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  • France and Belgium allied at start of WW2, dug in

    Gentlemen, this is my first post so apologies for any rough edges.

    The immediate cause of the Fall of France was the ease with which Germany was able to bypass the Maginot line via Belgium. However, at the time of its construction, the Belgians were allowing France to permanently station forces in their nation at peacetime.

    At a later point, it appears this understanding lapsed, and France withdrew to her own borders.

    This meant Germany would be able to bypass the Maginot line by going through Belgium, brushing past the terrain obstacles (rivers, forests, hills and marshes) on account of them being only lightly held by the much smaller Belgian army, then fighting the larger French army on equal terms - the nice flat plains of the Pas-de-Calais.

    The Dyle plan was an attempt to make the best of this bad situation.

    Mobile forces would mass on the Franco-Belgian border, and rush north at the outbreak of war, attempting to reach defensible positions on the Dyle river before the Germans could cross.

    Had these forces already been stationed there, dug in with artillery set up and ranged in peacetime, the Germans would have had a much harder time of it. As it happened, many Allied tanks broke down on this long drive to the combat zone, and had they already been dug in, fewer losses may have occurred to the Luftwaffe.

    Of course the defence would still likely have broken if Gamelin chose to defend the Ardennes forest with only two light infantry divisions, and not had reserves. But did the headlong rush of the Dyle plan contribute to the uneven distribution of defenders, and preclude the timely arrival of reinforcements? Furthermore i tend to think that even had Gamelin's catastrophic blunder not taken place, the German's superior mobility and flexibility would have enabled them to make crossings before the Allies could get there somewhere else in the line, and the result, eventually, would have been the same , perhaps with higher casualties on the German side.

    So why did Belgium kick French troops from their territory? I'm guessing they felt that France's foreign policy was making a war with Germany more likely. Eastern Belgium would be occupied and the rest would suffer with the ravages of fighting, all for no gain to the Belgian people.

    So, for France to retain access to Belgian soil, they would have to adopt an isolationist foreign policy. No quarrelling with Germany over reparations, rearmament, or territorial expansion. No trade embargoes. The reunification with Austria passes without comment.


    1938. The Sudetenland crisis. To keep their Belgian neighbours happy, France's official position becomes "no comment". Chamberlain is hardly of a mind to face Germany alone. There is probably not even a "Munich conference". Germany gets to annex or invade Czechoslovakia as they see fit.


    1939. Germany presses claims for Danzig. There is no question of Belgium allowing France to guarantee the independence of Poland. Chamberlain is not going to act alone either. What will Stalin's position be? I can't see him fighting to save Poland, there is nothing in it for him. Will the Germans make a Molotov-Ribbentrop pact? With little risk of war in the west, why would they not just keep it all, and get a couple hundred miles head-start for Barbarossa?


    1941. Barbarossa. As compared with the historic outcome -

    1) Germany has the advantage of a deeper starting position within Russia. Logistical issues will be less severe when they draw close to Moscow , Leningrad or Stalingrad.

    2) The Soviets will likely be better prepared however. Without the M-R pact, Stalin will have been expecting the stroke. The terrain that the initial fighting takes place on will be less suited to the attacker.

    3) The UK will have been forced closer to the Soviet union and will probably supply more aid. With no M-R pact, the Soviets are less of a pariah state and may receive more help from other sources too.

    4) With no conquest of the Baltic states, the front line is narrower.

    5) With no winter war , the onslaught of the Wermacht will be the first opportunity for the Soviets to find out what the Purges did to their command structure. It won't be pretty.

    6) The UK will embargo Germany and may even declare War and enforce a blockade. However Germany can still trade with Belgium and France, who don't want to provoke Germany.


    1942 or 1943. A huge Anglo/American force sits on the British Isles. The very moment their transport ships enter Belgian waters, Germany will DoW Belgium. Can the Germans crush France and Belgium before substantial forces arrive? No. Can they seize the bridgeheads that the Benelux countries hold over the rivers Rhine and Meuse, before reinforcements arrive? Perhaps, but it depends on how much of the Wermacht got sent east, and the eastern front is now far, far away.

    Germany is now in a very bad position. Allied aircraft will be able to make escorted daylight raids on the Ruhr from French, Belgian and Dutch airbases, even without the development of long range escort fighters.
    The Allies will still have to force a crossing of the Rhine however, unless they were somehow able to keep and hold eastern Holland.


    So, coming full circle. It seems that Germany must occupy France, Belgium and Holland prior to Barbarossa, even if these nations remain neutral and don't go to war over Poland. But , if France and Belgium had maintained a full military alliance, they would have a very hard time breaking through the defence. Even if they eventually triumph in a WW1 style slog, the nation may not have any appetite to start a war in the east afterwards.

  • #2
    Originally posted by aodgamer
    Gentlemen, this is my first post so apologies for any rough edges.
    Welcome to the forums

    Originally posted by aodgamer
    …The immediate cause of the Fall of France was the ease with which Germany was able to bypass the Maginot line via Belgium. However, at the time of its construction, the Belgians were allowing France to permanently station forces in their nation at peacetime. …
    No, there were no French troops in Belgium prior to Belgium withdrawing as a neutral.

    Originally posted by aodgamer
    …This meant Germany would be able to bypass the Maginot line by going through Belgium, brushing past the terrain obstacles (rivers, forests, hills and marshes) on account of them being only lightly held by the much smaller Belgian army, then fighting the larger French army on equal terms - the nice flat plains of the Pas-de-Calais….
    The Maginot Line was *intended* to direct the German attack away from eastern France and into Belgium. The French strategy was to fight the Germans off French soil to protect its resource, industrial and population centres and avoid the damage such as occurred in WWI.

    Originally posted by aodgamer
    The Dyle plan was an attempt to make the best of this bad situation. Mobile forces would mass on the Franco-Belgian border, and rush north at the outbreak of war, attempting to reach defensible positions on the Dyle river before the Germans could cross….
    The Dyle Plan was meant to place the French army in better defensive terrain (rivers and forest), shorten the front (by some 80 miles) and add 22 Belgian divisions to the Allied order of battle. The Dyle Plan accomplished all three objectives.

    Originally posted by aodgamer
    …Had these forces already been stationed there, dug in with artillery set up and ranged in peacetime, the Germans would have had a much harder time of it. As it happened, many Allied tanks broke down on this long drive to the combat zone, and had they already been dug in, fewer losses may have occurred to the Luftwaffe…
    The German attack that mattered most, at Sedan, hit French positions that did not need to move at all as part of the Dyle Plan. The Dyle Plan was not the cause of the collapse of the French army. Most allied armour, other than those belonging to the cavalry, moved by rail, breakdown was not an issue, it was logistics and combat that did in most French armour. The LW accounted for very few tanks,… air attacks was very effective at beating up the artillery

    Originally posted by aodgamer
    …Of course the defence would still likely have broken if Gamelin chose to defend the Ardennes forest with only two light infantry divisions, and not had reserves. But did the headlong rush of the Dyle plan contribute to the uneven distribution of defenders, and preclude the timely arrival of reinforcements? Furthermore i tend to think that even had Gamelin's catastrophic blunder not taken place, the German's superior mobility and flexibility would have enabled them to make crossings before the Allies could get there somewhere else in the line, and the result, eventually, would have been the same , perhaps with higher casualties on the German side….
    The French pushed 5 light mech cav divisions into the Ardennes and defended the Meuse with 12 more infantry divisions of 9th and 2nd Armies. Behind these in immediate reserve were 6 divisions include 2 of 3 heavy armoured divisions (DCR).

    You are correct in the fact that German flexibility and mobility won the day. They got inside the French decision making curve and the French could not keep up. The Dyle Plan was arguably the best French move and cannot be considered a blunder. The was no other viable options.

    Originally posted by aodgamer
    …So why did Belgium kick French troops from their territory? I'm guessing they felt that France's foreign policy was making a war with Germany more likely. Eastern Belgium would be occupied and the rest would suffer with the ravages of fighting, all for no gain to the Belgian people....
    The Belgian king withdrew from the alliance based on the mistaken belief that declaring neutrality would spare Belgium from attack. Hitler could not have cared less.

    Originally posted by aodgamer
    …1939. Germany presses claims for Danzig. There is no question of Belgium allowing France to guarantee the independence of Poland. Chamberlain is not going to act alone either. What will Stalin's position be? I can't see him fighting to save Poland, there is nothing in it for him. Will the Germans make a Molotov-Ribbentrop pact? With little risk of war in the west, why would they not just keep it all, and get a couple hundred miles head-start for Barbarossa?...
    Belgium would only gain by having the Germans face a second front. Withdrawing from the alliance was what weakened Belgium's position. Further, Belgium would have no say in British and French guarantees to Poland

    Why would Stalin permit Germany to absorb Poland or parts of Poland that were previously parts of imperial Russia? Stalin would not fight to save Poland but he would divide Poland with Germany. Hitler would, as in the OTL, accept because he did not want war with the SU in 1939. Stalin was not going to leave the Baltic States alone either. These were considered part of Russia and most of Stalin’s pre-war moves were aimed at recovering former imperial Russian provinces, not expansion.

    Originally posted by aodgamer
    …So, coming full circle. It seems that Germany must occupy France, Belgium and Holland prior to Barbarossa, even if these nations remain neutral and don't go to war over Poland. But , if France and Belgium had maintained a full military alliance, they would have a very hard time breaking through the defence. Even if they eventually triumph in a WW1 style slog, the nation may not have any appetite to start a war in the east afterwards.
    Probably not. Hitler needed to eliminate the west as a threat before turning east, so war with the west was inevitable. Hitler wanted to choose the time but 1939 upset those plans.
    The Purist

    Words ought to be a little wild, for they are the assault of thoughts on the unthinking - John Maynard Keynes.

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by aodgamer View Post

      So why did Belgium kick French troops from their territory?
      Belgium ended its military alliance with France for a complex set of reasons. One major event was the failure of the former allies to support France and Belgium in enforcing the Versailles Treaty in 1923-24. France called for support from the former allies when the decision was made to occupy the Rhineland/Ruhr in 1923. Only Belgium gave any significant support. Britain & Italy did nothing to help, and the US government was more supportive of the Weinmar government than France. Belgium and France stood alone in the effort to force German compliance. The French effort to create the "Little Entente", with Rumania, Cezchcoslovakia, Poland... fell apart & the Depression era economy discouraged military expense that a alliance with France might cause.

      So yes, with few to no allies a Belgian Franco military unity dis seem to lead to this...

      Originally posted by aodgamer View Post
      I'm guessing they felt that France's foreign policy was making a war with Germany more likely. Eastern Belgium would be occupied and the rest would suffer with the ravages of fighting, all for no gain to the Belgian people.
      Originally posted by aodgamer View Post
      So, for France to retain access to Belgian soil, they would have to adopt an isolationist foreign policy. No quarrelling with Germany over reparations, rearmament, or territorial expansion. No trade embargoes. The reunification with Austria passes without comment.
      The opposite. A aggresive French stance would have impressed Belgium a bit more. In the latter 1920s the French government choose to reject the ability to intervene swiftly and decisively in Germany. The decision to depend on fixed fortifications as the first shield, the decision to keep the French metropolitan army completely as a organization of reservists without any rapid response capability, and the politicians abandonment of any consideration of repeating the occupation of 1923-24 left Belgium exposed to German initiative.

      Originally posted by aodgamer View Post
      .... But , if France and Belgium had maintained a full military alliance, they would have a very hard time breaking through the defence. Even if they eventually triumph in a WW1 style slog, the nation may not have any appetite to start a war in the east afterwards.
      Yes there are advantages, but I'd think simpler. In short France & Belgium together maintain a aggresive stance towards German & construct a capability to intervene rapidly on German territory. Thus when Hitler orders the occupation of the Rhineland a Franco Belgian Corps de Intervention is ready to march in on notice of a day or two. This intervention force need not be particularly large, but it would need to be well trained, and sufficient reserves be mobilized should the crisis last more than a week or two.

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by Carl Schwamberg View Post
        In short France & Belgium together maintain a aggresive stance towards German & construct a capability to intervene rapidly on German territory. Thus when Hitler orders the occupation of the Rhineland a Franco Belgian Corps de Intervention is ready to march in on notice of a day or two. This intervention force need not be particularly large, but it would need to be well trained, and sufficient reserves be mobilized should the crisis last more than a week or two.
        Boy, wouldn't that have been a good idea...!
        Michele

        Comment


        • #5
          I'm all for alternate timelines, but short of installing some form of dictatorship no Belgian government could have compromised on agressive action against Germany, there simply was no public support.

          The French alliance was terminated precisely because French policy threatened to drag Belgium in another war, as late as 1938 preparations were made to defend the southern Belgian border from trangressions *by France*.

          The fact that French regarded Belgium as an extention of the Maginot line ( the Ardennes were marked "zone de destruction" on French miltary maps) was also ill-recieved.

          Basically from '26 or so onward poltical effort was deliberately aimed at distancing Belgium from France and it's policies - to simply reverse that trend would require additional clarification I'm affraid
          Lambert of Montaigu - Crusader.

          Bolgios - Mercenary Game.

          Comment


          • #6
            It was still misguided.

            By 1935 the French themselves had switched from an aggressive policy towards Germany to one of defence (because of 1928). Being worried about French foreign policy had some vality until 1928 but after the French effectively threw their hands in the air over enforcing Versailles and withdrew into France the fear seems misplaced.
            The Purist

            Words ought to be a little wild, for they are the assault of thoughts on the unthinking - John Maynard Keynes.

            Comment


            • #7
              Thanks for the replies guys, good info. Looking at a historic event is like looking at a fractal pattern, reaching one level of understanding just reveals another world of detail underneath.


              France was taking a much bigger risk than the UK in declaring War on Germany. The UK might loose military assets, go bankrupt, loose colonies and the government could fall, but there was very little risk of actual invasion. Hence the "what if" scenario, which i think would actually impede German progress more.


              It appears the French underestimated the threat. Yes, we have 20-20 hindsight, but the basic facts should have been obvious -


              1) Germany has twice France's population

              2) Germany has 2 and a half times their economy

              3) Germany has three times France's heavy industry

              4) Germany has track record of military prowess (as does France)

              5) Germany is a military dictatorship that can pick and choose the time it goes to war, and whom they go to war with. They can plan their economy and rearmament programme accordingly, requesting loans they cannot pay back, which mature after the commencement of hostilities.

              6) The terrain makes it much easier for Germany to defend from France than vice versa. Germany can, by violating Belgium's neutrality invade via the flat plains of pas de calais, on quite a wide front, and immediately threaten the industrial areas of Lille, soon after Paris. France would have to force a crossing of the Vosges, the Rhine, then slog through hilly, rural, forested Baden Wuttemburg.

              Would it really have been possible to intervene at the re-occupation of the Rhineland? Morally, it would have been a tough sell. I don't know how accurate it is, but the game Arsenal of Democracy has Germany with 30 modern and full strength infantry divisions at this time, as well as two fledgling armour divisions. This is plausible given that Hitler had already been in power three years. France needs quite a bit of time to mobilize (as it does in 1939) and some of the divisions have rather obsolete gear. In game it actually proves very difficult to make a crossing of the Rhine, and before long Germany's superior resources enable it to field a much stronger force. It takes other powers, such as Poland or Czechoslovakia, opening a second front to tip the balance, but that was probably unlikely in 1936. By 1938, Germany was much stronger.



              I was going to ask to what extent economic/strategic factors lead to the German superiority in "flexibility and mobility".


              France mobilised 5 million men vs 4 million by Germany with a smaller population. This is impressive, but it may have been impossible for them to match the Germans for Quality as well as Quantity. Presmumably, more of the German divisions were full timers, wheras the French had a greater portion of reservists. It was also difficult for their economy to keep all of these divisions equipped with the most modern equipment. According the Wikipedia article on the Battle of France, many divisions were lacking anti-air and anti-tank assets.


              I can't remember the source, but I'd heard that they spent the phony war period building fieldworks, as fits their doctrine of static defence, when they might have spent it performing manouvres and exercises. Certainly the Dyle plan seems to inherently carry a large element of manouvre.


              The Wikipedia article also states that "only 0.15 of military spending between 1923 and 1939 had been on radios and other communications equipment". This kind of answers a question i was going to ask, but i'll ask it anyway. How did the average age of the French tank park compare to that of the Heer? Germany must have aquired all of its tanks after Nazi's rise to power, in a comparatively short period leveraging Germany's greater industry, >10% GDP military spending and Hjalmar Schacht's mefo bills. France had longer to aquire its tanks but less resources per year to devote to military production.


              Of course, the early model Panzers fared very poorly with regard to armour thickness and gun calibre compared to allied equipment, I suppose this would be a consequence of German industry not having produced any tanks at all prior to 1934. But were they less modern? Many of the French heavy tanks were rather slow, and crucially, most lacked radios. Was this lack of radios entirely due to the armed force's acute undervaluing of communications, or were the tanks an older design (despite having larger weapon calibres), also a factor.


              In some ways this is a reverse of the situation encountered in the liberation of France in 1944. This time the Allies had the tanks with superior mobility and the Germans, on the defensive, had the advantage of firepower.


              Finally, there is the criticism of Allied forces spreading their tanks out amongst their forces, rather than the Germans concentrating all their assets into an armoured spearhead. Whilst i can see the disadvantage in one is trying to launch a counterattack, how is that different to "combined arms" philosophy, infantry working together with tanks? Was the problem again, more one of poor communications equipment and inexperienced reservists?

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by aodgamer View Post
                Finally, there is the criticism of Allied forces spreading their tanks out amongst their forces, rather than the Germans concentrating all their assets into an armoured spearhead. Whilst i can see the disadvantage in one is trying to launch a counterattack, how is that different to "combined arms" philosophy, infantry working together with tanks? Was the problem again, more one of poor communications equipment and inexperienced reservists?
                The difference betwen night & day.

                The Allies did not 'spread out their tanks'.
                Their doctrine was that infantry was the arm of decision, and that tanks would support them. Therefore a lot of their tanks were designed to operate at slow speeds, and to deal with strongpoints that would block or delay infantry. Even if re-grouped into a better organization, they were slow, and their crews were not trained for mobile warfare against enemy armor.

                Combined arms is when all arms are organized, trained, and equipped for joint operations, most commonly mobile warfare. For example, infantry trained to protect tanks, and mounted in APCs or IFVs so they can keep up with the armor. Artillery in SP mounts with direct fire control to the unit commander so you have dedicated fire support on tap at all times. And all support assets fully motorized so they can keep up with the force.

                The problem with the Allies was not that their tanks were spread out, it was that their doctrine produced tanks that were too slow for mobile warfae, and a command structure that was unready for mobile warfare.

                It was the classic case of preparing for the wrong war.

                France 1940 was not about tanks, it was about doctrines.The Germans bet everything on mobility; the Allies bet everything on specific conditions being present.

                The Allies were wrong.
                Any man can hold his place when the bands play and women throw flowers; it is when the enemy presses close and metal shears through the ranks that one can acertain which are soldiers, and which are not.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Arnold J Rimmer View Post
                  France 1940 was not about tanks, it was about doctrines.The Germans bet everything on mobility; the Allies bet everything on specific conditions being present.

                  The Allies were wrong.
                  The 0.15% budget spend on communications equipment seems indefensible, but given how much greater Germany's resources were, a successful defence would require a greater presence from day one by the British Army or the Franco/Belgian forces being ready dug in beforehand with a steady arrival of British reinforcements over the course of the war, however good the tactics.


                  Of course bad tactics can loose a war no matter what resources are thrown at it but the Germans weren't about to make any easy mistakes.


                  So, the French should have made lighter armed / armoured , faster tanks with radios. OK, makes absolute sense. They could have done that and still retained a significant advantage in firepower vs panzer 1s, such that a single char holds up many panzers.

                  The infantry needed more radios, to have more full timers, to have self propelled AT and AA assets, and more motor transport. OK, but they would not have been able to field as many divisions as they did historically. Without a larger contribution from British forces, the Allies would have been outnumbered. Also, the Germans would be better able to replace losses than the French.


                  Now, The Purist wrote that the Luftwaffe didn't take out many Allied tanks, but was able to hit our artillery hard. Is this because the Arty doesn't move, or because it is soft skinned? In which case the SP AT and AA will also be vulnerable.

                  Ergo, France and Belgium need to work on an integrated air defence system, like Fighter Command had. The list of resources keeps on growing..


                  In the "Arsenal of Democracy" game, it is quite good fun to play as France. The game models the economics/manpower situation, such that it is not possible to match Germany for quantity and quality.


                  You basically have to implement a flawless Dyle plan and keep the advantage of a river between you and the Germans, otherwise, even if you avoid getting encircled, you loose the battle of attrition. Of course, in this game, AI UK isn't terribly helpful. No boots at all on the ground in 1940, only in 1942 do significant numbers of UK and Americans show up. The Soviets don't attack Germany till a significant part of their army is destroyed, in other words, when the Allies are east of the Rhine and already winning.


                  Against AI Germany it is possible to win with this Dyle plan. A human opponent will be into Belgium before you can set up a defence. I end up disbanding the Navy, the bomber force, cavalry and heavy armour in order to pay for the extra fighters, radar installations, SP AT and MOTO INF that the defence requires. And we're still badly outnumbered. If they get across the Meuse, they are in Bordeaux 3 weeks later.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by aodgamer View Post
                    The 0.15% budget spend on communications equipment seems indefensible, but given how much greater Germany's resources were, a successful defence would require a greater presence from day one by the British Army or the Franco/Belgian forces being ready dug in beforehand with a steady arrival of British reinforcements over the course of the war, however good the tactics.


                    Of course bad tactics can loose a war no matter what resources are thrown at it but the Germans weren't about to make any easy mistakes.


                    So, the French should have made lighter armed / armoured , faster tanks with radios. OK, makes absolute sense. They could have done that and still retained a significant advantage in firepower vs panzer 1s, such that a single char holds up many panzers.

                    The infantry needed more radios, to have more full timers, to have self propelled AT and AA assets, and more motor transport. OK, but they would not have been able to field as many divisions as they did historically. Without a larger contribution from British forces, the Allies would have been outnumbered. Also, the Germans would be better able to replace losses than the French.


                    Now, The Purist wrote that the Luftwaffe didn't take out many Allied tanks, but was able to hit our artillery hard. Is this because the Arty doesn't move, or because it is soft skinned? In which case the SP AT and AA will also be vulnerable.

                    Ergo, France and Belgium need to work on an integrated air defence system, like Fighter Command had. The list of resources keeps on growing..


                    In the "Arsenal of Democracy" game, it is quite good fun to play as France. The game models the economics/manpower situation, such that it is not possible to match Germany for quantity and quality.


                    You basically have to implement a flawless Dyle plan and keep the advantage of a river between you and the Germans, otherwise, even if you avoid getting encircled, you loose the battle of attrition. Of course, in this game, AI UK isn't terribly helpful. No boots at all on the ground in 1940, only in 1942 do significant numbers of UK and Americans show up. The Soviets don't attack Germany till a significant part of their army is destroyed, in other words, when the Allies are east of the Rhine and already winning.


                    Against AI Germany it is possible to win with this Dyle plan. A human opponent will be into Belgium before you can set up a defence. I end up disbanding the Navy, the bomber force, cavalry and heavy armour in order to pay for the extra fighters, radar installations, SP AT and MOTO INF that the defence requires. And we're still badly outnumbered. If they get across the Meuse, they are in Bordeaux 3 weeks later.
                    France 1940 wasn't about numbers or equipment, it was about doctrine. The Germans sought, and suceeded, in their principle of placing the focus point of their attack on the point of decision.

                    The Allies had more tanks, and as you've noted, more deadly tanks in terms of firepower. But most never saw a German tank.

                    The perfect methaphor for France 1940 is a boxing match. The Allies launch a powerful punch (movement forward into Belgium) but the Germans bob and land a solid jab to the temple (Manstein's breakthrough plan); dazed, the Allies try to defend, but the Germans never let up. The Allies never get their footing back, and though they get in a couple solid punches they never get enough breathing space to set their feet or clear their head. They are bigger and stronger, but the Germans are faster and relentless. Its not a TKO, but the Germans win on points.

                    The Germans trained for one kind of campaign, the Allies for another. The Germans were able to impose their vision of the conflict onto the field, and the was all she wrote.

                    It was not until the Allies had laborously re-structured to a similar doctrine that the tide could be turned.
                    Any man can hold his place when the bands play and women throw flowers; it is when the enemy presses close and metal shears through the ranks that one can acertain which are soldiers, and which are not.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      The doctrine thing explains why the Germans were able to achieve such a rapid victory, but do you really think France and Belgium + 10 Divisions from the UK would have been victorious with the "right" doctrine? The Germans pushed the Red Army all the way back to Stalingrad!

                      If the French had been organised along the lines you describe I think they would have been able to field less, maybe significantly less divisions than the 70 they managed historically. Unless the Germans did something stupid, ultimately they would prevail - at some point there would not be enough tanks available in the vicinity to effectively stop an attack, insufficient reserves to mount a counter, or the lines to thin to prevent a river crossing.

                      When we started having success against the Germans, not only was our doctrine better, we had numbers on our side too because three quarters of the Wermacht was in the East. If the Germans were the ones with the numerical advantage, they'd probably still have the measure of us, even in 1944.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by aodgamer View Post
                        The doctrine thing explains why the Germans were able to achieve such a rapid victory, but do you really think France and Belgium + 10 Divisions from the UK would have been victorious with the "right" doctrine? The Germans pushed the Red Army all the way back to Stalingrad!

                        If the French had been organised along the lines you describe I think they would have been able to field less, maybe significantly less divisions than the 70 they managed historically. Unless the Germans did something stupid, ultimately they would prevail - at some point there would not be enough tanks available in the vicinity to effectively stop an attack, insufficient reserves to mount a counter, or the lines to thin to prevent a river crossing.

                        When we started having success against the Germans, not only was our doctrine better, we had numbers on our side too because three quarters of the Wermacht was in the East. If the Germans were the ones with the numerical advantage, they'd probably still have the measure of us, even in 1944.
                        'The doctrine thing'

                        Doctrine is everything.

                        It is what you create, before you create an army. Rome, Napoleon...every great military won based upon its doctrine.

                        Look at the IDF: outnumvered, out-gunned, often out-equipped. Never out-fought.

                        Doctrine: it is what wins wars.

                        You can overcome bad equipment, you can overcover bad choices, but you can never win with a bad doctrine.
                        Any man can hold his place when the bands play and women throw flowers; it is when the enemy presses close and metal shears through the ranks that one can acertain which are soldiers, and which are not.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          French doctrinal choices were not "bad". Armies do not choose bad doctrines. French doctrinal development between the wars was influenced by the conscription laws, strategic forethought, industrial capacity and demographics (among others).

                          Tactically the French did not do that badly. Every major fight was hotly contested but French doctrine could not handle the tempo of the battle forced upon them by the Germans. The battle of France was lost in the 1920s but the French really did not have many choices in the decisions they made.

                          France lived in and reacted to the reality it faced 1921-39. Asking for different French decisions would require a different history of France between 1870 and 1919.
                          Last edited by The Purist; 25 Oct 13, 17:02.
                          The Purist

                          Words ought to be a little wild, for they are the assault of thoughts on the unthinking - John Maynard Keynes.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by aodgamer
                            ...When we started having success against the Germans, not only was our doctrine better, we had numbers on our side too because three quarters of the Wermacht was in the East. If the Germans were the ones with the numerical advantage, they'd probably still have the measure of us, even in 1944.
                            Actually, western Allied doctrine was not all that different from how the allies fought in 1940. The western Allies used a firepower based doctrine throughout the war, it was not a manoeuvre based method. The difference between 1940 and 1944 was the weight of that firepower and the ability to direct it. The allies used more tanks, more guns, more planes and more radios to make Methodical Battle work. But it was still methodical battle.

                            Allied/Red Army attacks went nowhere until the adequate logistics were available, the German defensive depth was penetrated and reserves exhausted. Only then could the armies sprint forward to the next defensive line where they would stop, bring up the guns and infantry, stockpile the high explosives and repeat the process.
                            Last edited by The Purist; 27 Oct 13, 10:30.
                            The Purist

                            Words ought to be a little wild, for they are the assault of thoughts on the unthinking - John Maynard Keynes.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by aodgamer View Post
                              The doctrine thing explains why the Germans were able to achieve such a rapid victory, but do you really think France and Belgium + 10 Divisions from the UK would have been victorious with the "right" doctrine? The Germans pushed the Red Army all the way back to Stalingrad!
                              The Germans pushed the Red Army all the way back to Stalingrad and lost. Blitzkrieg, as a tactic and a strategy, worked against the Allies in 1940 because the war was short and limited, both conditions for success.

                              The BEF ended up on the beach. Without that coastline, the Allies keep retreating and Blitzkrieg comes up short, as it did in the East. The Germans run out of gas and are then exposed, with long flanks, a long supply train and not enough infantry to hold the ground. If the Allies have a mobile reserve to use against the German flanks, there is every likelihood that the Germans end up in the Kessel.

                              Regards
                              Scott Fraser
                              Ignorance is not the lack of knowledge. It is the refusal to learn.

                              A contentedly cantankerous old fart

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