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  • Different pre-war French tank and air organization and tactics

    Different pre-war French tank and air organization and tactics

    Interwar period France produces tanks to fight as armored maneuver divisions, training reflects that with crews trained on how to use tanks offensively, yet understand the limits and strengths of the tanks they fought from. Instead of relying on the Maginot Line and tying up manpower there, or advancing through the Low Lands only to be cut off and encircled, they remain vigilant of a possible Ardennes advance and make sure they deploy enough tanks near the river to counterattack against any German armor. They also make sure that in the event that their armor is defeated, that no bridge is left standing over the Meuse, but before that even happens when France learns of the Army Group A's advance, the French army goes on the offensive to disrupt the German advance any possibly halt it, buying precious time for reinforcements to arrive.

    What if this happened and it worked? How would have WW2 have gone differently? Was Germany prepared to get involved into a longer western front war where France has time to mobilize and its allies time to send help? How could France and the allies try to beat or at least prevent the Luftwaffe from inflicting as much damage as it did? Putting all effort into procuring P-36's as the primary fighter plane France, attaching AAA with armor, hunting the Luftwaffe on it own turf?

    Now what about composition, France had a lot of different tanks. From
    Char's, Renault's, FCM's, AMR's, AMC's, Hotchkisses and SOMUA's. Some of these outmatched the Germans, but if you had to create an armored division out of those tanks without being underutilized as infantry support or cavalry tanks what would be your ideal composition to take on the Germans>
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  • #2
    This is complex problem.

    First, French doctrine evolved out of their late WW 1 experiences and was codified as "Methodical Battle." The whole purpose of this doctrine was to avoid heavy casualties like they took in that war. The prevailing view for the French was that the next war would bog down like the last and they'd have plenty of time after it did to devise what would work, gain allies, and build a military that was right for the new war.
    Methodical battle was a place holder in essence. The Maginot Line was part of that concept.

    The Belgians did likewise. They were allied with the British and French until a few years before WW 2. Their planning during that period was to hold up and slow a German invasion long enough for the British and French to come up and hold the line. But, they were only half committed to this plan.
    That gives me an interesting "What if..." for later...

    As for tank development, the cavalry and infantry each developed their own tanks for their mission. The S 35 and H 35 were "cavalry" tanks for example, while the Char B1 and R35 were "infantry" tanks.

    The cavalry developed three AFV for their use (without all the French naming involved here):

    Battlefield / tactical reconnaissance vehicles: The S 35 and H 35.
    Operational reconnaissance vehicles for scouting ahead of formations: The AMR series tanks.
    Deep scouting vehicles: Panhard armored cars and AMR half tracks.

    The cavalry didn't expect their formations to hold ground like a panzer division so they had small infantry components. The DLC included a large horse cavalry component because they were expected to be used in the Ardennes where it was thought horsed units would have better mobility and not be necessarily tied to roads.
    The DLC however, was a reinforced regiment masquerading as a division...

    The infantry built two types of tank... A heavy infantry tank like the D1 and 2 and the B1. These were to be essentially mobile fortresses or bunkers providing artillery support to the advancing infantry. Each B1 could be thought of as a mobile petite overage. Sort of a mini-Maginot Line fortress...
    The other vehicle was a lighter and well armored vehicle for close support. This was normally the H35. The FCM 33 was another variant. These vehicles would go forward with the infantry to closely support their advance covered by the heavier tanks.

    To get to the scenario you propose, the French Army would have had to toss out its entire doctrine, some how reconcile the various branches to cooperating, and then develop a new doctrine. Once that was in place, they could begin to design new vehicles to meet their needs.
    I doubt that inertia would allow it to have happened. Instead, I'd say the French would have been worse off and caught, like the Soviets, in a transition period and been hosed.

    Comment


    • #3
      One of the points Mays hammers on in 'Strange Victory' is how the German war games repeatedly failed to reach decisive results. Either map exercises or large scale field tests the results were poor. It did not matter if it was Mansteins original plan written in November 1939 for Army Group A, or the final Sicklecut plan finalized in March/April 1940, the plan failed each time it was tested. A wide variety of other plans were tested & all were worse, or no better.

      The one exception was the March 1940 map game at Halders HQ. In that case the controller for the Allied armies proposed slowing the reaction time of the French by 24-40 hours. The intelligence officer for Foreign Armies West argued the French leaders at the senior levels would be slower to issue orders for necessary actions. In this case the results of the March Zossen game were much better & showed that if the French leaders dithered impossibly long the Germans 'might' be able to hustle the Allies out of Belgium, and on to south of the Somme.

      Most of the Army and Army Group commanders were still pessimistic & into May thought the best case would be capturing Antwerp & a large chunk of Belgium. Kleist & Guderian were two exceptions. Both were willing to gamble on the possibility the Allied armies could be broken in half.


      Originally posted by Frtigern View Post
      Different pre-war French tank and air organization and tactics

      Interwar period France produces tanks to fight as armored maneuver divisions, training reflects that with crews trained on how to use tanks offensively, yet understand the limits and strengths of the tanks they fought from. Instead of relying on the Maginot Line and tying up manpower there, or advancing through the Low Lands only to be cut off and encircled, they remain vigilant of a possible Ardennes advance and make sure they deploy enough tanks near the river to counterattack against any German armor.

      They also make sure that in the event that their armor is defeated, that no bridge is left standing over the Meuse, but before that even happens when France learns of the Army Group A's advance, the French army goes on the offensive to disrupt the German advance any possibly halt it, buying precious time for reinforcements to arrive. [/quote]

      They did have three armored divisions in reserve near Reims, & all three were deployed with proper support to attack the bridgeheads on the Meuse River. Unfortunatly all were deployed 24-48 hours too late. The senior French generals, particularly Georges & his staff, dithered for two days while the Kleists tank group raced through the Ardennes. had the French plan been executed properly The three crossing made by Kleists Pz Group. would have been hist early on, each by a powerful corps formed around a well trained first rate 'Active' infantry division, one of the DCR type armored divisions, and a robust corps artillery support Groupement. As it was the German tank corps crossed against thin & underprepared positions of second or third rate units.

      What if this happened and it worked? How would have WW2 have gone differently? Was Germany prepared to get involved into a longer western front war where France has time to mobilize and its allies time to send help? How could France and the allies try to beat or at least prevent the Luftwaffe from inflicting as much damage as it did? Putting all effort into procuring P-36's as the primary fighter plane France, attaching AAA with armor, hunting the Luftwaffe on it own turf?

      Now what about composition, France had a lot of different tanks. From
      Char's, Renault's, FCM's, AMR's, AMC's, Hotchkisses and SOMUA's. Some of these outmatched the Germans, but if you had to create an armored division out of those tanks without being underutilized as infantry support or cavalry tanks what would be your ideal composition to take on the Germans>
      Once the Germans are stopped by a solid defense it become a attritional battle, or more accurately a artillery battle. The French corps and field armies out gunned the German equivalents by some 50% in cannon. At the cutting edge it was worse. Kleists Pz Group of seven PzDiv & three corps HQ had exactly two heavy artillery battalions to support it. The French had over 24 enroute to oppose Kleist. At the division level the French had a ratio of nearly 3-1 vs Kleists Group.

      For a extended attritional battle France alone had nearly double the artillery ammunition reserves and its factory output in May was far larger.

      In the air there was the same problem. Intially the Germans had a considerable operational & tactical superiority. That was due in allarge part to having both operational and tactical surprise. The French had withdrawn over a third of its air groups , those with the obsolete aircraft, in anticipation of some 900 new aircraft becoming serviceable in May and June, & more in July.

      As it was the German air force had a short term loss of 40% in May June 1940 & by the Battle of Britain start had recovered to roughly 80% of its strength of 9 May. The French alone were capable of putting over 1100 new aircraft in action by mid August along with full aircrew from their reserve. The Germans who had shut down their training schools and aircraft production in April provided only some 700 rebuilt and new aircraft in the same months. Throw in British numbers & the attritional problem of the Germans becomes clear.

      Comment


      • #4
        To balance that out ...

        ... I give you some of Marc Bloch's conclusions from his immortal "Strange Defeat"; no discussion of France 1940, should be without it. I think I can speak for Bloch in saying that a different pre-war French tank and air organization and tactics will not make any difference at all, the problems with the French were at a higher level, and they make German tactical and logistical concerns look trivial in comparison.


        "When, therefore, after the first setbacks, murmurs began to get around that perhaps the High Command was not wholly blameless, to whom did the Army turn in its search for young blood and energetic leadership? The Chief of Staff of one of the generalissimos of the former war was made Commander-in-Chief, while another of those generalissimos was appointed as his technical adviser. The first of these gentlemen had held the post of Vice-President of the War Council, the second, at about the same time, had been Minister for War. In other words, both of them had been in some degree responsible for the very methods which had just been proved to be so shatteringly inadequate.

        So completely dominated were our military, and even our civil, governors by the superstition of age, and by the respect due to a prestige which, though certainly venerable, ought, if only for its own self-protection, to have been laid in the purple shroud befitting dead gods, that they became the victims of a false cult, and bowed in homage to an incarnation of experience which, just because it drew its so-called lessons from the past, was almost bound to misinterpret the present. True, one of the more recently promoted Generals of Brigade was called in to advise the Government, but what did he do? I do not actually know, but I very much fear that among the glorious constellations of that much-studded sky, his two poor little stars did not shine very brightly. The Committee of Public Safety would have made him Commander-in-Chief.

        As it was, our war, up to the very end, was a war of old men, or of theorists who were bogged down in errors engendered by the faulty teaching of history. It was saturated by the smell of decay rising from the Staff College, the offices of a peace-time General Staff, and the barrack-square. The world belongs to those who are in love with the new. That is why our High Command, finding itself face to face with novelty, and being quite incapable of seizing its opportunities, not only experienced defeat, but, like boxers who have run to fat and are thrown off their balance by the first unexpected blow, accepted it."
        "I am Groot"
        - Groot

        Comment


        • #5
          In light of those insights then, what would happen if the Chief of Staff and all flag officers over 45 were sacked and those young up and coming officers who may have served in the trenches with the men they were commanding were put in charge? They saw the horrors of WWI first hand but also saw the opportunities that armor and aircraft would play, working to make sure that armor and aircraft research, production and training was priority. Maybe they wouldn't hesitate like the older officers. Maybe they would be more like the German officers in charge who disobeyed orders and took initiative.
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          Comment


          • #6
            The Aiiles were utterly smashed in the air. You mention that the LW lost 40% downed or damaged, what was left of France's airpower by then?
            Yes, the UK was in better shape, because they wisely withheld their last 25 squadrons of fighters for the defense of their own nation.

            The long Phony War had a catastrophic effect on Allied morale', while the Germans held one exercise after another, building themselves up for the offensive that only their side was willing to begin, the French and British sat in muddy trenches or frozen dugouts. They waited, and waited.... and waited...
            Not good, not good at all.

            And the Political leadership was hideous, just awful. Reynaud was the best of them, and even he could not withstand the tide of defeatism that swept his cabinet.

            Nor the incompetence.
            The decision that Paris would be declared and Open City was not communicated to the people of Paris (including the ones running it!) until two days after Weygand made that decision... and he had been in Paris when he made it!

            Honestly, what on Earth do you think you can do with leadership like that?
            "Why is the Rum gone?"

            -Captain Jack

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by The Exorcist View Post
              The Aiiles were utterly smashed in the air. You mention that the LW lost 40% downed or damaged, what was left of France's airpower by then?
              France took in 300 modern aircraft from the US in April/May, 300 more were enroute in late May & early June. The factories were finally starting large scale production that spring, after several years reorganization & retooling for modern aircraft. I don't have confirmed figures for French factory deliveries April-June. One secondary source suggests four hundred. Another places it around six hundred. Its not clear if that was to be only airframes, or actual combat ready aircraft.

              July through December another 1,200 were scheduled for delivery from the US, French production appears to have been planned at at least 50% higher than that.

              In terms of aircrew France had a larger reserve of pilots, it had been training then steadily through the 1930s. The Germans had not reached full training output until 1938. Their reserve was less & was rapidly dwindling. This was aggravated by that the German training program was shut down so the instructors could fill out combat units. Both France & Britain had their flight schools in full operation during the battle.

              The core problem for the French air force is it was caught wrong footed on 10 May. Over a third of the air groups had been stood down from late March for transition to the arriving modern machines. Precisely how useful those 700+ elderly machines would have been is a open question. However it is a fact the French put over 300 new aircraft into action during the six weeks battle & had at least that many ready to commit when the cease fire came. meanwhile the Germans were stuck with curtailed factory output & what wrecked machines that could be restored. It telling that when the BoB started in August the German air force had not yet been restored to its strength of 10 May.


              And the Political leadership was hideous, just awful. Reynaud was the best of them, and even he could not withstand the tide of defeatism that swept his cabinet.
              No argument there. The leaders were not prepared for the situation they faced.

              Renaud had been preparing for wholesale replacement during the winter. It took considerable effort to prepare the way, both among the Cabinet & the Deputies. He might have been able to 'retire' Gamelin in April, but that he suffered from a respiratory infection for a couple weeks and lost time. With Gamelin gone replacement of the old crocks would have been much easier.

              Unfortunatly the clock ran out.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by Marmat View Post
                ... I give you some of Marc Bloch's conclusions from his immortal "Strange Defeat";
                It really useful despite that Bloch lacked access to a sizable portion of the French records, and lack depth in understanding the German side of it.

                Originally posted by Frtigern View Post
                In light of those insights then, what would happen if the Chief of Staff and all flag officers over 45 were sacked and those young up and coming officers who may have served in the trenches with the men they were commanding were put in charge? They saw the horrors of WWI first hand but also saw the opportunities that armor and aircraft would play, working to make sure that armor and aircraft research, production and training was priority. Maybe they wouldn't hesitate like the older officers. Maybe they would be more like the German officers in charge who disobeyed orders and took initiative.
                They still have to overcome the poor training of the ground forces during the 1930s. Because the French government refused to use deficit spending or to fund training with a tax increase the Army was left with a budget inadequate to completely train the conscripts and officers. i.e.: The reduction of initial conscript service from 24 to 18 months. This was partially corrected after the Cezch crisis & the younger men comprising the first echelon 'Active' series formations were fairly well trained. However the rest of the army required extended remedial training. Many of the 'Series A' formation had completed this during the winter of 1939/40 & were fairly well prepared but others were not. The Series B formations were wholly inadequate in terms of tactical and operational skills. So were the new formations created after the DoW in 1939.

                As with almost everything else it came down to the clock running out just a few months too soon.

                Comment


                • #9
                  I read once a while back a look into pre war french training/term of service programs, and it was like horrendous, it was like a year long and half of it was filled with things like guard duty and leave time, with little time devoted to actually training.

                  I also heard that part of the issue with France was not that their equipment was bad per say but that no one knew how to use it, due in part by bad training, their was also horrible communications bottlenecks, so information was slow in reaching the guys who needed it, so that when the French did react it was often a day or two late.

                  Any truth to this?

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Frtigern View Post
                    Different pre-war French tank and air organization and tactics

                    Interwar period France produces tanks to fight as armored maneuver divisions, training reflects that with crews trained on how to use tanks offensively, yet understand the limits and strengths of the tanks they fought from. Instead of relying on the Maginot Line and tying up manpower there, or advancing through the Low Lands only to be cut off and encircled, they remain vigilant of a possible Ardennes advance and make sure they deploy enough tanks near the river to counterattack against any German armor. They also make sure that in the event that their armor is defeated, that no bridge is left standing over the Meuse, but before that even happens when France learns of the Army Group A's advance, the French army goes on the offensive to disrupt the German advance any possibly halt it, buying precious time for reinforcements to arrive.

                    What if this happened and it worked? How would have WW2 have gone differently? Was Germany prepared to get involved into a longer western front war where France has time to mobilize and its allies time to send help? How could France and the allies try to beat or at least prevent the Luftwaffe from inflicting as much damage as it did? Putting all effort into procuring P-36's as the primary fighter plane France, attaching AAA with armor, hunting the Luftwaffe on it own turf?

                    Now what about composition, France had a lot of different tanks. From
                    Char's, Renault's, FCM's, AMR's, AMC's, Hotchkisses and SOMUA's. Some of these outmatched the Germans, but if you had to create an armored division out of those tanks without being underutilized as infantry support or cavalry tanks what would be your ideal composition to take on the Germans>
                    The German advance in 1940 was mainly succesful because the Allies never managed to launch a coordinated counterattack against the flanks of the German spearpoint.

                    A strong counterattack would have made a big difference. The improvised attack at Arras (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Arras_(1940)) made some initial gains. A larger version of this, is what I have in mind.

                    The problem is that Allied armour was dispersed and the Germans could take out one division at a time.

                    The British 1st Armoured was still in the UK. The 1st DLM rushed towards Breda. The 2nd and 3rd DLM rushed towards Gembloux. The 3 DCR's were killed off one at a time while trying to stop the German attack.

                    Belgium had 42 light tanks model T-15, 8 operational ACG-1 tanks, and 250 or more T-13 tank hunters. All the tanks and about 70 tankhunters were concentrated in the motorised Cavalry Corps and the mobile 1st Chasseurs Ardennais division. The T-13 was armed with a powerful 47mm anti-tankgun, but lightly armoured.

                    Belgium really should have had one armoured division with real tanks.
                    Attempts to buy the Vickers 6 ton or the ACG-1 failed. With one armoured division, they could have slowed the German attack at Gembloux by theirselves. This frees up the 2nd and 3rd DLM.

                    The French advance towards Breda was a dumb waste of resources. Scrap that, freeing up the 1st DLM (the best one).

                    Send the British 1st armoured division to France. Keep the 3 French DCR's ready.

                    Now you have 3 French DLM's, 3 French DCR's and 1 British armoured division and possibly a few motorised infantry divisions as a strategic reserve.

                    The German armoured divisions head for the coast. These seven allied armoured divisions counterattack in their flank.

                    *Best case scenario, the Panzerdivisionen are cut off and destroyed.
                    *Alternative scenario, the Panzerdivisionen pull back to face the allied attack. A new stable frontline emerges near the French-Belgian border.

                    In 1942 Stalins Red Army burns down Berlin.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by F2000 View Post
                      The German advance in 1940 was mainly succesful because the Allies never managed to launch a coordinated counterattack against the flanks of the German spearpoint.
                      That was mainly because French doctrine and military organization was pathetically slow and completely top - down in nature. By the time they were ready to do something the situation had changed so dramatically that their plan was now useless.

                      A strong counterattack would have made a big difference. The improvised attack at Arras (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Arras_(1940)) made some initial gains. A larger version of this, is what I have in mind.

                      The problem is that Allied armour was dispersed and the Germans could take out one division at a time.
                      No, the problem at Arras was two fold. The British infantry tank brigade was mostly equipped with Matilda I's with a .303 machinegun for armament (some had a .50 instead). The number of Matilda II's present was in the teens.
                      The British alone had no effective way to overrun a whole German panzer division. Even a decent infantry division would have absorbed the blow and stopped the counterattack.

                      The French 2nd DLM was supposed to take part but the just over 24 hours available to get ready was too short for the French unit to deploy and actually get into action so the British forwent their support. This was one more example of how horribly slow and bad Methodical Battle doctrine had crippled the French Army.

                      The British 1st Armoured was still in the UK. The 1st DLM rushed towards Breda. The 2nd and 3rd DLM rushed towards Gembloux. The 3 DCR's were killed off one at a time while trying to stop the German attack.
                      And, the 1st Armored was a travesty at the time. It mostly had Mk VI light tanks and the cruisers were in many cases less than fully equipped. Some didn't even have their armament installed yet. The division "support group" with the artillery, what infantry support was provided, and other services was pulled from the division and sent elsewhere separately.

                      The French armored formations were destroyed in the main because of their plodding, hesitant tactical use. This isn't the individual crew's fault. They fought bravely. It's their officer's fault. They were sent into combat using the tactics and training that came from Methodical Battle doctrine. That pretty much ensured they'd lose the battlefield even if they gave the Germans a bloody nose.

                      Belgium had 42 light tanks model T-15, 8 operational ACG-1 tanks, and 250 or more T-13 tank hunters. All the tanks and about 70 tankhunters were concentrated in the motorised Cavalry Corps and the mobile 1st Chasseurs Ardennais division. The T-13 was armed with a powerful 47mm anti-tankgun, but lightly armoured.

                      Belgium really should have had one armoured division with real tanks.
                      Attempts to buy the Vickers 6 ton or the ACG-1 failed. With one armoured division, they could have slowed the German attack at Gembloux by theirselves. This frees up the 2nd and 3rd DLM.
                      I doubt Belgium could have afforded one. Had the fortress line at Liege held, the Germans would have been delayed about 48 to 96 hours getting deep into Belgium. That was why taking out Eben Emael was so critical to the German plan. Some of the other forts in that system survived for days under heavy bombardment before surrendering.

                      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fort_d...ufch%C3%A2teau

                      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fort_de_Tancr%C3%A9mont

                      The French advance towards Breda was a dumb waste of resources. Scrap that, freeing up the 1st DLM (the best one).
                      By doctrine, the DLM's were to screen the advance of the French main body. They spread out into Belgium to accomplish the mission given them. To alter that means altering French doctrine.

                      Send the British 1st armoured division to France. Keep the 3 French DCR's ready.
                      The 1st Armored division was, as I stated, a travesty. It was nowhere near ready for deployment to France.
                      Last edited by T. A. Gardner; 25 Sep 16, 16:00.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Nebfer View Post
                        ....

                        I also heard that part of the issue with France was not that their equipment was bad per say
                        That is true, as far as the tanks were concerned. Aside from the drawbacks of the silly one-man turret, they were well-armored and armed respectably, and there reliability wasn't that much worse than current British or Soviet tanks.
                        In fact, in 1940, the heavy French tanks must have looked like world-beaters, what with the 75mm howitzer that was primarily operated by the Driver, and a 47mm gun in the turret up above to beat off any enemy tanks while the bigger gun pounded the enemy trenches.
                        Yes, trenches, see below.


                        Originally posted by Nebfer View Post
                        but that no one knew how to use it...?
                        I'm sure that most of them had a good idea of how to use all their gear... on a 1918 battlefield.

                        It wasn't just the fact that an army trains to win the last war, they all go that.
                        I think it was also wishful thinking; the French didn't just believe that they could win a war like that against Germany, they knew that they could, from experience.

                        Now, all you folks out there; how would you go about convincing these people that they had to train to fight a very different sort of war? How do you think you might have done better than a young De'Gaule?
                        "Why is the Rum gone?"

                        -Captain Jack

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Frtigern View Post
                          Different pre-war French tank and air organization and tactics

                          Interwar period France produces tanks to fight as armored maneuver divisions, training reflects that with crews trained on how to use tanks offensively, yet understand the limits and strengths of the tanks they fought from. Instead of relying on the Maginot Line ....
                          Getting to this comes from a set of interconnected POD in the 1920s. Several political & economic/social factors affected the direction of French military doctrine and preparation through the 1930s.

                          First was the failure of the former Entente partners to support France and Belgium in their 1923-24 effort to enforce the Versailles Treaty. Politically the Ruhr occupation was a catastrophy for France. The French leaders drew the conclusion that any future conflict with Germany would be France without any major powers as allies.

                          Second was a the declining French population. A bloodletting on the scale of the Great War would destroy France as a great power. Casualties on the scale of 1918 would be a stratigic defeat even if France 'won' a second war with Germany.

                          Third was the economic cost of keeping a army capable of a rapid offensive against Germany. This went beyond having a fair sized standing army and well trained reservists. Tho those two were expensive. Keeping industry in reserve, able to rapidly convert to war production would be economicly crippling.

                          This left the politicians or War Ministry with the following course.

                          1. The Army could not be armed or ready for early offensive action. It would have to complete its training IF a war started. Ditto for full armament.

                          2. Defense measures would have priority. It was simpler and cheaper to focus peace time training on a defensive battle. Building a zone of fortifications enabled undertrained reservists to defend, and halved the number of battalions needed to defend the zone.

                          If you can get around the problem the Ruhr occupation created for the French leaders then perhaps they will opt for preemptive intervention again vs Germany. That requires a army capable of rapid offensive action. Of course this means that nazi revanchism will be stuff in 1936 when a powerfull French Force de Intervention chases the six German regiments back across the Rhine bridges.

                          Another way is to get rid of Gamelin before 1936. The French Marshals were not all clones & it is likely that others in the top positions will take a more flexible view of things. In the early & mid 1930s Weygand had been pushing for the possibilities in massed mechanized formations. Both the motorization of the French army and the early experiments with armored divisions came from that era. Absent Gamelin other French Marshals may have chosen to trade off a dozen divisions of reserve infantry, or completion of a CORF fortress to field multiple armored divisions vs just one DLM.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            One problem with replacing Gamelin with one of the generals associated with Weygand was that several of those were deeply and perhaps correctly suspected by left-wing politicians of political disloyalty. According to The Republic in Danger: General Maurice Gamelin and the Politics of French Defence, 19331940 by Martin S. Alexander https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=...ladier&f=false, Gamelin made a deal with Blum that the Army would keep out of politics and that politics, the example given was an attempt by members of the Popular Front to recruit non-commissioned officers, would be kept out of the Army.

                            My argument that suspicion of Weygand was partially justified comes mostly from his role in the end of the Third Republic in 1940 as related in End of the Affair: The Collapse of the Anglo-French Alliance, 1939-40 by Eleanor M. Gates https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=...eygand&f=false.

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