Why France Collapsed

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A&C Black, Sep 28, 2011 - History - 415 pages
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The history of the conquest of Gaul, it has been said, would be far more obscure if twenty of Caesar's generals had written commentaries. In June 1940 the armies of France, Great Britain and Belgium succumbed to the onslaught of the German armies in less than six weeks. How this could have come about has hardly been illuminated by the accusations and counter-accusations of prominent French politicians and senior officers. The crossfire of charges is as blinding as a hailstorm.

This book is a bold attempt to clarify responsibilities and to answer the question of how an army-not greatly inferior to the enemy's and only ten years before believed to be the strongest in Europe- met such an ignominious defeat. First it tells the story of the reconstitution of the army after 1919 and of the French defence preparations. It shows the chiefs' of staff lack of imagination: how dull were their analyses of the recent war, how blind they were to the outside world, how negligent of such matters as the increase in speeds and range of armaments, how incurious as to their enemies, and how subservient to the politicians who courted an electorate which loathed war but was not ready to pay for peace, while an out-of-date armament industry existed on high protective tariffs. In 1939 France had an army and an air force trained for defeat.
  

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Contents

Preface Part I The Withered Laurels
The Quavering Hands
The Returnto the Middle Ages
The Baulking of Weygand
The Surrender ofthe Rhineland Outwork 5 Armsfor Defeat
The Betrayal ofanAlly 7 On the Brink Part II Drôle de Guerre
The Lossof aSecondAlly 2 Illusions and Disillusion 3 Deficiencies and Defects 4 Forecasts and Plans
The Eleventh Hour Part IIIThe Disaster 1 The Seventh Armyand the Islands 1017
Dismemberment ofthe Ninth Army 1315
The Splitting of theCentre 1316 May 9 The Disarming ofthe 2nd Armoured Division 1321 May 10 The End of theNinth Army 1519 May 11 The Lo...
Stopgaps 1620
The End of Gamelin and Arrival of Weygand 1719
The British atArras 2021 May 16 The Widening oftheGap
1723
Consultationsand Orders 1923 May 18 Confused Discussion 2326 May 19 The Retreat Lilleand Dunkirk 26 May2
Failure on the Somme 25 May4

The First Army and the DyleLine 1014 May 3 The Meuse Dinant 13
The Meuse Sedan 1014
The MeuseMonthermé 1315
G Q G Action 13
Paris Evacuated
Army GroupTwo Isolated 1315 June
B The German Forces C The British Expeditionary Force
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About the author (2011)

Guy Chapman (1889-1972) was born in London and educated at Oxford where he trained to be a lawyer. When war was declared he joined the Royal Fusiliers and served on the Western Front, surviving a mustard gas attack. Chapman also served in World War II. Following the First World War, he worked as an editor for several publishing houses where he met his wife, writer Storm Jameson before becoming Professor of Modern History, University of Leeds, 1945-53, and later a visiting Professor, University of Pittsburgh, 1948-9.

Having trained as a lawyer, Chapman's chief literary works from the 1930s onwards analyzed French political system and modern French history, and his time in war.

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