Thursday, May 17, 2007

The Fall of France - post I

I have a work commitment this evening so as a result this is being posted early and does not include too much from the first chapter because the aim would have been to have finished that on the way home this evening.

One of the main themes of Iron in the Soul is the collapse of the French army against the Germans with both of the main characters Mathieu and Brunet both experiencing the bitter taste of humiliating defeat. But you have to wonder just how the French army allowed their enemy to capture Paris in under a week. This book by Julian Jackson should explain why that happened.

This book is split into two parts with the first explaining and narrating the defeat of France in May 1940 and then the second half looking at the consequences.

It starts by sketching out the condition of the French country militarily before they were attacked trying to start to provide an explanation for why the Nazi forces were able to defeat them in just six days.

Bullet points from pages 1 – 42

* In the start the British expressed feelings of slight concern about the French army but expected the army that had fought so valiantly at places like Verdun to be able to hold on for quite a while against German opposition

* But the French lacked artillery, planes and tanks with the German’s easily over taking them in production before the war started on those crucial items – but even so the government felt comfortable enough to declare war

* The plans of defence centered on the Maginot Line holding the border with Germany and as a result the focus moved to Belgium but that ran into trouble when the country declared neutrality

* As a result there were various plans put forward to defend the Belgium border but because it was neutral they relied on a call for help rather than an assumed ability to set up defences in readiness

* The consequences of that relationship became clear when the Germans attacked because it took two hours to wake the French prime minister with the Belgiums call for help after the Germans invaded on 10 May

* Despite all the warnings the Germans manage to swarm through Belgium and overcome the totally inadequate defences that when put to the test cannot stop tanks and even when the Allies could have stopped the main attack their intelligence was poor causing bombers to be sent to the wrong place and the wrong types of troops deployed

More sobering history tomorrow...

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