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 (1939-1945) WWII Battles    
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Phil andrade
London, UK
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major
Moderator
Posts: 2596

Re: Chronology of the 1940 campaign
Posted on: 9/1/2017 2:59:01 AM

Quote:
 I'm reading "The Fall of France" by Philip Warner. He mentions the BEF was experiencing serious shortages of ammunition early into the fighting, and the impression of British commanders that the Germans seemed to have "endless" supplies of ammunition. Reading between the lines, it sounds like those responsible for stockpiling enough ammunition were parsimonious while the high command expected the German enemy to think and act like them.

 Warner's book, at least in the title of the edition I have, is an example of the historiography I mentioned above. The book is hardly about the "fall of France" at all. It is about the campaign through the Dunkirk evacuation and the smaller subsequent evacuations, with about 10 to 20 pages devoted to the actual fall of France.

 Those interested in Warner may read his obit here. [Read More]

Cheers

BW
--BWilson


Bill,

How about Alistair Horne's book on the 1940 fighting ?

He died a few months back, and gave an excellent account of himself as a British historian who specialised in things French.

Editing here : An afterthought....I've emphasised several times on MHO how the Allied defeat in France and Flanders in 1940 saved several hundred thousand British lives : a sustained war on the Western Front was bound to have increased the length of names in the WW2 sections currently on our war memorials.

How guilty I am of the Anglocentric view here !

If several hundred thousand British lives were saved by the withdrawal from France, how many millions - or even tens of millions - of people on the European Continent might not have perished if the Third Reich had been pinned down in the West ?

Or would the atrocious nature of that regime still have enjoyed free reign after the conquest of Poland ?

Would Barbarossa have been abandoned, or deferred ?

And, given the German embroilment in the West, how much horror would the Stalinist Soviet Union have unleashed ?

These are immense speculations, and forgive me for indulging in the counterfactual.



Regards , Phil
---------------
"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!"

"That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress."

Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

BWilson

top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major


Posts: 3514

Re: Chronology of the 1940 campaign
Posted on: 9/1/2017 4:54:11 AM
Phil,

 I got the name of Warner's book wrong; it is "The Battle of France, 1940" ... but my comment still stands.

 I have not read Horne's "To Lose a Battle". Update -- "Sixty Days that shook the West" (published 1963) appears to be a day-by-day account. I'll see what level of military detail it provides.

 On edit: "Sixty Days" looks very good; every day appears to include a description of military and political events. This could well be what I've been looking for.

Cheers

BW
---------------
With occasional, fatigued glances at life's rear-view mirror from the other side of time.

BWilson

top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major


Posts: 3514

Re: Chronology of the 1940 campaign
Posted on: 9/1/2017 5:01:22 AM
Brian,

 Thanks for the reminder. 78 years ago today (now 1 September in Poland). Somewhere on my mother-in-law's property, Polish AAA set up to fire at German aerial raiders. One of their neighbors (now deceased) was mocked after the war for stating he had "fought the Russians". Postwar, communist propaganda buried the accounts of Poles fighting the Russian part of the invasion. It was not until the end of the Cold War that my wife's family realized the poor man had very correctly stated what his war experience in 1939 had been!

Cheers

BW
---------------
With occasional, fatigued glances at life's rear-view mirror from the other side of time.

Jim Cameron
North Bellmore, NY, USA
top 15
E-8 Master Sergeant


Posts: 687

Re: Chronology of the 1940 campaign
Posted on: 9/1/2017 10:07:33 AM
It is interesting, and I suppose, rather typical, that from the Anglophone perspective at least the 1940 campaign in France can be summed up in a single word. Dunkirk. But then, both British and Americans can study WW1 on the Western Front, and it can be like the French were hardly there at all, save as hosts.

To Phil's speculation, I doubt that even had the BEF not evacuated, Germany could have been pinned down in the West. Neither Britain, with all its Imperial commitments, nor France, had the wherewithall to fix Germany in an extended campaign. They could really only do about what they did, put up a good fight. But with or without the BEF, I still see the outcome as a foregone conclusion, differing only in the specifics. Pinning the Germans down in the West wasn't going to happen until the Americans showed up, and that was still years away.
---------------
Jim Cameron

Every time I go to Gettysburg, I learn two things. Something new, and, how much I still don't know.

scoucer
Berlin, Germany
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major
Posts: 1957

Re: Chronology of the 1940 campaign
Posted on: 9/1/2017 11:43:39 AM

Quote:
Scoucer, would you be willing to cover to some extent the German side of things? Do we have anyone who might be interested once the US enters the war, or once the Japanese destroy the British Empire in the East? Cheers Brian G--brian grafton


Brian,

What I have is not so much a chronology but " Das OKW gibt bekannt". That is the weekly report of the OKW to the press. Id be happy to translate them on a weekly basis.

Trevor
---------------
`Hey don´t the wars come easy and don´t the peace come hard`- Buffy Sainte-Marie

Some swim with the stream. Some swim against the stream. Me - I´m stuck somewhere in the woods and can´t even find the stupid stream.

BWilson

top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major


Posts: 3514

Re: Chronology of the 1940 campaign
Posted on: 9/1/2017 12:08:29 PM

Quote:

Quote:
Scoucer, would you be willing to cover to some extent the German side of things? Do we have anyone who might be interested once the US enters the war, or once the Japanese destroy the British Empire in the East? Cheers Brian G--brian grafton


Brian,

What I have is not so much a chronology but " Das OKW gibt bekannt". That is the weekly report of the OKW to the press. Id be happy to translate them on a weekly basis.

Trevor

--scoucer


Trevor,

 I also have the "war diary" of OKW and can provide entries as needed. Good to hear you're up to this!

Cheers

BW
---------------
With occasional, fatigued glances at life's rear-view mirror from the other side of time.

John R. Price
Wilkes-Barre, PA, USA
top 15
E-8 Master Sergeant
Posts: 553

Re: Chronology of the 1940 campaign
Posted on: 9/1/2017 1:24:57 PM
Phil,

Would Barbarossa have been abandoned, or deferred ?

I think the better question would be, Would Barbarossa have been reversed with Russia attacking Germany and how long before it would happen? Remember that Russia got part of Poland, Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania as part of the Non Aggression pact, launched the Winter War against Finland and were demanding more territory in Romania and Hungary, bringing Polesti within artillery range of Russian guns before Barbarossa. Hitler wasn't the only madman leading a country that would enslave and murder millions in the 1930's & 40's threatening the peace of Europe.
---------------
A battle long forgotten by our country in a war never understood by our country.
"to satisfy our endless needs and justify our bloody deeds, in the name of destiny and in the name of God"


John R. Price
Wilkes-Barre, PA, USA
top 15
E-8 Master Sergeant
Posts: 553

Re: Chronology of the 1940 campaign
Posted on: 9/1/2017 1:33:41 PM
Brian,

Brian I would think the US and Japan would have to be included long before Dec 7,1941. Japan was the first country to go to war with the invasion of Manchuria and then China. Plus the US engaged in political and economic pressure and sanctions against both Japan and Germany and really military actions against Germany in the Atlantic long before entering the war.

Aren't we all taking a Eurocentric view saying WWII started with the German attack on Poland? Manchuria and China don't count?

---------------
A battle long forgotten by our country in a war never understood by our country.
"to satisfy our endless needs and justify our bloody deeds, in the name of destiny and in the name of God"


scoucer
Berlin, Germany
top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major
Posts: 1957

Re: Chronology of the 1940 campaign
Posted on: 9/1/2017 2:30:58 PM

Quote:
Brian,

Brian I would think the US and Japan would have to be included long before Dec 7,1941. Japan was the first country to go to war with the invasion of Manchuria and then China. Plus the US engaged in political and economic pressure and sanctions against both Japan and Germany and really military actions against Germany in the Atlantic long before entering the war.

Aren't we all taking a Eurocentric view saying WWII started with the German attack on Poland? Manchuria and China don't count?


--John R. Price


Of course you are right John but its a bit like asking when the ACW started when you include Bleeding Kansas and John Browns Raid.

In fact, many young european historians are tending to refer to a " Second Thirty Years War" 1914 to 1945.

I think the project Brian is proposing is difficult enough.

Trevor
---------------
`Hey don´t the wars come easy and don´t the peace come hard`- Buffy Sainte-Marie

Some swim with the stream. Some swim against the stream. Me - I´m stuck somewhere in the woods and can´t even find the stupid stream.

brian grafton
Victoria, BC, Canada
top 10
E-9 Sergeant Major
Moderator


Posts: 1447

Re: Chronology of the 1940 campaign
Posted on: 9/1/2017 6:44:03 PM
John R., you're dead right. Trevor captures the difficulty with determining a "start" date or a list of belligerents with his Thirty Years War notation.

It is true that belligerents of the European War (1939 - 1945) tend to mock US views that the war began on Dec 8, 1941, while at the same time ignoring the raging battles and atrocities occurring in various parts of Asia. For right or wrong, I tend to separate the European War from other conflicts, seeing the Asian conflicts as a "forgotten" war until Japanese expansionism began affecting European colonies and financial interests. US interests in Asia were strong, and not quite so obviously colonial, but you're obviously correct in suggesting that the economic pressures placed on Japan by the US appear to have been designed to force her either to back down or show the flag. Do you think it as interesting as I do that in 1939 Australia, New Zealand and even India were sending troops to support Britain against Hitler? That suggests to me – amongst a host of other things – that either the Japanese campaigns were not receiving attention or that they were considered as battles outside the political arena reflected by European nations and their satellites. I am perhaps speaking from ignorance in suggesting that the Roosevelt administration, while dealing with Japan's encroachments in Asia, was more concerned with the European menaces of Nazism and Fascism.

It's also true that I don't knew exactly when "World War II" or "Second World War" became commonly accepted terms for what really only became a global war after the entry of Japan and the US as official belligerants. We didn't have a "World War I" until we had a second world war, we had a "Great War".

Suggesting that today, Sept 1, marks the beginning of World War II is an error of self-indulgence and/or self-importance and/or regional arrogance. Nonetheless, it does mark the European beginning of armed conflict. There were only two nations involved that day, but within 48 hours the number had spread to four (or more, depending on how you determine the declarations by Australia, New Zealand, and other nations of the British Empire/Commonwealth). And it would take over 2000 days to run its course, leaving untold millions dead.

All I'm suggesting is that if MHO wants a project suited to the skills of various of its members, this might be a worthy one: a daily chronicle of WW2. Anybody could join in, and they could bring whatever they deemed interesting to the table. I think the key would be to keep the posts as succinct as possible while still being understandable.

Cheers
Brian G
---------------
"We have met the enemy, and he is us." Walt Kelly.

"The Best Things in Life Aren't Things" Bumper sticker.

brian grafton
Victoria, BC, Canada
top 10
E-9 Sergeant Major
Moderator


Posts: 1447

Re: Chronology of the 1940 campaign
Posted on: 9/1/2017 8:00:14 PM
I thought To Lose a Battle a good read, but IIRC I was a bit surprised with the negative state depicted. Maybe that was Horne's particular point-of-view, or maybe he was simply trying to capture the chaotic nature of the French military against a radically different tactical and strategic approaches. IIRC, he gave the men of the armed forces distinct credit while noting the numerous ways in which their morale was undermined or betrayed by the politicians and military leaders.

Phil, some of your speculations are fascinating, just as some of Bill's comments based on Warner's book are fascinating. May I just throw out for speculation a few points concerning the fall of France and the low countries?

First, I think it important to keep in mind that treaties such as those between Britain, France, Belgium, Holland and any other nations you want to throw in were great treaties of peace but utterly shitty treaties of war. Seems to me that a "mutual assistance treaty" that does not allow military overflight or foreign troop placement is less than perfect as a wartime measure.

Second, I think it slightly arrogant to think that the number and quality of British troops in the 1939/40 BEF was going to make a major difference in the face of the German assault. While not suggesting British and German troops didn't face off, the three weeks between German invasion and British extraction were largely spend by British troops reacting – often too late or ineffectively – to German initiatives.

Third, while the withdrawal of the BEF from Dunkirk is given as a reason for British shortages of equipment, shells and the like, there are at least indications that those shortages were endemic. A lack of modern 25-pounders in July could be explained by losses in France; the continued lack of 25-pounders in November and December suggests a bad supply chain. Same with things as basic as ammo. George Blackburn's Where the Hell are the Guns makes all kinds of inferences:
"That the Regiment will not see a 25-pounder for months is not something anyone foresees until the CO returns from a meeting at 2nd Division Headquarters with the bizarre story that 1st Field RCHA, the only regiment in England equipped with 25-pounders, is being used as a sort of 'travelling circus,' crossing and recrossing the country to give the impression there is unlimited artillery still available to repel invaders."

Or, on a slightly different topic, try this:
"... a major in the 1st Anglesey Battalion Royal Welsh Fusiliers ... responsible for the defence of miles of beaches, Carpenter can arm only six of his men with rifles and hand them five bullets each (allotted him from a supply of 75,000 1914-18 Canadian Ross rifles and sixty million bullets rushed to Britain by Canada in May 1940."

I think saving those 300,000 souls from Dunkirk was indeed miraculous, and I think it changed the course of the war. But I don't think the members of the BEF would have altered the frame of the war one iota. German arms overpowered their allies to the north, separated them from their allies to the south, and made it clear that either the BEF could fight (and surely lose) or evacuate.

I honestly can't see any means by which Britain and France could have rallied against the German onslaught, either in union or separately.

Poland was being raped and pillaged long before the Battle of France. Poland had been separated into germanic and slavic parts before the Battle of Franch. Jews and Slavs had no place in the Third Reich, and Poland didn't exist long before the Germans turned west.

Barbarossa was deferred, of course, at least in popular mythology. But nothing was going to stop the Nazi drive for Lebensraum in the East. I think it contraindicative to suggest that Britain could have held out against Germany in France (whether on its own or as part of an allied force) for a month let alone a year, or that this would make a difference.

If anything, I would suggest that the Battle of Britain was a greater down-draw on German forces than further resistance by BEF forces could ever have been. I'm not convinced that Stalin was interested in or prepared to attack Germany. Yes, there were nibblings around the perimeter of the German/Soviet wall that existed in 1939 and 1940. But don't turn that into an indication of how aggressive and vicious Stalin was. He was doing what Germany, Poland and a host of other nations had done during the period after the treaties which ended the "war to end wars". I see no need to make Stalin a bad guy here: he was a national leader covering his nation's ass.

Cheers
Brian G
---------------
"We have met the enemy, and he is us." Walt Kelly.

"The Best Things in Life Aren't Things" Bumper sticker.

BWilson

top 5
E-9 Cmd Sgt Major


Posts: 3514

Re: Chronology of the 1940 campaign
Posted on: 9/2/2017 2:10:28 AM
Brian,

 That was an excellent post about the 1940 campaign. I challenge, however, these statements.


Quote:
I see no need to make Stalin a bad guy here: he was a national leader covering his nation's ass.


 It was more involved than that in Poland. The NKVD and other communist authorities got up to very bad activities including mass deportation of people to Siberia. LOTS of those people died, often by freezing to death. Then there was the Katyn Forest massacre and other smaller massacres of anyone in Poland who could conceivably been an authority figure for the locals to rally around. None of that were simple nation-state power plays; they were actions designed to eliminate an entire people's collective memory of having been a nation.

 Likewise, the takeover of the Baltic Countries by the Soviets were events those countries are still outraged about. National histories were rewritten, children recruited as informers against their parents, families split apart by power games of the regime ... the works. All that was the product of a melange of sick aspects of Soviet communism and Russian notions of being "the big Slav daddy" who had the right to slap around less populous neighboring peoples.

Cheers

BW
---------------
With occasional, fatigued glances at life's rear-view mirror from the other side of time.

Jim Cameron
North Bellmore, NY, USA
top 15
E-8 Master Sergeant


Posts: 687

Re: Chronology of the 1940 campaign
Posted on: 9/2/2017 8:53:16 AM
There is a certain arbitrary element to setting an agreed start date for the water. Manchuria might seem a good candidate, but for whatever reason hasn't made the cut.

As to shortages of ammunition and material in France, Churchill's comment on what to expect from arms production in wartime would seem apt. "The first year, nothing. The second year, a trickle. The third year, all you want."
---------------
Jim Cameron

Every time I go to Gettysburg, I learn two things. Something new, and, how much I still don't know.

brian grafton
Victoria, BC, Canada
top 10
E-9 Sergeant Major
Moderator


Posts: 1447

Re: Chronology of the 1940 campaign
Posted on: 9/2/2017 8:18:34 PM

Quote:
It was more involved than that in Poland. The NKVD and other communist authorities got up to very bad activities including mass deportation of people to Siberia. LOTS of those people died, often by freezing to death. Then there was the Katyn Forest massacre and other smaller massacres of anyone in Poland who could conceivably been an authority figure for the locals to rally around. None of that were simple nation-state power plays; they were actions designed to eliminate an entire people's collective memory of having been a nation.

 Likewise, the takeover of the Baltic Countries by the Soviets were events those countries are still outraged about. National histories were rewritten, children recruited as informers against their parents, families split apart by power games of the regime ... the works. All that was the product of a melange of sick aspects of Soviet communism and Russian notions of being "the big Slav daddy" who had the right to slap around less populous neighboring peoples.

Bill, all I was concerned about at the time was to maintaining a focus on the immediate issues linked to the campaign in the West. I don't hold a brief for Stalin, and make no apologies for his conduct or the conduct of Soviet Russia.

I believe Eastern Europe between the wars was a mess designed to disintegrate, and that the creation and development of many countries was bound to fail given the times. Borders were relatively arbitrary; loyalties were often paid lip-service to or totally ignored. Germany's defeat in 1918, combined with the collapse of the Hapsburgs and the Romanovs, created opportunities that were squandered in treaty after treaty. With the political and miliritary instability of the 1930s, I don't see why increasing fragmentation should have taken place.

I wasn't condoning Soviet actions against Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania. I wasn't ignoring Soviet impact on Poland. Nor am I forgetting that in some ways Poland was Czechoslovakia, except the negotiators who left the Poles out of the decisions weren't Britain and France. Discussions about some of that may come up later in September. But IMHO Polish borders were somewhat arbitrary and in one instance completely insane after WW1 (and yes I'm thinking about the fiasco of Danzig and the Polish Corridor). The three baltic republics – too fragmented to form a larger nation and with long-standing commitments to other national or cultural groups – were gifted to Stalin by Germany as part of the non-aggression pact. As an additional inducement, parts of Poland were thrown in.

I understand that Poles, Lithuanians, Letts and Estonians would have been pissed off, and – given their histories post-WW@ – I can understand why resentment would run so long and run so deep. But I bet the Czechs were a bit pissed off with the loss of the Sudetenland, thanks to Britain and France and their ways of determining the meaning of treaties. And when Poland bit off a small piece of Czechoslovakia before that nation ceased to exist.

I don't want to minimize or naysay any of your comments re Soviet behaviour, whether through the dismemberment of 1939 or the further destruction during the post-war years.

Stalin was nasty and ruthless and single-minded. He was also self-centred (or even egocentric). He was opportunistic and unapologetic, and his forces could be brutal on command, as they were in Poland. So were German troops: the 1SS LAH had an orgy of bloodletting during the first few days of the Polish campaign.

I could go on, as most of us with an interest in the European War could do. But IMHO, Poland was going to be raped in every possible way: culturally, religiously, linguistically and nationalistically. The Germans would have been fully prepared to do it all themselves. Katyn was ugly and Soviet-actuated, but it could have just as easily been a German show. I find it repulsive that the German military attempted to focus the eyes of the world on Katyn, given the number of mass grave sites for which they were responsible.

Cheers
Brian G
---------------
"We have met the enemy, and he is us." Walt Kelly.

"The Best Things in Life Aren't Things" Bumper sticker.

John R. Price
Wilkes-Barre, PA, USA
top 15
E-8 Master Sergeant
Posts: 553

Re: Chronology of the 1940 campaign
Posted on: 9/2/2017 10:20:36 PM
Brian,

I brought up Stalin and his territorial ambitions to answer the legitimate question of if France in 1940 had ended in anything like a WWI stalemate would the German invasion of Russia be postponed or call off. Even with France defeated he is making territorial demands on Germany and her allies so I think its fair to speculate that if Germany is tied down in France that if those demands aren't granted he would attack to take them by force.

I also have to say I think your comparison doesn't work. Yes GB and France should have honored their treaty with the Czechs but GB and France didn't invade and deliberately murder or send to slave labor camps in Siberia military officers, government officials and anybody who might oppose their occupation and domination and then lie about what they had done for 40 years. Plus if GB and France can't do anything to stop Hitler over Poland a year later what the hell are they going to do over the Czechs except start the war a year earlier when they are even less prepared? OK maybe I'm wrong there because maybe the German military would have done something to stop Hitler.
---------------
A battle long forgotten by our country in a war never understood by our country.
"to satisfy our endless needs and justify our bloody deeds, in the name of destiny and in the name of God"


 (1939-1945) WWII Battles    
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