How do you think France could've prevented their loss

Discussion in 'Aviation' started by B-17engineer, Jan 3, 2008.

  1. B-17engineer

    B-17engineer Active Member

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2007
    Messages:
    14,953
    Likes Received:
    13
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Occupation:
    model builder
    Location:
    Revis Island.
    I believe that either massive counter attacks and not letting the Germans walk right around the Maginot line would stop. ALso more fighters to meet the Germans..........what are your thoughts...........
     
  2. DerAdlerIstGelandet

    DerAdlerIstGelandet Der Crew Chief
    Staff Member Moderator

    Joined:
    Nov 8, 2004
    Messages:
    41,767
    Likes Received:
    684
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Occupation:
    A&P - Aircraft Technician
    Location:
    USA/Germany
    In this case the best defense would have been an offense.
     
  3. B-17engineer

    B-17engineer Active Member

    Joined:
    Dec 9, 2007
    Messages:
    14,953
    Likes Received:
    13
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Occupation:
    model builder
    Location:
    Revis Island.
  4. timshatz

    timshatz Active Member

    Joined:
    Mar 29, 2006
    Messages:
    4,441
    Likes Received:
    3
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Occupation:
    MGR
    Location:
    Phila, Pa
    Or they could've moved the entire country west of Ireland.

    Just kidding.

    Not much would've helped the French. Just an opinion, but the Nazis invaded every country they bordered (and some they didn't) with the exception of Switzerland. While the French had the largest Army in Western Europe, they were a beaten people in 1940. The First World War really took it out of them. All that Elan stuff just got too many guys wiped out and in the end, they started to believe that defense was the only way to fight a war. At least to fight it without losing another generation.

    The Germans got the right lessons (at least a good number of them) out of World War One (some that they tested in Spain) while the French developed a bunker mentality.

    Considering what had happened to both Countries in WW1, it is hardly suprising. Germany had a score to settle, France was mentally unprepared to fight anybody.
     
  5. delcyros

    delcyros Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 2, 2005
    Messages:
    2,037
    Likes Received:
    27
    Trophy Points:
    48
    Location:
    Berlin (Kreuzberg)
    What France needed most were different politics and less importance given to the army.

    The allies had quite the theoretical ability with regards to quantity and quality to contest the Luftwaffe over France (which they indeed did) but the FAF preferred to be over careful and over passive...
     
  6. freebird

    freebird Active Member

    Joined:
    Nov 12, 2007
    Messages:
    2,658
    Likes Received:
    3
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Location:
    British Columbia
    The # 1 failure was no strategic reserve, Gen Gamelin put almost all of the defending units into the line. When the Germans broke through at the Ardennes, there was nothing to block the Panzers, the French Govt sacked Gamelin, they tried to pull some divisions out of the line (from the southern sector) to send them north to plug the gap. By then it was too late.

    You cannot defend against a mobile army without a (mobile) reserve force! And it's not like they didn't know about "Blitzkrieg", the same tactics were used in Poland.
     
  7. merlin

    merlin Member

    Joined:
    Dec 27, 2006
    Messages:
    465
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    16
    Occupation:
    Customer Service Manager
    Location:
    Cardiff
    They needed combat engineers, if there were such a thing then! They would've felled trees in the trackways of the Ardenne, laid mines. Generally made the 'going' a lot more difficult for the offensive there.
    Unfortunately the quality of the French troops at Sedan was poor.
    Perhaps the 'French' lost the concept of who or what they were fighting for - too easy for the idea to be bound to politics e.g. right or left, rather than the Nation itself - as in Britain.
     
  8. The Basket

    The Basket Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2007
    Messages:
    1,318
    Likes Received:
    26
    Trophy Points:
    48
    The French could have wiped the floor with the Germans in 1936 over the march into the Rhineland.

    But didn't.

    Would have solved a lot of problems and got rid of Hitler.

    If they couldn't fight the Germans when they could have won easily then they were going to be in trouble when they had a proper fight on their hands.
     
  9. Thorlifter

    Thorlifter Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jun 10, 2004
    Messages:
    7,905
    Likes Received:
    189
    Trophy Points:
    63
    Occupation:
    IT Nerd
    Location:
    Dallas, Tx Jubail, Saudi Arabia
    :lol: :lol:

    Just a thought.......France had 'old' soldiers strategizing against a modern army using advanced tactics. The U.S. also had old soldiers saying, for example, how the airplane couldn't have an effect towards shipping, but the difference was the U.S. happened to have had just enough young minds at a high enough level to counter some of the old guard mentality. France didn't have that luxury.
     
  10. Hunter368

    Hunter368 Active Member

    Joined:
    Nov 5, 2005
    Messages:
    2,240
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    36
    Occupation:
    Manager
    Location:
    Winnipeg

    Yup I totally agree with that comment freebird. Anyone who has fought in any real or mock battle knows you are not going to win if you are not mobile.

    Putting all your forces on the front line gets them flanked, surrounded or enveloped.

    Germany was using modern warfare tactics and France was using WW1 tactics. France's army "on paper" matched up very well vs Germany's......but wars are not won and loss in a school room or office.
     
  11. renrich

    renrich Active Member

    Joined:
    Jan 19, 2007
    Messages:
    4,542
    Likes Received:
    5
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Occupation:
    real estate
    Location:
    Montrose, Colorado
    I think Thorlifter is on the right track The fact is that France had poor leadership, both political and military. They had a lot of men under arms, some of their equipment was as good or better than Germany's and they had the Royal Navy watching their back at sea. With good leadership they should have been able to fight the Nazis to at least a draw. It would be somewhat akin to Frank Leahy taking his Notre Dame team of 1941, with the tactics, training and size of the coaching staff of those days up against the Ohio State team of today. No contest.
     
  12. freebird

    freebird Active Member

    Joined:
    Nov 12, 2007
    Messages:
    2,658
    Likes Received:
    3
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Location:
    British Columbia
    The US had the luxury of huge production to make up for their screw-ups! The French deployment was faulty, and they were defending their home country, not a good time for mistakes.

    The British were unprepared at Singapore and it cost them an army a loss of prestige, but didn't threaten the Nation.

    The US was lucky that the 1942 "Sledgehammer" never took place, it would have been a monumental disaster, and King's stubborn 1942 policies only cost a few million tons of shipping a few thousand lives. By 1943 the US could build a million tons/month.
     
  13. Njaco

    Njaco The Pop-Tart Whisperer
    Staff Member Moderator

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2007
    Messages:
    23,053
    Likes Received:
    993
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Occupation:
    Animal Control Officer
    Location:
    Southern New Jersey
    I believe there were a couple of mindsets that contributed to the defeat. One was a superior attitude left over from the Great War and relied upon the stalemates and trenches of that war for this new one. I get my impression that the movie "Paths of Glory" potrayed that attitude pretty correctly. Second, a fear (maybe not right word) that Germany was superior and they couldn't stop - defeatist attitude.
     
  14. Arsenal VG-33

    Arsenal VG-33 Member

    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2007
    Messages:
    455
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    16
    Location:
    Indiana
    Only a few thousand books from varying opinions/perspectives have been written on this subject. All more or less state the same things, some authors trying to pinpoint what they feel was the crucial fault in French pre-war planning, while others blame a myriad of different problems. The truth is it's all over with some problems having more or less importance, relative to other problems.

    Pre-war France was wracked with political and civil strife, especially into the Depression era of the 1930s, with extremist politcal forces vying for power, at times violently so. In general terms, one could find the far Left was pitted against far Right, socialists vs. communists, upper class industrialists vs. powerful labor unions, trendy artists mixing it up with trendy Trotskyists against the religious Capitalists, and throw in a few anarchists just for added fun. Governments came and went with dizzying speed that made even the Italians jealous. All this and the fact that by some miracle the country didn't fall into civil war, it is quite amazing.

    By the time war was declared, there were indeed many who thought this would get the people together and forget about old political and social issues/rivalries. To some extent this was true, in other ways it didn't happen. The Non-Aggression pact between Germany and Russia pretty much gave the green light to the communist factions to continue their shenanigans, much of it in the factories and defense works. There were several well recorded examples of sabotage. The defense industries also share in the blame, as a streamlined mass-production plan was never invisioned until it was too late. Most planes were still being assembled one rivet at a time, and on one plane at a time. Great for quality purposes, bad for quick production. Also, there were plenty of lobbyists pressuring the government for fulfilling contract payments on old and obsolecent designs while more modern designs sat on the back burner.

    The new draftee in the army isn't going to fight so hard for a system which he may feel is so screwed up and unjust to his liking.

    Militarily, as some already pointed out there were certainly too many old minds clouding the halls of St. Cyr for any younger and more imaginative students to get through. A very few, such as then Col. de Gaulle had different ideas and even wrote books detailing his thoughts. "The Edge of the Sword" (1931), and "Towards a Professional Army" (1933-34) are both decent reads, explaining the need to adopt more mobile forces of tanks and infantry, and the development of a core of professional soldiers not reliant on draftees. Most of the military heirarchy viewed these books as a threat to their long established belief of strong fortifications. Afterall, they couldn't have someone telling everyone else that the Maginot Line was a bad idea, after having dumped all that money into it. The political establishment viewed anything resembling an army of professional soldiers as a threat as well, professional armies historically being the tool for coup d'etats by the power hungry .

    The idea of the Maginot line itself, while always ridiculed by those who don't understand the mindset behind it, is not all that silly. Interlocking forts with a demi-brigade worth of interval troops in between (sometimes more), with hundreds of artillery pieces and machine guns was a very strong deterrent indeed. The biggest flaw in the idea was not so much it's design, but the fact that it relied heavily on completion of it's northern sector in Belgium. This would connect it with Eben-Emael. Belgian neutrality, and thus the incomplete fortified line meant the entire northern part of France, from the Ardennes to the Channel was exposed. A secondary flaw, revealed immediately afterwards, was there there was no "plan B" in the event something like this would happen.

    As for military operations, I'm more convinced that poor communcations was perhaps an overriding cause for the defeat. Units not recieving their orders until it was too late, if they recieved them at all. Many times they recieved orders to move to areas already under enemy control. The over reliance of messenger courriers on motorcycles, many of which were caught in accidents and traffic jams was another symptom of this communication problem. Commanders who placed themselves far from the action led to indecision and since most French troops looked back on their training to follow orders and not innitiative meant many of them would be sitting around waiting for a senior officer, ANY senior officer to tell them something.

    On par with the lack of communication, and related to it, was the nearly complete lack of coordination between the army and the airforce, ensuring that mission support would be sporadic at most. Between the Allies, the lack of a supreme commander to handle all forces didn't help much at all, and this made joint operations anywhere from very difficult to non-existent. During the darkest hour, General Bilotte was chosen and approved by the Brits and French, but he was killed in an auto accident very shortly afterwards, which was probably the best thing that could have happened to the poor man, as bad as that may be.

    The troops themselves ranged from excellent and motivated to poorly trained and indifferent. Mobilization was very quick and very good. Infact it was so good that men had to be sent back home as the defense industries were affected by all of their workers being called up for duty. The difference in "Class A" troops and "Class B" troops was already known and there seems to have been little effort to rectify the situation. There was a good deal of distrust among some troops towards their officers in these "B" units. These units were also known to have their fair share of social and political misfits. Those "Class B" troops would unfortunately be in the crucial areas around Sedan where the Germans would breakthrough. It wasn't by some fluke the Germans hit here, they knew this was a weak point for this reason, and also that the best and the worst of the French armies was hinged at this particular location.

    A variety of other problems could be listed, but the above are what I believe to have been the worst cases. As I've posted before, and excellent and very fair and objective account on pre-war France - political, social, and military considerations - is Julian Jackson's "The Fall of France". I think one of the reason why this has recieved so much coverage among historians, is that this represented a perfect storm of things that you hope do not happen, but they do, and you have no way of knowing it until it's too late. It's a situation that could have happened (and could still happen) to any country, under the right circumstances.
     
  15. SoD Stitch

    SoD Stitch Banned

    Joined:
    Jun 19, 2007
    Messages:
    981
    Likes Received:
    2
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Occupation:
    Heavy Equipment Rental
    Location:
    Pine Mountain Lake, California
    Totally agree; the French hardware was (**shudder**) at least as good as the Germans, if not better, in 1940 (that was, of course, to change drastically later). The Char B1 bis and SOMUA S35 were actually better tanks than the PzKpfw. I II (more heavily armed and armored); in fact, the S35 was taken into German service (in limited numbers) upon the capitulation of France.

    I would say the French failed strategically, not tactically; they had their forces in the wrong place at the wrong time. However, in 1-v-1 engagements (however few far between), the French fared fairly well.
     
  16. Arsenal VG-33

    Arsenal VG-33 Member

    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2007
    Messages:
    455
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    16
    Location:
    Indiana

    In the northen most sector of the completed Maginot Line is a town called Stonne, which changed hands several times under very heavy fighting. By most accounts I've read, of all the German casualties suffered during their Blitz of 1940, they suffered about 10% of them in Stonne alone. Consider this, taken from wiki:

    "In direct meetings with German tanks the Char B1 usually had the better of it, sometimes spectacularly so as when the Eure on 16 May frontally attacked and destroyed thirteen German tanks lying in ambush in Stonne, all of them Panzerkampfwagen III and Panzerkampfwagen IV's, in the course of a few minutes. The tank safely returned despite being hit 140 times."

    What was not written is that the tank driver, when told by his commander he was out of ammunition, decided to roll over and crush the enemy with the tank itself. I doubt the Germans fighting there recall this moment merely as taking "a walk right around the Maginot Line".
     
  17. Arsenal VG-33

    Arsenal VG-33 Member

    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2007
    Messages:
    455
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    16
    Location:
    Indiana

    One of the biggest misconceptions in history. Of all the powers that wanted to do something about it, it was France. However, back in the good old days, there was something about diplomatic protocals that had to be followed, and with certain justification. When the German army reoccupied the Rhineland, France immediately looked to her Allies, the US and UK for backing, if not militarily at least diplomatically. The was no question that the French were prepared to do this unilaterally in a pre-emptive war (something which has been discussed in the not-so-far past). Both the US and the UK said NO, and further more, if France were to start a conflict which would (and could have still) expanded into a wider war, France would be to blame. When the question for military action failed, the French then asked that economic sanctions be placed. Again, the same answer from the US and UK, with one British parliamentarian even saying that there was no reason whatsoever for the Germans to be punished for taking back what was essentially theirs to begin with.

    This was clearly a "damed if you do, damned if you don't" situation. I don't see how all the blame can be laid on France for not doing anything about it. I can only imagine what people would be saying now about the French had they been the ones who instigated the 2nd World War. They could have ejected the German army from the Rhineland with force, but then that was a huge risk. It's easy now to say that nothing would have happened, given that Hitler gave the order to bug-out if the French attacked. There was simply no way the French could have known that. If they did, well that could be reserved for another "What if..." posting.
     
  18. Arsenal VG-33

    Arsenal VG-33 Member

    Joined:
    Nov 9, 2007
    Messages:
    455
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    16
    Location:
    Indiana
    The troops that were pulled out of the line to plug the gaps were not fortress troops, but the interval troops, and where the interval troops were removed, those were the points along the Maginot Line the Germans managed to pierce.

    Um...I seriously doubt there were French observers on the ground in Poland casually taking notes on "Blitzkrieg". They may have heard about it, but that still doesn't give one any clear idea of how it is implemented. No one in France, Belgium, Holland, Denmark and in the UK knew what "Blitzkrieg" really was until it hit them.
     
  19. The Basket

    The Basket Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2007
    Messages:
    1,318
    Likes Received:
    26
    Trophy Points:
    48
    I don't buy it Arsenal. To blame the US and the UK for the Rhineland is just bogus.

    The German military in 1936 was useless and the French could have cleaned them out without help from anyone. Hitler, Blomberg and Jodl all say even a modest French force would have done them in.

    Even if a shooting war had started it wouldn't have lasted.

    The problem here is that both France and the UK fought the Germans on the 10th May 1940...the worst possible moment.

    If the intel services didn't know about BLITZKREIG then why not...sounds very poor to me. Both the British and French had fought the Germans in Norway and many of the leading Generals such as Guderian and Rommel had written books expressly about lightning war. What about Poles who escaped to the allied countries...

    I'm not anti French...but the French do tend to blame others for their own mistakes. The UK has its own embarrassments with the Nazis. But we had ourselves to blame for that.
     
  20. Konigstiger205

    Joined:
    Mar 20, 2007
    Messages:
    915
    Likes Received:
    1
    Trophy Points:
    18
    Occupation:
    student
    Location:
    Bucharest
    The French didn't had the leadership nor the will to fight...they where messy and very disorganized...
     
Loading...

Share This Page