Why France Collapsed
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subservient to the politicians who courted an electorate which loathed war but was not ready to pay for peace, while an out-of-date armament industry existed on high protective tariffs.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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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...
The End of Gamelin and Arrival of Weygand 1719
The British atArras 2021 May 16 The Widening oftheGap
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
Army GroupTwo Isolated 1315 June
B The German Forces C The British Expeditionary Force
10th Panzer Division afternoon Aisne andthe antitank guns armoured cars armoured divisions Army Group ArmyGroup artillery attack atthe battalions Belgian Billotte Blanchard bombers bridgehead bridges brigade British bythe Canal Chasseurs Colonial commander CommanderinChief Corps counterattack crossed Daladier defences DemiBrigade Dunkirk duringthe enemy evacuation fighting force fortress France French fromthe frontier Gamelin German German armour Gort Guderian’s hadbeen headquarters hehad hewas Hotchkiss Huntziger infantry infantry divisions Infantry Regiment inthe Itwas June kilometres Laurencie Light Armoured machinegun Maginot Maginot Line Maubeuge Meuse Minister Monthermé Montmédy morning Moroccans Motorized night Ninth Army North African officers ofthe Oise onthe ordered Panzer Division Panzer Korps Paris Pétain Philippeville Prételat reached reconnaissance group Renault reserve retreat Reynaud river road Rommel Second Army Seventh Army Somme Spahis squadrons staff tanks thatthe the14th the2nd the3rd theBritish theFrench theGerman therewere tobe tothe troops twentyfour wasnot Weygand withdrawal withthe X Corps XXIII Corps