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What were WWII’s most viable ‘greatest missed opportunities’?

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  • Originally posted by ljadw View Post
    The German breakthrough south of the Meuse,far away from Antwerp, far away from Brussels, was no danger for the allied forces in Antwerp and Brussels ,and was thus no reason to abandon these cities .
    Are you blind? Look at the map. If the British and French had remained on the Dyle there was nothing to stop the Kleist Group swinging north, direction Ghent, and trapping the whole lot of them!

    Comment


    • The breakthrough south of the Meuse did not endanger Antwerp, the French did not give up Reims when the Germans were in Abbeville ,thus why should the allies give up Antwerp or Brussels when the Germans were going away from Antwerp or Brussels ?

      Comment


      • Originally posted by Gooner View Post

        Are you blind? Look at the map. If the British and French had remained on the Dyle there was nothing to stop the Kleist Group swinging north, direction Ghent, and trapping the whole lot of them!
        NOTHING ??? And the distance ? 250 km between Abbeville ant Antwerp : that is nothing ?There was time enough for the allies if Kleist was moving north,after going to Abbeville : time enough to stop the German advance, time enough to escape via Antwerp or Ostend .
        If the Dyle line was that strong, there was no reason for the Frenchand the BEF to hurry north to the Dyle line: the Belgians ( 22 divisions ) ,2 X the BEF ,would be strong enough to defend the Dyle line .
        The Albert Canal fortifications were much stronger than the Dyle line, and stopped the Germans only one day ,thus why would the Dyle line stop the Germans much longer ?

        Comment


        • Originally posted by T. A. Gardner View Post
          The problem with the Belgian fortress system was the forts were weaker in terms of survivability than the French Maginot Line along with their firepower being far less and not able to fully cover adjoining fortresses. The Belgians expected these forts and their army to hold the Germans long enough in front of Liege to allow the French and British to reinforce them.

          The weakest link in the chain is Eben Emael. It covered the Albert Canal and closed off (supposedly) being able to outflank the position to the North. Germany took out the fort and was forced to invade the Netherlands to outflank the Liege position, which they did. That in turn, put them deep into Belgium before the French and British could move up and establish their defense line.
          Construction and planning of the forts (and associated battle plans) started when Belgium was still an allied power, when policy was reversed in 1936, battle plans were never revised, the French sat on the border as if it was still 1930, ready to enact an obsolete plan, without taking into account the loss of Belgian military cooperation.

          Of course - the end of Franco-Belgian alliance also had other, more practical consequences, French subsidies for the fortifications ended for example - and the forts on the Meuse were never fully finished, nor was the line ever adequately manned, or covered.


          The Belgium question in French strategic planning and ... - SFU Summit






          High Admiral Snowy, Commander In Chief of the Naval Forces of The Phoenix Confederation.
          Major Atticus Finch - ACW Rainbow Co.

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          • Originally posted by ljadw View Post

            NOTHING ??? And the distance ? 250 km between Abbeville ant Antwerp : that is nothing ?There was time enough for the allies if Kleist was moving north,after going to Abbeville : time enough to stop the German advance, time enough to escape via Antwerp or Ostend .
            Actually it was about 240 odd kilometres from Philippevile, where the Germans had reached by the 16th May, to Calais.
            And only 140 kilometres to Ghent.


            If the Dyle line was that strong, there was no reason for the Frenchand the BEF to hurry north to the Dyle line: the Belgians ( 22 divisions ) ,2 X the BEF ,would be strong enough to defend the Dyle line .
            The Albert Canal fortifications were much stronger than the Dyle line, and stopped the Germans only one day ,thus why would the Dyle line stop the Germans much longer ?
            That really is spectacularly stupid. The Germans dear, the Germans.

            Comment


            • Originally posted by Gooner View Post

              Actually it was about 240 odd kilometres from Philippevile, where the Germans had reached by the 16th May, to Calais.
              And only 140 kilometres to Ghent.




              That really is spectacularly stupid. The Germans dear, the Germans.
              I have the strange suspicion you are fighting a losing battle, Gooner…
              The trout who swims against the current gets the most oxygen..

              Comment


              • Originally posted by Gooner View Post

                Actually it was about 240 odd kilometres from Philippevile, where the Germans had reached by the 16th May, to Calais.
                And only 140 kilometres to Ghent.




                That really is spectacularly stupid. The Germans dear, the Germans.
                When the Germans were at Abbeville,they were 250 km (as the crow flies ) away from Antwerp . The allies knew that the Germans were going to the Channel, not to Ghent ,and that they had all opportunity to escape if they could remain at the Dyle .
                The Germans being at Abbeville did not mean that the allied forces at the Dyle Line were encircled ,the more the allies were withdrawing to the south,the bigger the risk of encirclment .The German plan was that AGB would be the hammer and AGA the anvil, and that AGB would force the allies to withdraw to the south , to the anvil ,because if hammer and anvil were far away from each other, they were useless .The allied retreat played in the hands of the Germans, and as the allied commanders were not stupid, the conclusion was that they were forced to retreat .

                Comment


                • Originally posted by Snowygerry View Post

                  Construction and planning of the forts (and associated battle plans) started when Belgium was still an allied power, when policy was reversed in 1936, battle plans were never revised, the French sat on the border as if it was still 1930, ready to enact an obsolete plan, without taking into account the loss of Belgian military cooperation.

                  Of course - the end of Franco-Belgian alliance also had other, more practical consequences, French subsidies for the fortifications ended for example - and the forts on the Meuse were never fully finished, nor was the line ever adequately manned, or covered.


                  The Belgium question in French strategic planning and ... - SFU Summit





                  The French plan was not obsolete , as there was no alternative : the French could never be at the Albert Canal before the Germans . They planned to go to the Dyle, or even not farther than the Scheldt .
                  About what happened in 1936 : the importance of the Belgian neutrality was mostly a hype .Even if the alliance with France had not been abandoned ( it was de facto already abandoned before 1936 ) ,it was excluded that Belgium would declare war on Germany in September 1939 .
                  The French needed a German invasion of Belgium , but this invasion depended on the Germans . On the Germans only .

                  Comment


                  • Originally posted by ljadw View Post
                    The French plan was not obsolete , as there was no alternative : the French could never be at the Albert Canal before the Germans . They planned to go to the Dyle, or even not farther than the Scheldt .
                    For the French ?

                    There was at least one other alternative : do not advance into Belgium at all, but await the Germans on good defendable ground in France, with plenty of reserves behind your line, but they remained committed to the idea of the "continuous front" along (Belgian) river lines, even when the political and diplomatic situation had changed.

                    I agree with Leach quoted above, when he writes :

                    The French belief in Belgian cooperation was originally exaggerated, later erroneous, and was finally based on wishful thinking.

                    At any rate - the point is that there's no way understand events of 1940 from a strictly military pov. - politics determined the state of defences, location, readiness of forts, and deployment of units, more so than any military considerations.

                    We tend to see the campaign of 1940 in the light of everything that came after, count Brits, French, Belgians, Dutch as if they were a singular force with a common goal, a coordinated defence plan,

                    but as late as 1939 Belgian commanders made serious plans to defend against a *French* attack (supposedly to allow them take up better positions against the Germans) and troops were moved and locally mobilized accordingly.

                    Belgian neutrality was mostly a hype..
                    Maybe yes, but it certainly had an effect on military planning of all concerned.
                    Last edited by Snowygerry; 26 Jun 19, 04:15.
                    High Admiral Snowy, Commander In Chief of the Naval Forces of The Phoenix Confederation.
                    Major Atticus Finch - ACW Rainbow Co.

                    Comment


                    • Originally posted by Snowygerry View Post

                      For the French ?

                      There was at least one other alternative : do not advance into Belgium at all, but await the Germans on good defendable ground in France, with plenty of reserves behind your line, but they remained committed to the idea of the "continuous front" along (Belgian) river lines, even when the political and diplomatic situation had changed.

                      I
                      French planning since the early 20s had concentrated on fighting the War in Belgium - it was all their staff knew. The reasoning was relatively simple

                      To fight in France would probably mean loosing a large chunk of French industrial capacity. France could not afford to have her primary industrial areas trashed the way they were in 1914 -1918.
                      Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe (H G Wells)
                      Mit der Dummheit kaempfen Goetter selbst vergebens (Friedrich von Schiller)

                      Comment


                      • Originally posted by MarkV View Post
                        French planning since the early 20s had concentrated on fighting the War in Belgium - it was all their staff knew. The reasoning was relatively simple

                        To fight in France would probably mean loosing a large chunk of French industrial capacity. France could not afford to have her primary industrial areas trashed the way they were in 1914 -1918.
                        Yes I understand - neither could Belgium, that's why the Dyle line was never seriously fortified by Belgian command,

                        from a Belgian perspective it was useless to stop the Germans there.

                        But at least in "military theory" there was an alternative to the French "Belgium Manoeuvre" - whether or not it was politically feasible is another matter.
                        High Admiral Snowy, Commander In Chief of the Naval Forces of The Phoenix Confederation.
                        Major Atticus Finch - ACW Rainbow Co.

                        Comment


                        • Originally posted by Snowygerry View Post

                          For the French ?

                          There was at least one other alternative : do not advance into Belgium at all, but await the Germans on good defendable ground in France, with plenty of reserves behind your line, but they remained committed to the idea of the "continuous front" along (Belgian) river lines, even when the political and diplomatic situation had changed.

                          I agree with Leach quoted above, when he writes :




                          At any rate - the point is that there's no way understand events of 1940 from a strictly military pov. - politics determined the state of defences, location, readiness of forts, and deployment of units, more so than any military considerations.

                          We tend to see the campaign of 1940 in the light of everything that came after, count Brits, French, Belgians, Dutch as if they were a singular force with a common goal, a coordinated defence plan,

                          but as late as 1939 Belgian commanders made serious plans to defend against a *French* attack (supposedly to allow them take up better positions against the Germans) and troops were moved and locally mobilized accordingly.



                          Maybe yes, but it certainly had an effect on military planning of all concerned.
                          You don't get it : the French could not wait on the Germans on good defendable ground in France, with plenty reserves behind,because they had not the means to fortify the border with Belgium and because they had not the forces to defend this border . There was only one option : go to the north to diminish the frontline ( crow distance Dunkirk-Sedan is 235 km, crow distance Antwerp -Charleroi is 85 km ) ,and there were 2 additional benefits : 22 Belgian divisions , more than half of the French strength on the Belgian border and, what the French believed to be a second Albert Canal ,but which did not exist .
                          The French could chose :
                          defend a frontier which was not fortified,of 235 km with 38 divisions
                          or
                          defend a frontline which they believed was fortified ,of 85 km with 60 divisions .
                          What was the best option ?

                          Comment


                          • Originally posted by ljadw View Post
                            22 Belgian divisions , more than half of the French strength on the Belgian border and, what the French believed to be a second Albert Canal ,but which did not exist .
                            Well yes, to just add 22 Belgian divisions to the French and to assume they would operate as one army, was "wishful thinking" imho as stated above, given the political situation in Belgium and lack of military cooperation and coordination.

                            What was the best option ?
                            For whom ?

                            For the French it would have been better to plan for a quick defeat of the Belgian army,

                            plan for the worst, hope for the best

                            That's easy to say now of course.
                            Last edited by Snowygerry; 26 Jun 19, 07:49.
                            High Admiral Snowy, Commander In Chief of the Naval Forces of The Phoenix Confederation.
                            Major Atticus Finch - ACW Rainbow Co.

                            Comment


                            • Originally posted by Snowygerry View Post

                              Yes I understand - neither could Belgium, that's why the Dyle line was never seriously fortified by Belgian command,

                              from a Belgian perspective it was useless to stop the Germans there.

                              But at least in "military theory" there was an alternative to the French "Belgium Manoeuvre" - whether or not it was politically feasible is another matter.
                              My point is that it was also military infeasible - at least in the time available - not without being able to first retrain every French officer who had been on staff training since about 1925. Every thing was set up for an advance into Belgium right down to the planning for the positioning of fuel dumps. There was nothing for anything else
                              Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe (H G Wells)
                              Mit der Dummheit kaempfen Goetter selbst vergebens (Friedrich von Schiller)

                              Comment


                              • Originally posted by Snowygerry View Post

                                Yes I understand - neither could Belgium, that's why the Dyle line was never seriously fortified by Belgian command,
                                Much of the Dyle line was fortified, albeit much of the defences were built from September '39 to May '40, as indeed they were on the French-Belgian border.
                                image014.jpg

                                from a Belgian perspective it was useless to stop the Germans there.

                                But at least in "military theory" there was an alternative to the French "Belgium Manoeuvre" - whether or not it was politically feasible is another matter.
                                The best place to stop the Germans would have been on the Albert Canal line, but that would have involved inviting the British and French armies in.

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