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Wednesday, July 12, 2017
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Lindsay Westphal

The Capitulation of France in WW2

Question

Is it true that France had superior cannon/artillery to the Germans tanks at Blitzkrieg, but because France used horseman runners to convey messages , that the Germans overran the French artillery because they had not yet received orders to fire? I read once that a runner went back to French Command at blitzkrieg, and upon receiving orders to fire on the Germans, was too late and that the Germans had already overrun the artillery because never fired back as they had no orders to do so... Is this true?

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I'm not sure if it boils down to that but it might very well.  At the start of the war, France did indeed have a larger army and more equipment (tanks, artillery) but no one was prepared for the new tactics and the speed of the German movements.  As to your question specifically, hopefully one of our better informed members can help.  

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On 9/22/2018 at 7:43 PM, Jon M Brown said:

I'm not sure if it boils down to that but it might very well.  At the start of the war, France did indeed have a larger army and more equipment (tanks, artillery) but no one was prepared for the new tactics and the speed of the German movements.  As to your question specifically, hopefully one of our better informed members can help.  

Can't quite agree with "no one was prepared for the new tactics and the speed of the German movements"... At the end of WW1, the British having stockpiled large supplies of tanks got ready to put them to use in 1919. Not randomly, but after first having given considerable thought about how to go about it. A Small group of British offices produced a strategy called (rather unoriginally) "Plan 1919". The three officers were Fuller, Liddell-Hart, and Trevelyan.They called their plan to the assault on German lines using massed tanks "expanding Torrents"... Germany realised that it was already beaten and threw-in the towel  at the end of !918, so "Plan 1919" was never out into action. But it WAS talked about, and written about.It was the basis for "Blitzkrieg". A young French officer read what Liddell-Hart and Fuller had been writing, and was impressed; he penned his own volume titled "The Army of the Future". His name was Charles deGaulle - maybe you've heard of him?! DeGaulle's book was in turn read by a young German officer, named Guederian, and he also wrote a book basically repeating the same ideas, The book was called "Achtung, Panzer!" Hitler in turn was very impressed, and placed Guederian in charge of developing the armoured forces -and-strategies of the rapidly expanding Wehrmacht. So... by 1939 quite a LOT of people were familiar with idea originally promulgated by the British. Those people included quite a few French officers... but (alas) NOT their supreme command, whose response to the outbreak of war was to assume that - like WW1 - it would be a static war. The French command established an HQ in an impressive chateau... without the benefit of modern telephony, expecting to communicate with sub-commanders using despatch riders on motorcycles. (Rather reminiscent of Napoleonic times, or maybe the Crimean war, where "Gallopers" carried messages back and forth.) In 1940,The messengers proved totally incapable of transmitting information fast enough to be useful.The guys at the top of the French army (OLD men) were still fighting WW1. But a few (younger) officers reacted rather more appropriately. There was quite a successful counterattack against the invading Germans near Arras, Three names come up, associated with that fight) sadly, lacking sufficient resources to be effective other than short term. A British general named Montgomery, a French one named deGaulle, and a German named Rommel. So, not everyone was caught with their pants down.

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Posted (edited)
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DeGaulle's book was in turn read by a young German officer, named Guederian, and he also wrote a book basically repeating the same ideas, The book was called "Achtung, Panzer!" 

That's funny, because Guederian was actually developing tactical prowess on ranges at Kazan, USSR, together with a bunch of other future Wehrmacht leaders, following the infamous - essentially anti-Versalles - Rapallo Treaty of 1922 between Germany and Soviet Russia.

Edited by George Collins

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