What if allies would insist on fighting at Dunkirk for three months?

Discussion in 'WW2 General' started by donkeyking, Jan 22, 2011.

  1. donkeyking

    donkeyking Member

    Joined:
    Dec 6, 2005
    Messages:
    35
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    6
    From 26 May 1940–4 June 1940, allies evacuated 330,000 of 400,000 from Dunkirk. Whatever it is not a bad result from the current point view. But in evacuation, allies had to abandon huge heavy weapons and equipment. These troops couldn’t fight again in short time because of without these weapons. At last French government surrendered on 14 June 1940 after 10 days Dunkirk evacuation.

    My question is whether there is a better option. What if allies would insist on fighting at Dunkirk for three months?

    Could they insist for 3 month around Dunkirk like the battle of Anzio?

    If they insist for 3 months in Dunkirk, could France stand longer?

    Is there other better choices than evacuation of Dunkirk?

    Thanks

    Donkeyking
     
  2. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2009
    Messages:
    6,418
    Likes Received:
    64
    Trophy Points:
    48
    Location:
    Michigan, USA
    I don't think so. It's not a matter of numbers. On paper French 1st Army Group which included the BEF and Belgium field army were easily a match for their German opponents.

    The 1940 German Army had superior operational doctrine, leadership and training. The same crucial advantages Britain had over Argentina during 1982 and the USA had over Iraq during 1990. If French 1st Army Group tries to fight it out in Belgium they will probably get beaten, losing personnel in addition to equipment.
     
  3. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2009
    Messages:
    9,780
    Likes Received:
    802
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Occupation:
    retired Firefighter
    Location:
    Central Florida Highlands
    There is the logistics question. Even if (big if) the Allies can stand up to the Germans tactically, the 300,000 man army would have to be supplied.
    Depending on when or how big the area is when the stand is made, is there enough port capacity in the perimeter to allow this (roughly 100 tons of supplies per division per day).
    Can the RAF keep control of the air long enough (more than the time of the evacuation) to allow the supply ships to dock and unload without too many being sunk.
    Is there a rail, road network to distribute the supplies or enough motor transport.
    Food, fuel and ammunition all have to brought in and distributed.
    If it's turns into a WW I type "siege" artillery pieces can use hundreds of shells per day each.
     
  4. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2009
    Messages:
    6,418
    Likes Received:
    64
    Trophy Points:
    48
    Location:
    Michigan, USA
    The Port of Antwerp is huge and it's in an ideal location for supporting military operations in Belgium.
     
  5. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2009
    Messages:
    9,780
    Likes Received:
    802
    Trophy Points:
    113
    Occupation:
    retired Firefighter
    Location:
    Central Florida Highlands
    Was Antwerp inside the perimeter of the Dunkirk area when the decision had to be made?
    Or was Antwerp in German hands on May 15th after the Dutch surrendered?
     
  6. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2009
    Messages:
    6,418
    Likes Received:
    64
    Trophy Points:
    48
    Location:
    Michigan, USA
    On May 10, 1940 French 1st Army Group (including the BEF) intended to fight for control of Belgium. The Port of Antwerp was available for supply purposes.

    If French 1st Army Group cannot hold on the Dyle River they cannot hold Dunkirk either. There is no further decision to make except how to evacuate as many soldiers as possible.
     
  7. mikewint

    mikewint Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2010
    Messages:
    5,690
    Likes Received:
    432
    Trophy Points:
    83
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Retired and living on the dole
    Location:
    Lakeview, AR
    #7 mikewint, Jan 25, 2011
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2011
    Been meaning to put my $0.02 in the pot.
    The Germans made many mistakes but this was their first and a big one. As the German army attacked through Belgium into France the Panzers could not believe the speed of their advance nor the lack of resistance as they simply by passed strong points. The German generals kept waiting for the hammer to drop and as days passed felt that they were being sucked into a trap. Guderian's and Rommel's rapid advance had put their into a narrow corridor. A decisive French/Allied attack could have cut off these troops. Blitzkreig was not a German concept nor was it called for in any operational plan
    The allied surprise attack 22 May (Battle of Arras) initially successful was eventually stopped but the Germans, now convinced that hundreds of tanks were about to destroy their elite forces panicked. Von Kluge wanted to halt and von Rundstedt agreed. von Brauchitsch German commander in chief disagreed. the dispute went to Hitler who countermanded von Brauchitseh after Goering assured him that the Luftwaffe could and would block any evacuation.
    The resulting 3 day halt and the Luftwaffe's failure allowed the Dunkirk evacuation to succeed.
    While the loss of equipment was a blow to the allied forces it was not a serious as the loss of trained troops. The US resupplied the British and in a short time those trained troops were ready to fight again.
     
  8. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2009
    Messages:
    6,418
    Likes Received:
    64
    Trophy Points:
    48
    Location:
    Michigan, USA
    What about the rest of French 1st Army Group? The BEF was a smaller loss then the cream of the French Army. The German victory at Dunkirk ensured that France was doomed.
     
  9. pbfoot

    pbfoot Active Member

    Joined:
    Apr 14, 2005
    Messages:
    7,636
    Likes Received:
    4
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Location:
    niagara falls
    I disagree with one small point , I think the BEF although trained in basic military skills , were an army trained for the 1st war , the Germans were schooling them in combined arms.
     
  10. mikewint

    mikewint Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2010
    Messages:
    5,690
    Likes Received:
    432
    Trophy Points:
    83
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Retired and living on the dole
    Location:
    Lakeview, AR
    #10 mikewint, Jan 25, 2011
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2011
    The Germans had also expected a WWI war and had prepared for one. The French and BEF could have stopped the Germans cold many times. Sept 1939 the Siegfried line was lightly defended and had no tanks but Gamelin chose to advance only 5km into Germany before withdrawal (battle of the Saar) he chose to wait for allied forces to build. He chose a static defense and although warned by Georges he (Gamelin) viewed the Ardennes as impassable sending his 10 weakest less trained divisions to guard them.
    The German Army, contrary to what the blitzkrieg legend suggests, was not fully motorised. Just 10 percent of the Army was motorised in 1940 and could muster only 120,000 vehicles compared to the 300,000 of the French Army. The British also had an large contingent of motorised forces. Most of the German logistical tail consisted of horse-drawn vehicles.
    Only half of the German divisions available in 1940 were combat ready, often being more poorly equipped than their equivalents in the British and French Armies, or even as well as the German Army of 1914. In the spring of 1940, the German army was semi-modern. A small number of the best equipped and "elite divisions were offset by many second and third rate divisions".
    When Heinz Guderian and Rommel disobeyed his direct orders and continued his advance after the Meuse bridgeheads Gamelin withdrew to guard Paris leaving the Panzers an open path to the coast
    When Gamelin was sacked and replaced by Weygand more mismanagement followed. Weygand arrived on 17 May, stating his first priority as supreme commander was to get a good night sleep and to cancel Gamelins offensive on the German corridor. He followed that by 3 days of official visits before reinstating Gamelins original attack order.
    However the opportunity had been lost because by that time the German infantry had caught up with the Panzers and consolidated their gains.
    Finally Weygands Line (Hedgehog tactic) was too late with allied forces trapped in Belgium.
    By this point Weygands was looking for an armistice.
    With all the lost opportunities French Forces were doomed and only the German Halt order saved the BEF
     
  11. freebird

    freebird Active Member

    Joined:
    Nov 12, 2007
    Messages:
    2,658
    Likes Received:
    3
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Location:
    British Columbia
    #11 freebird, Jan 25, 2011
    Last edited: Jan 25, 2011
    And it can't be used.

    Antwerp is still in Allied hands but Antwerp is unusable in 1940 (as in 1944) unless all of the Scheldt is free of enemy artillery.

    [​IMG]

    On the map above, dashed line is the position as of 14 May, solid line is 16 May

    By about 14 May, the Germans have units that can fire on Antwerp docks, or ships entering

    Map below, positions from May 16 - 20

    [​IMG]
     
  12. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2009
    Messages:
    6,418
    Likes Received:
    64
    Trophy Points:
    48
    Location:
    Michigan, USA
    You cannot fight for long without a supply line. If we postulate a scenerio start date of 14 May 1940 then French 1st Army Group's highest priority should be to push the German Army out of artillery range of Antwerp.
     
  13. freebird

    freebird Active Member

    Joined:
    Nov 12, 2007
    Messages:
    2,658
    Likes Received:
    3
    Trophy Points:
    38
    Location:
    British Columbia
    #13 freebird, Jan 26, 2011
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2011
    At point in the war, there was nobody in the French command that knew what was going on or was capable of doing anything about it even if they did.
    The Antwerp sector is help by the Belgian army, which is in no position to hold back the Germans, let alone push them back.
    There was never any intent to use Antwerp as a supply port, it was too vulnerable.
    In fact, even if the BEF/French had held Antwerp the entire Scheldt, the Luftwaffe would have prevented any shipping

    The French leadership had a real problem with poor communications. On 14 May, it wasn't evident there was a crisis, as the 9th Army has fallen back, but is along the Meuse River. But by 16/17 May, the 9th has been shattered, and the Panzer Corps are racing West. At this point, the result is all but inevitable. The French 1st 2nd armies, engaged with the German armies and facing east, and being non-mechanized do not have the ability to wheel and attack the German spearhead. (additionally, they are behind the Sambre Ainse rivers respectively)
     
  14. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2009
    Messages:
    6,418
    Likes Received:
    64
    Trophy Points:
    48
    Location:
    Michigan, USA
    French 1st Army Group was commanded by Gaston Billotte. If General Billotte doesn't know what's going on then the battle is lost before the first shot is fired.
     
  15. mikewint

    mikewint Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2010
    Messages:
    5,690
    Likes Received:
    432
    Trophy Points:
    83
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Retired and living on the dole
    Location:
    Lakeview, AR
    #15 mikewint, Jan 26, 2011
    Last edited: Jan 26, 2011
    Then, Dave, your battle is lost:
    In 1939 Billotte was 64 and ready to retire. He was assigned the northern French sector adjacent to Belgium assuming that the Germans would repeat their WWI attack through Belgium. While the Germans did indeed attack this sector on 10 May it was a feint while the real attack was through the Ardennes. Billotte did not realize this at the time.
    12 May- Billotte was assigned to coordinate all operations of the French, Belgians, and British. He had little staff and no experience in this area and burst into tears when informed of his new duties. He failed to co-operated effectively with Lord Gort and with King Leopold.
    18 May- Billotte told Gort "I am shattered and can do nothing against these Panzers"
    20 May- the British government, alarmed at the situation, sent the Chief of the Imperial General Staff, General Edmund Ironside, to confer with Gort and Billotte. Ironside later wrote: "I found Billotte and Blanchard all in a state of complete depression. No plan, no thought of a plan. Ready to be slaughtered. Defeated at the head without casualties... I lost my temper and shook Billotte by the button of his tunic. The man is completely beaten." Ironside effectively took over the co-ordinating role from Billotte and organised an unsuccessful attack southwards towards Arras in the hope of checking the German advance.
    21 May- Billotte had a staff meeting with Weygand who found Billotte demoralized and depressed. Returning from this meeting Billotte's staff car was in an accident and Billotte died two days later. General Henry Pownall, Gort's chief of staff stated "With all due respect, he's no loss to us in this emergency"
     
  16. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2009
    Messages:
    6,418
    Likes Received:
    64
    Trophy Points:
    48
    Location:
    Michigan, USA
    Why was the BEF in Belgium on May 10th, 1940 if that battle was already lost? They should have relocated to someplace they could do some good.

    The Dutch fought a hard but hopeless battle. The Netherlands is excellent defensive terrain. Move the BEF to Holland and the Dutch have a chance to prevail. Operation Market-Garden in reverse. In this case you need to hold the Port of Rotterdam.
     
  17. mikewint

    mikewint Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2010
    Messages:
    5,690
    Likes Received:
    432
    Trophy Points:
    83
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Retired and living on the dole
    Location:
    Lakeview, AR
    #17 mikewint, Jan 26, 2011
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2011
    The French Seventh Army failed to block the German armored reinforcements from the 9th Panzer Division, which reached Rotterdam on 13 May. That same day in the east, following the Battle of the Grebbeberg in which a Dutch counter-offensive to contain a German breach had failed, the Dutch retreated from the Grebbe line to the New Water Line. The Dutch Army, still largely intact, surrendered in the evening of 14 May after the Bombing of Rotterdam by the Luftwaffe. Heinkel He 111 bombers of Kampfgeschwader 54 destroyed the centre of the city. The Dutch Army considered its strategic situation to have become hopeless and feared further destruction of the major Dutch cities. The capitulation document was signed on 15 May.
    As to the BEF, it was composed of only 13 Divisions 3 of which had not been formed prior to the campaign. The French had 117 Divisions, the Belgians 22 divisions and the Dutch 10 divisions. The BEF considered itself to be a minor player and as such, unfortunately, subjugated itself to French command. Enter the 67YO Gaimlin, 64YO Billotte, and eventually Weygand whose first priority as supreme commander was getting a good night sleep
    German Army Group B, led by von Bock, assaulted the BEF on 14 May. As Army Group B pushed the Allied forces back toward the French frontier, the German Army Group A, led by von Rundstedt, invaded France through the Ardennes.
    The offensive by Army Group A cut communications between French and British commands and after approaching Sedan the German group turned northwards. On 10 May 1940, The Netherlands and Luxembourg surrendered and by 19 May were overrun. The push by Army Group A toward the coast combined with the approach of Army Group B from the Northeast left the BEF surrounded on three sides by 21 May. The British forces attempted to stop the offensive and launched counter-attacks including at Arras on 21 May. The BEF was unable to repel the Germans and Gort ordered that the BEF should withdraw to Dunkirk to facilitate evacuation.
    As to the French, you forget the sorry state of French leadership both political and Military. Could Weygand have inspired French troops to resist another 3 months. And remember the BEF was only 13 divisions to begin with
     
  18. davebender

    davebender Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Jan 18, 2009
    Messages:
    6,418
    Likes Received:
    64
    Trophy Points:
    48
    Location:
    Michigan, USA
    French 7th Army was well equipped with armor and motorized infantry. If they couldn't contain a German secondary attack while operating on excellent defensive terrain then the situation was hopeless. How could the BEF expect to make a stand at Dunkirk or anywhere else?
     
  19. mikewint

    mikewint Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Feb 17, 2010
    Messages:
    5,690
    Likes Received:
    432
    Trophy Points:
    83
    Gender:
    Male
    Occupation:
    Retired and living on the dole
    Location:
    Lakeview, AR
    The German army that attacked France and the low countries consisted of:
    Army Group A – von Rundstedth 45.5 divisions 7 of them armored. This is the main group attacking through the Ardennes.
    Group B – von Bock 29.6 divisions 3 of them armored. This is the Group attacking through the low countries in order to lure the northern allied units into a pocket.
    Group C – von Leeb 18 divisions. The group was to prevent flanking attacks from the east.
    Thus the German army consisted of just 93 divisions while France alone had 117 divisions.
    The attacking German army was vastly outmanned and out gunned but they had three major decisive factors in their favor:
    RADIO communication. All panzers were equipped with radios. This allowed armor to respond quickly to changing battlefield conditions. Commanders could control entire formations for massed firepower. Additionally radio allowed army units to co-ordinate with air units. Fliegerleittrupps were attached to all panzer unit and had their own transport. The Luftwaffe kept one Ju88 squadron and one fighter squadron ready for immediate takeoff. When called the Luftwaffe could respond with air support within 15 to 20 minutes.
    MOBILITY - The German army was formed around highly mobile offensive units consisting of artillery, infantry, engineer, and tank formations. Panzer units were self-contained and could operate for 3 – 4 days without resupply. German tank crews consisted of 5 men with each having a specific duty which they could concentrate on. French tank commanders doubled as Loaders requiring them to split their attention between directing the tank and firing the main gun.
    AUFTRARSTAKTIK – German officers were expected to use their own initiative to achieve their commanders intensions and as such had direct control of all supporting arms making them highly adaptive to changing battlefield conditions. The BEF had a centralized command structure thus an officer had to call division to request artillery fire support
     
  20. donkeyking

    donkeyking Member

    Joined:
    Dec 6, 2005
    Messages:
    35
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    6
    #20 donkeyking, Jan 27, 2011
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2011
    Hi Short

    I know there would be a huge logistic problem if they want to fight in Dunkirk. But it is not only for Allies but also for German. And then there would be some advantages in allies.

    The first, allied navy can support their army. The British and France has a lot of battleships and cruisers, and they have a lot of huge guns which are much bigger and more effiective than WW I type "siege" artillery. The other important thing is these navy guns dosn't have logistic problem like guns on land.

    The second, German tanks were light in 1940 and not good to break through heavy defencing areas. And then BEF were very good at defencing.

    The third, every effort would be paid if they had stood for three months in Dunkirk.

    French wouldn't feel they were abandoned by British, they would continue to fight.

    The German wouldn't dare to attack Paris from north of France with full strength if 400,000 troops were still in Dunkirk.

    Italy,Hungry and Romania wouldn't dare to join Axis if France hadn't collapsed.
    So maybe the WWII would be end in 4 years as WWI, maybe shorter
     
Loading...

Share This Page