Category: Fall of France

Fall of the Low Countries and France

In October 1939, accepting the fact that the conquest of Poland, however impressive, would not prompt Great Britain and France to withdraw from the war, Adolf Hitler directed the High Command of the Armed Forces (Oberkommando der Wehrmacht or OKW) to prepare for an offensive in the west. Although the leading German commanders believed the […]

Defeat of the Netherlands

It took the Germans only five days to defeat the Dutch Army, a force of about 400,000 men under Lt. Gen. Henri Gerard Winkelman. Before daylight on May 10, parachutists landed near Rotterdam and The Hague. They captured bridges vital to Dutch defensive plans and airfields where reinforcements could be landed from transport planes soon […]

Onslaught in Belgium

Elsewhere in Bock’s Army Group B, the Sixth Army under Gen. (later Field Marshal) Walter von Reichenau attacked just before dawn on May 10 to jump the Meuse and the Albert Canal north of Liege and swing southwestward into the Gembloux gap. Taking out the guns of Fort Eben-Emael was essential to the army’s progress. […]

Drive to the Channel

The breakthrough in the south seriously jeopardized the main Allied forces in Belgium. The French Seventh Army on the extreme left had already lost some of its advance contingents in the Netherlands, and others retreated to the island of Walcheren between Antwerp and the sea (there to hold until May 17), while late on May […]

Retreat to Dunkerque

With the collapse of these measures, the forces in the pocket appeared doomed. Boulogne was about to fall, and Calais was under siege, leaving Dunkerque as_ the only port. German armor had already forced one crossing of the canal line, and a rapid thrust to cut the Allied troops from the sea seemed likely. Then, […]

France Surrender

While these dramatic events occurred in the north, the French south of the German penetration were attempting to build a new line generally along the Somme and Aisne rivers. Known as the Weygand Line, the new positions emphasized defense in depth in the hope of sealing off German penetrations and permitting prompt local counterattacks. With […]

Battle of Britain

Britain stood alone, protected only by the Royal Navy, the moat of the Channel, an army almost devoid of guns, 59 Royal Air Force (RAF) fighter squadrons, and grim determination. While the German armies were defeating France, Hitler directed preliminary planning for the invasion of Britain (Operation Sea Lion). It soon became apparent that the […]