Two Plus Two Publishing LLC Two Plus Two Publishing LLC
 

Go Back   Two Plus Two Poker Forums > >

Notices

History Discussion of History up to Circa 1990

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 03-28-2017, 08:13 PM   #1
Black Peter
veteran
 
Black Peter's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: The Pass
Posts: 2,785
What could the French really do after Poland?

I'm curious what you think about France's position after the successful German invasion of Poland. Some people argue that the French and the BEF should have immediately invaded western Germany. They argue that the French army was huge and could have made a big impact early on, if not even beaten the Germans. Others say the French would have been annihilated either way and that the Brits were unable to help much.

Thoughts?
Black Peter is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-19-2017, 10:02 PM   #2
golfnutt
Pooh-Bah
 
Join Date: Oct 2007
Posts: 3,722
Re: What could the French really do after Poland?

France needed Britain. Britain, like most countries in the world, tend to not want to do pre-emptive strikes. Much easier to sell war politically after being attacked.

It seems that way currently with North Korea. If North Korea attacks Seoul, everyone will second guess why we didn't do anything knowing that is openly one of their stated missions (may not be actually true.) Still, brutally tough decision to decide what and how to disable a country's ability to attack and it certainly might make the outcome much worse. The what-ifs analysis are always that way.

It seems that Germany could have continued their dominance if they didn't fight a two-front battle and used their the Jewish people to help their war effort. They easily could have developed a nuclear bomb if they didn't scare every scientist away.
golfnutt is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-21-2017, 03:08 AM   #3
Zeno
Le Misanthrope
 
Zeno's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2002
Location: Spitsbergen
Posts: 14,812
Re: What could the French really do after Poland?

Just a reminder that this is a history forum not a current events forum. There is a wall of separation between history and the poltards.

Anyway - There are some good posters here that have a sound grasp on many of the intricacies of WWII and their input would be interesting and valuable. As far as what if questions go, that is.
Zeno is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-21-2017, 06:18 AM   #4
Mason Malmuth
Top Dog
 
Mason Malmuth's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: @MasonMalmuth
Posts: 10,049
Re: What could the French really do after Poland?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Black Peter View Post
I'm curious what you think about France's position after the successful German invasion of Poland. Some people argue that the French and the BEF should have immediately invaded western Germany. They argue that the French army was huge and could have made a big impact early on, if not even beaten the Germans. Others say the French would have been annihilated either way and that the Brits were unable to help much.

Thoughts?
Hi Black Peter:

While the French Army may have been big, I think it's fair to say it was an army built for defense. Not only was there the Maginot line which their army was suppose to support, but defense is essentially what they did in the first world war and they had no reason to think it wouldn't work again. So in my opinion, they get annihilated either way.

Best wishes,
Mason
Mason Malmuth is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-21-2017, 06:25 AM   #5
Mason Malmuth
Top Dog
 
Mason Malmuth's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2002
Location: @MasonMalmuth
Posts: 10,049
Re: What could the French really do after Poland?

Quote:
Originally Posted by golfnutt View Post
France needed Britain. Britain, like most countries in the world, tend to not want to do pre-emptive strikes. Much easier to sell war politically after being attacked.

It seems that way currently with North Korea. If North Korea attacks Seoul, everyone will second guess why we didn't do anything knowing that is openly one of their stated missions (may not be actually true.) Still, brutally tough decision to decide what and how to disable a country's ability to attack and it certainly might make the outcome much worse. The what-ifs analysis are always that way.

It seems that Germany could have continued their dominance if they didn't fight a two-front battle and used their the Jewish people to help their war effort. They easily could have developed a nuclear bomb if they didn't scare every scientist away.
Hi golfnutt:

I subscribe to the theory that the Germans thought they would win the war quickly and thus there was no reason to develop nuclear weapons. And if Moscow falls in 1941 (before winter comes), this might have been the case.

Best wishes,
Mason
Mason Malmuth is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-22-2017, 11:33 AM   #6
golfnutt
Pooh-Bah
 
Join Date: Oct 2007
Posts: 3,722
Re: What could the French really do after Poland?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mason Malmuth View Post
Hi golfnutt:

I subscribe to the theory that the Germans thought they would win the war quickly and thus there was no reason to develop nuclear weapons. And if Moscow falls in 1941 (before winter comes), this might have been the case.

Best wishes,
Mason
Although they thought and wanted a quick war, their scientists were engaged in rocketry for weapons I imagine. Hard to say what would have happened though because so many of their scientists left. I don't think Einstein would have helped Germany either with the atomic bomb if he stayed since, like many scientists, he was against using science for weaponry.

Many of scientists in America who helped develop the bomb came out against it right after witnessing what they built.
golfnutt is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-23-2017, 03:05 PM   #7
Husker
Carpal \'Tunnel
 
Husker's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2007
Location: Holsten's Diner
Posts: 10,562
Re: What could the French really do after Poland?

Quote:
Originally Posted by golfnutt View Post
Although they thought and wanted a quick war, their scientists were engaged in rocketry for weapons I imagine. Hard to say what would have happened though because so many of their scientists left. I don't think Einstein would have helped Germany either with the atomic bomb if he stayed since, like many scientists, he was against using science for weaponry.

Many of scientists in America who helped develop the bomb came out against it right after witnessing what they built.
Einstein wrote to Roosevelt in 1939 about the possibility of creating atomic weapons.
Husker is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-25-2017, 08:23 AM   #8
DoTheMath
Pooh-Bah
 
DoTheMath's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Location: At my computer
Posts: 4,678
Re: What could the French really do after Poland?

The best time for a French military intervention would have been in direct response to the re-militarization of the Rhineland in 1936. The force disparity would have been so great the French wouldn't have even needed full mobilization. Having failed then, their next best chance was about two weeks after the start of the war. The national mobilization was well under way, and most of the German forces were engaged in Poland. Having failed once again, their options were quite limited.

Just sitting there, as they did, makes you a target. If you are going to declare war, you need to be prepared to actually fight. And having a system of military alliances is not of much value if the members of those alliances have neither the will nor materiel to conduct military operations.
DoTheMath is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-01-2017, 04:03 PM   #9
Zeno
Le Misanthrope
 
Zeno's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2002
Location: Spitsbergen
Posts: 14,812
Re: What could the French really do after Poland?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Husker View Post
Einstein wrote to Roosevelt in 1939 about the possibility of creating atomic weapons.

The information is presented well enough in Wiki to provide a link, see Below. Leó Szilárd wrote the letter and Einstein signed it. The book, The Making of the Atomic Bomb, by Richard Rhodes provides all the details. It is an excellent read and I highly recommend it.

Einstein–Szilárd letter_letter
Zeno is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-01-2017, 03:33 PM   #10
DoOrDoNot
adept
 
Join Date: Apr 2010
Posts: 1,149
Re: What could the French really do after Poland?

I always thought it was ironic that the French and British guaranteeing Poland vs. Germany ended up with the French British and Americans giving Poland to the USSR.

Anyway, the French army was the largest in the world in 1939-40, and they could have run amok in Western Germany, but there were many factors incl. war-fear (from losing millions in WWI) to defeatism to defensive mindedness (Maginot line) to internal political turmoil that prevented them from doing so.
DoOrDoNot is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-03-2017, 07:25 AM   #11
DoTheMath
Pooh-Bah
 
DoTheMath's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Location: At my computer
Posts: 4,678
Re: What could the French really do after Poland?

Quote:
Originally Posted by DoOrDoNot View Post
...

Anyway, the French army was the largest in the world in 1939-40,
The French may have had more men under arms than the Germans at some points during 1939-40, but on September 1, 1939, they had less troops mobilized than the Chinese, Japanese, Russians and Germans. Because they had to defend the Italian border, and possessions in Africa, they had less troops available then Germany on the front between those two countries.

The fighting power of a French infantry division was considerably less than that of a similarly-sized German infantry division.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DoOrDoNot View Post
... and they could have run amok in Western Germany, ...
Almost certainly not. They could probably have made a modest advance. The French army lacked equipment, training and doctrine suitable for "running amok".
DoTheMath is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-03-2017, 06:18 PM   #12
DoOrDoNot
adept
 
Join Date: Apr 2010
Posts: 1,149
Re: What could the French really do after Poland?

Quote:
Originally Posted by DoTheMath View Post
The French may have had more men under arms than the Germans at some points during 1939-40, but on September 1, 1939, they had less troops mobilized than the Chinese, Japanese, Russians and Germans. Because they had to defend the Italian border, and possessions in Africa, they had less troops available then Germany on the front between those two countries.
I mean this is simply not true, they had a large numerical superiority-more divisions mobilized on the border with Germany than Germany did. The French could bear down about 50 divisions compared with the 22 of the Germans. They also had massive superiority in tanks and aircraft at that time because Germany had committed the vast majority of its offensive forces to Poland.

The French actually successfully occupied a small part of Germany, but did not follow through with the second phase of their plan because German victory in Poland was swift (among other reasons).

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saar_Offensive

Quote:
Almost certainly not. They could probably have made a modest advance. The French army lacked equipment, training and doctrine suitable for "running amok".
I don't think they could have defeated Germany to be sure, but they could have given them some big problems had they actually went all out and invaded. Of course, they were afraid of another war, and didn't take the steps necessary (full mobilization) and were too defensive minded to do anything about it. They also didn't want to violate Belgian neutrality, and in fact were afraid of doing so because their Maginot Line extensions were not done at that point. It's ironic, because the fact that Germany was willing to violate it is what won them the war.
DoOrDoNot is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-04-2017, 03:07 AM   #13
DoTheMath
Pooh-Bah
 
DoTheMath's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Location: At my computer
Posts: 4,678
Re: What could the French really do after Poland?

Quote:
Originally Posted by DoOrDoNot View Post
Quote:
Originally Posted by DoTheMath View Post
The French may have had more men under arms than the Germans at some points during 1939-40, but on September 1, 1939, they had less troops mobilized than the Chinese, Japanese, Russians and Germans. Because they had to defend the Italian border, and possessions in Africa, they had less troops available then Germany on the front between those two countries.
I mean this is simply not true, ...
That would depend on what "this" is. My paragraph is clumsily worded due to a last minute edit I made. If you interpret what I said to mean that at all times the Germans actually had more men on the French frontier than the French did, that would be simply not true.

So let's break it down. On September 1, 1939, the Germans has more men mobilized. That's true. What's also true is a lot of them were nowhere near the French frontier. AFAIK, the German had approximately 91 divisions (78 infantry, 6 armoured, 4 light armoured and 3 mountain divisions mobilized on September 1. That included 25 infantry divisions in Army Group C, facing west, and 12 more in OKW reserve. About a dozen more were undergoing training or were still forming.

In contrast, on 1 September the French had 38 Divisions mobilized: 3 light cavalry divisions, 2 Light mechanized divisions, 25 infantry divisions and 8 colonial Infantry divisions. Many of these were also nowhere near the frontier. On September 2, France began the mobilization of 36 more divisions. This mobilization took several days, and it took more days to transfer the divisions from their assembly areas to the frontier. Even after that mobilization was complete, the Germans still had a total force advantage of about 95 to 74 divisions.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DoOrDoNot View Post
they had a large numerical superiority-more divisions mobilized on the border with Germany than Germany did.
When?

Quote:
Originally Posted by DoOrDoNot View Post
The French could bear down about 50 divisions compared with the 22 of the Germans.
IDK where you get the number 50 from. The Wikipedia article you link to seems to say that the plan called for 40, that only about 30 actually made it to the border and only 11 actually attacked Germany. By the time the French could complete the mobilizations started in early September, the Germans had already effectively defeated the Polish, which was why the Saar offensive was called off.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DoOrDoNot View Post
They also had massive superiority in tanks and aircraft at that time because Germany had committed the vast majority of its offensive forces to Poland.
Germany committed all its armoured forces to the Polish campaign. However, in the list of French formations above, you won't see any armoured divisions. The vast majority of French tanks were in small units assigned to support infantry divisions. Most of the French tanks were armed only with a machine gun. Over 500 of the numerical French tank superiority were the model FT-17, a relic from WWI. Of the gun-armed tanks, most had a small calibre low velocity gun unsuitable for serious anti-tank work or for infantry support. The greatest concentration of tanks was in the two light mechanized divisions. These contained, as about half their tanks strength, the only French tank worthy of being considered a Main Battle Tank., the Somua S35. Despite having impressive attributes on paper, this tank was inferior in fighting capability to the German MBT, the PzKwIII, One of these two divisions was committed to the Saar offensive. The Wikipedia article erroneously refers to it as an armoured division. In fact it was assigned to the cavalry. The article also mislabels the three light cavalry divisions as mechanized divisions, which is a better decriptor of the previous division.

The terrain of the Saar offensive was mostly unsuitable for armoured operations. The French had no concept of using armoured divisions to spearhead an attack, and no realistic armoured warfare doctrine. The French concept of tank employment hadn't really advanced from 1917, when the tank was a mobile pillbox supporting an infantry advance.

So despite having, on paper, a massive advantage in tank strength, in terms of combat capability, the French had no advantage except for doing what they actually did: capturing virtually undefended territory in front of the Siegfried line.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DoOrDoNot View Post
The French actually successfully occupied a small part of Germany, but did not follow through with the second phase of their plan because German victory in Poland was swift (among other reasons).

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saar_Offensive

I don't think they could have defeated Germany to be sure, but they could have given them some big problems had they actually went all out and invaded. Of course, they were afraid of another war, and didn't take the steps necessary (full mobilization) and were too defensive minded to do anything about it. They also didn't want to violate Belgian neutrality, and in fact were afraid of doing so because their Maginot Line extensions were not done at that point. It's ironic, because the fact that Germany was willing to violate it is what won them the war.
They couldn't go all out and invade. Many of their forces were not ready for deployment. They didn't have the force composition, organization, training, doctrine or experience to enable an all-out attack. They considered their own Maginot Line to be impregnable, and thought the German Siegfried line was similarly strong.

Nevertheless, it would be interesting to speculate about what the French could have done if they had organized and trained before the war for an offensive intended to break through the Siegfried line instead of focusing on defending against German attack. I think they had the materiele to be effective, just not the knowledge of how to go about it.
DoTheMath is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-04-2017, 06:12 AM   #14
DoOrDoNot
adept
 
Join Date: Apr 2010
Posts: 1,149
Re: What could the French really do after Poland?

Quote:
Originally Posted by DoTheMath View Post
That would depend on what "this" is. My paragraph is clumsily worded due to a last minute edit I made. If you interpret what I said to mean that at all times the Germans actually had more men on the French frontier than the French did, that would be simply not true.
That's what I meant.

Quote:
So let's break it down. On September 1, 1939, the Germans has more men mobilized. That's true. What's also true is a lot of them were nowhere near the French frontier. AFAIK, the German had approximately 91 divisions (78 infantry, 6 armoured, 4 light armoured and 3 mountain divisions mobilized on September 1. That included 25 infantry divisions in Army Group C, facing west, and 12 more in OKW reserve. About a dozen more were undergoing training or were still forming.

In contrast, on 1 September the French had 38 Divisions mobilized: 3 light cavalry divisions, 2 Light mechanized divisions, 25 infantry divisions and 8 colonial Infantry divisions. Many of these were also nowhere near the frontier. On September 2, France began the mobilization of 36 more divisions. This mobilization took several days, and it took more days to transfer the divisions from their assembly areas to the frontier. Even after that mobilization was complete, the Germans still had a total force advantage of about 95 to 74 divisions.
On the 7th of September France had 40 divisions available for the Saar offensive vs. 22 german divisions. In the middle of september they had 98 divisions vs. the germans 43 in that region, fielding a vast superiority in guns, with 2500 tanks vs. zero tanks, as well as their entire air force vs. sparse luftwaffe cover.

Quote:
IDK where you get the number 50 from. The Wikipedia article you link to seems to say that the plan called for 40, that only about 30 actually made it to the border and only 11 actually attacked Germany. By the time the French could complete the mobilizations started in early September, the Germans had already effectively defeated the Polish, which was why the Saar offensive was called off.
The Polish campaign didn't end until October 1939. While the Polish were effectively defeated in the first 2 weeks, Warsaw didn't fall until late September, tying up significant German forces. Not only that, it would take weeks to reorganize and move division west to meet a French invasion.

Quote:
Germany committed all its armoured forces to the Polish campaign. However, in the list of French formations above, you won't see any armoured divisions. The vast majority of French tanks were in small units assigned to support infantry divisions.
This is correct, I agree.

Quote:
Most of the French tanks were armed only with a machine gun. Over 500 of the numerical French tank superiority were the model FT-17, a relic from WWI. Of the gun-armed tanks, most had a small calibre low velocity gun unsuitable for serious anti-tank work or for infantry support. The greatest concentration of tanks was in the two light mechanized divisions. These contained, as about half their tanks strength, the only French tank worthy of being considered a Main Battle Tank., the Somua S35. Despite having impressive attributes on paper, this tank was inferior in fighting capability to the German MBT, the PzKwIII, One of these two divisions was committed to the Saar offensive. The Wikipedia article erroneously refers to it as an armoured division. In fact it was assigned to the cavalry. The article also mislabels the three light cavalry divisions as mechanized divisions, which is a better decriptor of the previous division.
The Somua S35 and Char B were superior to anything the Germans could field, with exception to the higher velocity versions such as the Pzkpfw IIIG which didn't even enter service until 1940. The Panzer IIIE with its 37mm AT gun, which the Germans had very few of in 1939 was inferior to the heavy armor and 47mm gun of the somua and Char B1. German soldiers and commanders all said this as well. The vast majority of German tanks at the time were exactly as you describe above, Pzkpfw I and II with large machine guns or very small AT capacity.

Quote:
The terrain of the Saar offensive was mostly unsuitable for armoured operations. The French had no concept of using armoured divisions to spearhead an attack, and no realistic armoured warfare doctrine. The French concept of tank employment hadn't really advanced from 1917, when the tank was a mobile pillbox supporting an infantry advance.
I agree with most of this. However if they weren't intending on a major armored offensive than the terrain was irrelevant.

Quote:
So despite having, on paper, a massive advantage in tank strength, in terms of combat capability, the French had no advantage except for doing what they actually did: capturing virtually undefended territory in front of the Siegfried line.
I disagree. I think the failure of the French and British to do anything vs. Germany after Germany invaded Poland had little to do with their combat capability. There were many other much more important reasons they didn't launch an invasion, and had they, I believe they would have made significant problems for the Germans.


Quote:
They couldn't go all out and invade. Many of their forces were not ready for deployment. They didn't have the force composition, organization, training, doctrine or experience to enable an all-out attack. They considered their own Maginot Line to be impregnable, and thought the German Siegfried line was similarly strong.

Nevertheless, it would be interesting to speculate about what the French could have done if they had organized and trained before the war for an offensive intended to break through the Siegfried line instead of focusing on defending against German attack. I think they had the materiele to be effective, just not the knowledge of how to go about it.
I disagree. It's easy to get caught up in how bad the French armed forces were because they were so easily trounced by the Germans in 1940, but that failure was a manifold one. The French had one of the most modern, well trained, as well as the largest armed forces in the world at the time. Combat capability, equipment and training was low on their list of problems. They weren't outgunned, they were outmaneuvered. I agree that the French were defensive minded and that is the major reason they didn't attack germany. But they mounted many strong counterattacks during the invasion of France, one of which almost ended the German offensive in complete disaster, and had they attacked Germany in 1939, they would have given the Germans some real problems.

Last edited by DoOrDoNot; 07-04-2017 at 06:31 AM.
DoOrDoNot is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-04-2017, 07:02 PM   #15
DoTheMath
Pooh-Bah
 
DoTheMath's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Location: At my computer
Posts: 4,678
Re: What could the French really do after Poland?

Quote:
Originally Posted by DoOrDoNot View Post
On the 7th of September France had 40 divisions available for the Saar offensive vs. 22 german divisions.
That's not what the Wikipedia article says. It says the French had a plan that called for 40 divisions, not that they actually had 40 divisions available. Can you name those 40 divisions and specify their locations or at least the larger formations to which they were assigned?

The German Order of Battle on September 1, had the following divisions assigned to Army Group C, which is what faced France:
In 5 Army, Eifel: 16, 26, 69, 86, 211, 227 Infantry
In 1 Army, Saarplatz: 6, 9, 15, 25, 33, 34, 36, 52, 71, 79, 214, 231, 246 Infantry
In 7 Army, Oberrhein: 5, 35, 78, 212, 215 Infantry, 14 Landwehr
In Army Group reserve*: 22, 87, 209, 216, 223, 225, 251, 253, 254 Infantry
In addition OKW Reserve had the following divisions assigned: 56, 57, 58, 75, 76, 252, 257, 258, 260, 262, 263, 267 Infantry

* I forgot to include the Army Group reserve in my previous post.

That's 46 divisions available to defend Germany from the French. Not all of them were in the area attacked by France. It is possible the article came up with a figure of 22 Divisions by adding the Army Group reserve to the divisions of 1 Army.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DoOrDoNot View Post
In the middle of september they had 98 divisions...
Really? I don't think they had that many divisions mobilized. Can you identify all 98 divisions, and their assigned higher formations? The best I can come up with as a list of French Divisions fully mobilized and in France (or Germany) by September 16th is this:
1st & 2nd Light Mechanized divisions (DLM)
1st, 2nd & 3rd Light Cavalry divisions (DLC)
1-16, 18-36, 41-43, 45, 47, 51-54, 56-58, 60-63, 70-71, Infantry divisions (DI & DIM)
64-66 Mountain Infantry divisions (DI)
1st Moroccan (DM), 1-5 North African divisions (DINA), 1-7 Colonial Infantry Division (DIC)

That's a total of 74 divisions. Which ones am I missing? I suspect that the number 98 to which you refer was the total number of French divisions in existence at any time before the surrender in 1940, not the number of divisions operational in mid-September..

It should be noted that not all of these 74 were available to serve at the front in mid-September, and that a few were understrength or missing equipment.

Regarding the gaps in the numbers above:
I can find no record of 17 DI being formed before 21 May 1940.
I can find no record of 38-39, 46, 48-50, 59, or 69 DI ever being formed.
40 DI was formed 31 May 1940.
44 DI was formed 1 March 1940
55 DI was formed 3 October 1939
67 DI was in the process of mobilizing at Toulouse on 16 September 1939.
68 DI was formed 15 January 1940
71 was the largest number given to a regular infantry division.
Five fortress infantry divisions were formed in 1940, numbered 101-105 DIF.
3rd, 4th and 7th DLM were formed in 1940, the latter two from remnants of 1st & 4th DLC. I can find no record of there ever having been a 5th, 6th or 8th DLM or higher.
4th - 6th DLC were formed in 1940. There was no higher-numbered DLC.
The armoured divisions, 1-4 DCR, were all formed in 1940.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DoOrDoNot View Post
... vs. the germans 43 in that region, fielding a vast superiority in guns, with 2500 tanks vs. zero tanks, as well as their entire air force vs. sparse luftwaffe cover.
IDK where you are getting your figures. I make it 46 German divisions in Army Group C and OKW reserve. I suppose some of the OKW reserve may have been committed to Poland. Most of the French tanks were in the Army Group which was covering the Belgian frontier. The Wikipedia article on the Saar Campaign lists only 400 French tanks as available for the campaign. AFAIK, none were actually used.The article omits the divisional and regimental artillery from the count of German artillery. Typically there would be 12 heavy and 36 medium artillery pieces in the division's artillery regiment, and 6 heavy and 18 light infantry guns spread between the infantry regiments. That's 72 guns per division.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DoOrDoNot View Post
T... it would take weeks to reorganize and move division west to meet a French invasion.
That may have been the standard for the French, but the Germans could often do it in about 5 days.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DoOrDoNot View Post
The Somua S35 and Char B were superior to anything the Germans could field, with exception to the higher velocity versions such as the Pzkpfw IIIG which didn't even enter service until 1940. The Panzer IIIE with its 37mm AT gun, which the Germans had very few of in 1939 was inferior to the heavy armor and 47mm gun of the somua and Char B1. German soldiers and commanders all said this as well. The vast majority of German tanks at the time were exactly as you describe above, Pzkpfw I and II with large machine guns or very small AT capacity.
Can you identify a single operational unit equipped with a Char B in mid-September 1939? I can't.

On paper, the Somua S35 was the best medium tank in the world in 1939 (outside the Soviet Union). It had a more effective gun and better armour than the German PzKwIII. But battles are fought in the field, not on paper. In the field it was not very effective. The S35 had a one man turret and a three man crew (commander, radio operator / provisioner / mechanic, and driver / mechanic). The tank commander occupied the turret. In addition to commanding the tank, he had to acquire the target, load the gun, aim the gun, fire the gun and communicate (by signal flags) with the other tanks in the platoon. (Only the platoon commander's tank was equipped with a radio.) Only the commander and driver had an outside view, which was quite restricted when buttoned up. There was no machine gun to keep infantry off. (The S35 was intended to fight tanks, after all, not infantry - typical French compartmentalising of tank roles). The S35 was difficult to maintain and spare parts were in short supply.

In contrast a PzKwIII had a five man crew including a three man turret. The commander commanded the tank, communicated by radio with the other tanks in the platoon, and helped acquire targets. The gunner aimed and fired the gun and the turret machine gun and helped acquire targets. The loader loaded the gun. The bow gunner operated the radio and the hull machine gun and helped acquire targets. The driver drove and helped acquire targets. The Germans had twice the eyeballs looking for targets, from a hull that provided better vision when buttoned up. They had superior optics for aiming the gun. They had more than twice the effective rate of fire. The tanks were easier to maintain, and spare parts were generally in adequate supply.

So if a group of Somuas was to move to fight a similar sized group of PZKwIIIs:
  • more of the PzKwIIIs would arrive at the battle,
  • the PzKwIIIs were more likely to see the enemy first,
  • when the enemy was spotted the other German tanks were going to be informed sooner and more completely,
  • the Germans were going to get off the first shots,
  • and fire more than twice as many shots in any given time span,
  • the superior tactical control afforded by the German machines would mean their platoon-mates were more likely to be able to manoeuvre to overcome the nominal superiority of the French guns and armour.
And that's what happened in actual battle. The Battle of Hannut was the largest tank vs. tank battle the world had seen until the invasion of Russia. It featured 176 S35 Main Battle Tanks (MBTs) up against 82 PzkwII and 50 PzKwIv MBTs, 238 H35 light tanks against 239 PzKwII light tanks, and 154 machine-gun-armed French tankettes and armoured cars against 252 machine-gun-armed German tankettes. Despite having the advantage of being on the defensive and having a 4:3 numerical advantage of supposedly superior MBTs, the French had permanent losses of more than twice as many tanks (121:49) and yielded the field.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DoOrDoNot View Post
I agree with most of this. However if they weren't intending on a major armored offensive than the terrain was irrelevant.
It is relevant to the question of whether the French could have used their tanks effectively in an all-out offensive in the area. If they couldn't, it didn't really matter what numerical advantage the French had.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DoOrDoNot View Post
I disagree. I think the failure of the French and British to do anything vs. Germany after Germany invaded Poland had little to do with their combat capability. There were many other much more important reasons they didn't launch an invasion, and had they, I believe they would have made significant problems for the Germans.
There were a number of reasons the French didn't press an attack in or after September. Their estimates of combat capability were an important part of their considerations. Read the surviving documents.

Your reason for thinking that the French could "have made significant problems for the Germans" seems to come down to nothing more than a simple application of raw numbers, without actually considering the effects of doctrine, training, leadership, systems capability, terrain, and logistics. A proper capability assessment must include all these things.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DoOrDoNot View Post
I disagree. It's easy to get caught up in how bad the French armed forces were because they were so easily trounced by the Germans in 1940, but that failure was a manifold one. The French had one of the most modern, well trained, as well as the largest armed forces in the world at the time. Combat capability, equipment and training was low on their list of problems.
Sure the French had a large, modern and well-trained armed force. But the Germans had a larger, more modern and better trained force. The British were also better trained and arguably more modern, though much less numerous.

Is the S35, a tank not equipped with radios below the platoon commander level and with only a one man turret an example of a modern tank? Tactically, and operationally, it was less modern than the British cruiser tanks, which were in turn less modern then the PzKwIII and IV. And French employment of tanks other than those in the DLMs was practically identical to WWI practice. Do you call that "modern"? In fact, the French were forbidden by law to call AFVs attached to cavalry units (like the DLMs and DLCs) "tanks". The German infantry squad was centred on the MG34 - a squad automatic weapon not equalled by any other army during the war.

The French did not have the same degree of tactical air support or air supply that the Germans demonstrated. Aircraft losses indicate that the German front-line fighter aircraft were more effective than the French models. Is this indicative of a more modern, better-trained, more capable French air force?

Quote:
Originally Posted by DoOrDoNot View Post
They weren't outgunned, they were outmaneuvered.
How does a modern, well-trained, large and high-capability force get out-manoeuvred? Why does it lose most of the battles it fights?

Quote:
Originally Posted by DoOrDoNot View Post
I agree that the French were defensive minded and that is the major reason they didn't attack germany. But they mounted many strong counterattacks during the invasion of France, one of which almost ended the German offensive in complete disaster,...
Oh, really?

Quote:
Originally Posted by DoOrDoNot View Post
... and had they attacked Germany in 1939, they would have given the Germans some real problems.
Please provide some evidence besides raw numbers to back up this claim.

You wouldn't happen to be French would you?
DoTheMath is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-05-2017, 12:04 AM   #16
DoOrDoNot
adept
 
Join Date: Apr 2010
Posts: 1,149
Re: What could the French really do after Poland?

Quote:
Originally Posted by DoTheMath View Post
That's not what the Wikipedia article says. It says the French had a plan that called for 40 divisions, not that they actually had 40 divisions available. Can you name those 40 divisions and specify their locations or at least the larger formations to which they were assigned?

The German Order of Battle on September 1, had the following divisions assigned to Army Group C, which is what faced France:
In 5 Army, Eifel: 16, 26, 69, 86, 211, 227 Infantry
In 1 Army, Saarplatz: 6, 9, 15, 25, 33, 34, 36, 52, 71, 79, 214, 231, 246 Infantry
In 7 Army, Oberrhein: 5, 35, 78, 212, 215 Infantry, 14 Landwehr
In Army Group reserve*: 22, 87, 209, 216, 223, 225, 251, 253, 254 Infantry
In addition OKW Reserve had the following divisions assigned: 56, 57, 58, 75, 76, 252, 257, 258, 260, 262, 263, 267 Infantry

* I forgot to include the Army Group reserve in my previous post.

That's 46 divisions available to defend Germany from the French. Not all of them were in the area attacked by France. It is possible the article came up with a figure of 22 Divisions by adding the Army Group reserve to the divisions of 1 Army.


Really? I don't think they had that many divisions mobilized. Can you identify all 98 divisions, and their assigned higher formations? The best I can come up with as a list of French Divisions fully mobilized and in France (or Germany) by September 16th is this:
1st & 2nd Light Mechanized divisions (DLM)
1st, 2nd & 3rd Light Cavalry divisions (DLC)
1-16, 18-36, 41-43, 45, 47, 51-54, 56-58, 60-63, 70-71, Infantry divisions (DI & DIM)
64-66 Mountain Infantry divisions (DI)
1st Moroccan (DM), 1-5 North African divisions (DINA), 1-7 Colonial Infantry Division (DIC)

That's a total of 74 divisions. Which ones am I missing? I suspect that the number 98 to which you refer was the total number of French divisions in existence at any time before the surrender in 1940, not the number of divisions operational in mid-September..

It should be noted that not all of these 74 were available to serve at the front in mid-September, and that a few were understrength or missing equipment.

Regarding the gaps in the numbers above:
I can find no record of 17 DI being formed before 21 May 1940.
I can find no record of 38-39, 46, 48-50, 59, or 69 DI ever being formed.
40 DI was formed 31 May 1940.
44 DI was formed 1 March 1940
55 DI was formed 3 October 1939
67 DI was in the process of mobilizing at Toulouse on 16 September 1939.
68 DI was formed 15 January 1940
71 was the largest number given to a regular infantry division.
Five fortress infantry divisions were formed in 1940, numbered 101-105 DIF.
3rd, 4th and 7th DLM were formed in 1940, the latter two from remnants of 1st & 4th DLC. I can find no record of there ever having been a 5th, 6th or 8th DLM or higher.
4th - 6th DLC were formed in 1940. There was no higher-numbered DLC.
The armoured divisions, 1-4 DCR, were all formed in 1940.


IDK where you are getting your figures. I make it 46 German divisions in Army Group C and OKW reserve. I suppose some of the OKW reserve may have been committed to Poland. Most of the French tanks were in the Army Group which was covering the Belgian frontier. The Wikipedia article on the Saar Campaign lists only 400 French tanks as available for the campaign. AFAIK, none were actually used.The article omits the divisional and regimental artillery from the count of German artillery. Typically there would be 12 heavy and 36 medium artillery pieces in the division's artillery regiment, and 6 heavy and 18 light infantry guns spread between the infantry regiments. That's 72 guns per division.

That may have been the standard for the French, but the Germans could often do it in about 5 days.

Can you identify a single operational unit equipped with a Char B in mid-September 1939? I can't.

On paper, the Somua S35 was the best medium tank in the world in 1939 (outside the Soviet Union). It had a more effective gun and better armour than the German PzKwIII. But battles are fought in the field, not on paper. In the field it was not very effective. The S35 had a one man turret and a three man crew (commander, radio operator / provisioner / mechanic, and driver / mechanic). The tank commander occupied the turret. In addition to commanding the tank, he had to acquire the target, load the gun, aim the gun, fire the gun and communicate (by signal flags) with the other tanks in the platoon. (Only the platoon commander's tank was equipped with a radio.) Only the commander and driver had an outside view, which was quite restricted when buttoned up. There was no machine gun to keep infantry off. (The S35 was intended to fight tanks, after all, not infantry - typical French compartmentalising of tank roles). The S35 was difficult to maintain and spare parts were in short supply.

In contrast a PzKwIII had a five man crew including a three man turret. The commander commanded the tank, communicated by radio with the other tanks in the platoon, and helped acquire targets. The gunner aimed and fired the gun and the turret machine gun and helped acquire targets. The loader loaded the gun. The bow gunner operated the radio and the hull machine gun and helped acquire targets. The driver drove and helped acquire targets. The Germans had twice the eyeballs looking for targets, from a hull that provided better vision when buttoned up. They had superior optics for aiming the gun. They had more than twice the effective rate of fire. The tanks were easier to maintain, and spare parts were generally in adequate supply.

So if a group of Somuas was to move to fight a similar sized group of PZKwIIIs:
  • more of the PzKwIIIs would arrive at the battle,
  • the PzKwIIIs were more likely to see the enemy first,
  • when the enemy was spotted the other German tanks were going to be informed sooner and more completely,
  • the Germans were going to get off the first shots,
  • and fire more than twice as many shots in any given time span,
  • the superior tactical control afforded by the German machines would mean their platoon-mates were more likely to be able to manoeuvre to overcome the nominal superiority of the French guns and armour.
And that's what happened in actual battle. The Battle of Hannut was the largest tank vs. tank battle the world had seen until the invasion of Russia. It featured 176 S35 Main Battle Tanks (MBTs) up against 82 PzkwII and 50 PzKwIv MBTs, 238 H35 light tanks against 239 PzKwII light tanks, and 154 machine-gun-armed French tankettes and armoured cars against 252 machine-gun-armed German tankettes. Despite having the advantage of being on the defensive and having a 4:3 numerical advantage of supposedly superior MBTs, the French had permanent losses of more than twice as many tanks (121:49) and yielded the field.

It is relevant to the question of whether the French could have used their tanks effectively in an all-out offensive in the area. If they couldn't, it didn't really matter what numerical advantage the French had.

There were a number of reasons the French didn't press an attack in or after September. Their estimates of combat capability were an important part of their considerations. Read the surviving documents.

Your reason for thinking that the French could "have made significant problems for the Germans" seems to come down to nothing more than a simple application of raw numbers, without actually considering the effects of doctrine, training, leadership, systems capability, terrain, and logistics. A proper capability assessment must include all these things.

Sure the French had a large, modern and well-trained armed force. But the Germans had a larger, more modern and better trained force. The British were also better trained and arguably more modern, though much less numerous.

Is the S35, a tank not equipped with radios below the platoon commander level and with only a one man turret an example of a modern tank? Tactically, and operationally, it was less modern than the British cruiser tanks, which were in turn less modern then the PzKwIII and IV. And French employment of tanks other than those in the DLMs was practically identical to WWI practice. Do you call that "modern"? In fact, the French were forbidden by law to call AFVs attached to cavalry units (like the DLMs and DLCs) "tanks". The German infantry squad was centred on the MG34 - a squad automatic weapon not equalled by any other army during the war.

The French did not have the same degree of tactical air support or air supply that the Germans demonstrated. Aircraft losses indicate that the German front-line fighter aircraft were more effective than the French models. Is this indicative of a more modern, better-trained, more capable French air force?

How does a modern, well-trained, large and high-capability force get out-manoeuvred? Why does it lose most of the battles it fights?

Oh, really?

Please provide some evidence besides raw numbers to back up this claim.

You wouldn't happen to be French would you?
No lol I am not French. I like the detail and thought you put into your posts. I guess we have to agree to disagree. I will concede to you.
DoOrDoNot is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-05-2017, 06:50 PM   #17
campfirewest
Pooh-Bah
 
campfirewest's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 2006
Posts: 5,604
Re: What could the French really do after Poland?

Quote:
Originally Posted by DoOrDoNot View Post
No lol I am not French. I like the detail and thought you put into your posts. I guess we have to agree to disagree. I will concede to you.
You say you aren't French, and yet you surrendered pretty easily........ 🤔
campfirewest is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-05-2017, 07:22 PM   #18
DoOrDoNot
adept
 
Join Date: Apr 2010
Posts: 1,149
Re: What could the French really do after Poland?

Quote:
Originally Posted by campfirewest View Post
You say you aren't French, and yet you surrendered pretty easily........ 🤔
Lol +100
DoOrDoNot is offline   Reply With Quote

Reply
      

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off


Forum Jump


All times are GMT -4. The time now is 02:53 PM.


Powered by vBulletin®
Copyright ©2000 - 2017, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.
Copyright © 2008-2010, Two Plus Two Interactive
 
 
Poker Players - Streaming Live Online