W Schwamberger

    Carl W Schwamberger Ace

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    Another question which requires knowledge of the politics of the day...

    I'd expect there would be a large change in military leadership as France sorted out is military forces in Africa. Who might be the principle leaders emerging, and would change in doctrine or methods happen quickly? Not all French military officers admired the ground and air doctrines in place before the disaster. Would change come quickly, in only a year or less, or would it take several years for adaptation to sink in?
     
  11. Skipper

    Skipper Kommodore

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    The Gaulle? Giraud? Who knows this is pure speculation at this point. There would have been no Petain regime and no "Free" Zone.
    The resisting option in the Alps is not so plausible, but in the east, there were still units in the Maginot bunkers that could carry on for several weeks/months.
     
  12. Falcon Jun

    Falcon Jun Ace

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    If the Germans had opted for Sea Lion, they would have been massacred.
    This was pointed very clearly in the What If Sea Lion thread. I agree with you though that it would've been a very tempting for Germany to attempt to finish off the UK once and for all.
    As an afterthought, I don't think Germany would've mounted its air offensive in the same historical manner against the UK if France had chosen to fight on in North Africa.
    Germany would've probably based more squadrons in Italy or the Med area to deal with any potential UK/French move, thus diverting forces from the air offensive against England.
     
  13. Skipper

    Skipper Kommodore

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    With North Africa in French hands, as well as Corsica and possibly some area in the Alps (don't forget that the Italian offensive of June1940 was a total failure there). It would have been possible for the allies to bring reinforcements to Corsica. There would have been no Afrika Korps in North Africa, Lubia would have been an easier prey and instead of landing at Sicilly the allies could have opted for central Italy or southern France via Corsica.
     
  14. Carl W Schwamberger

    Carl W Schwamberger Ace

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    Agree there. After the Luftwaffe failed to defeat the RAF the Germans agreed as well. I see the same attempt/cancellation.

    Perhaps not right away. The Italians are not very well prepared to directly attack Tunisia or Egypt, theFrench are very disorganized and not at all ready for major ground or air offensive operations. A naval battle may develop around the evacuation, which may draw off a few Luftwaffe units.

    Its hard to predict what the German point of view will be during July. A decsion to attack Britian before bad weather must be made fairly quickly. If its is decided the Italians can eventually finish off the weak Allies in the Med then the Luftwaffe might be concentrated against Britian. In that case the minimum would be sent south to harras the evacuation ports and it would be returned north quickly.

    It would only be after the Italians got into trouble that the Luftwaffe would be required to send reinforcements to the Med, and that may not be any more than what was sent historically. Conversely if the French mount a effective air defense in the final weeks in the south a larger longer term commintment in July-August and heavy losses by the Luftwaffe of another 300 to 500 aircraft might lead to postponement of a attack on Britian. Or maybe complete cancellation. It is really difficult to say for certain since the German leadership was so unpredictable. Goerings overconfidence, Hitlers erratic thinking over details, lack of a well defined stratigic plan for OKW ect...
     
  15. Carl W Schwamberger

    Carl W Schwamberger Ace

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    I suspose whoever was currently in charge in Africa wold continue in that position for the near term. Thus having responsibility for the inital fighting with the Italians. I dont recall if Giraud was a POW at this point. He was a minor player in 1940 any way. There were a long list of senior marshalls and generals to choose from. As Reynaud who would you choose as the new military chiefs to evacuate to Africa?

    Certainly. I'd suspect the nazis would find some facist minded Frenchmen to orgainzed a collaborationist government, but that certainly would not be the same as the Vichy goverment.
     
  16. anaruka

    anaruka Member

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    it seems like for Weygand the honors of the French Army was the most important drive. That's why he opposed bluntly the idea of capitulation , because it would have held the army responsible, and pledged instead for armistice, that involved the politicians. This distinction seems to have played a big role in the Weygand's and perhaps also Petain's position and have caused a lot of friction in the discussion between politicians and and military. Technically, after the experience with two (or more) saccessful evacuations across the channel, Weygands positions seems indeed questinable, esp. with the mediterranean ships still not at all engaged in the battle. Of course many ships that were still engaged around the channel and in the Atlantic would have been deployed around Spain to Southern France, but at the same times the whole of Southern France would still have to be conquered by the Germans.
     
  17. Skipper

    Skipper Kommodore

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    I don't know about south of France, but Corsica would have been a big stronghold and a valuable asset for the Allies. Sardaigna could be added too because I doubt the Italians would have resisted too long there.
     
  18. Carl W Schwamberger

    Carl W Schwamberger Ace

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    Corsica is interesting. The bomber types remaining to France, and those on order from the US were the medium high speed types, which could range the industrial north of Italy from Corsica. If the Axis allowed the Allies to retain that island and build airbases there then bomber raids on Italy would become rather anoying in 1941 & 1942. Torpedo boats and small coastal submarines based in Corsica would raise hell with Italian coastal shiping. I'd think the Axis might be forced to do something about this by 1941 before serious damage was done.

    If the Italian navy & airforces were wrecked in a fight for the sea lanes to Lybia then a attack on Cosica might not be practical. Sardinia might not be defendable either & lost to the Allys in 1941 or 1942.
     
  19. Carl W Schwamberger

    Carl W Schwamberger Ace

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    It seems to me that if the British could organize the evacuation of over 400,000 men during four weeks then the French navy could manage 100,000 or even 200,000 in 2-3 weeks. It would depend on how many cargoand passenger ships are available in the Med. The navy combat ships could not help much as the Italian navy would need to be guarded against.

    If there is a sucessfull evacuation then Admiral Darlan might come to dominate the French war effor for the enxt couple years. Naval operations would be key in stablizing the Allied position and Darlan seems to have been a capable leader.
     
  20. Carl W Schwamberger

    Carl W Schwamberger Ace

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    France had a aircraft carrier half built. Is ther eany information available on it? Could it have been taken to a British or US shipyard to be completed?
     

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