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Belgium does not remain neutral

Discussion in 'What If - European Theater - Western Front & Atlan' started by T. A. Gardner, Jan 9, 2009.

  1. T. A. Gardner

    T. A. Gardner Genuine Chief

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    What if Belgium (and Luxembourg) were not neutral? Instead, both were openly allied to France and Britain, particularly the latter. With the coming of war in 1939 the French and British deploy their troops forward to the Belgian / German border.

    How would this have effected the outcome of the campaign in the West?

    My suspicion is that it would have ended much like WW 1 in a horrible stalemate rather than a crushing defeat of France. But, the possibility also exists that the Germans have an easer time as France and Britain (along with Belgium) leave the Ardennes largely unguarded and have no major reserves deployed to stop a breakthrough there.

    I think this scenario, Belgium historically was aligned with France and Britain for most of the interwar period, is plausable. Comments?
     
  2. John Dudek

    John Dudek Member

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    It would have given Belgium and to a lesser extent Luxembourg an 8 month grace period to re-arm and expand their armed forces. Fabrique Nationale made some fine firearms, both automatic and otherwise. A well trained and fully equipped Belgian Army could have had some effect on the German offensive in May 1940.
     
  3. A-58

    A-58 Cool Dude

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    I think that it means that the BEF would be too exposed in their forward positions after the German breakthrough in the Ardennes. The BEF, along with the French 7th Army and other units would have probably been not only cut off, but surrounded and forced to surrender as the large pockets of Russian forces were two years later on the Eastern Front. King Leopold dropping Belgium out of the alliance in 1936 just may have saved the BEF from destruction. It might be a stretch, but it's just my idea of course.
     
  4. Wolfy

    Wolfy Ace

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    I honestly don't think that the British (particularly their armored formations) were capable of real war against the Germans at this early stage of the war.
     
  5. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    I think personally that the non-existence of the Strategic reserves for the Allied is the main question. Whether the Allied troops move to Belgium like they did in may 1940 or if they are there already does not change this deficiency, I think.

    Of course there is more to this like the Eben-Emael if it had held etc.
     
  6. urqh

    urqh Tea drinking surrender monkey

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    For one thing it depends on the date of their end of neutrality.
    Maybe one thing will change, the Dyle line may have even been dugout and defence works built and become a real defence line instead of the shock the advancing allied army got on reaching it.

    I dont thing there would be much change to the outcome of a German victory. Depending on if the intital Autumn attack would now take place depending on the 2 countires neutrality and Hitler jumping the gun.

    Allies would still be under the same command structure, and there in lies the problem. Nothing would change in the perception and command of the expected campaign.

    If the attack comes at the actual attack time instead of the Autumn as Hitler first pushed, then the Ardennes remains the same. If it was so important with an Allied Belgium and not as important with them as a neutral then why the French layout of defence in the Sedan area etc. That would not change I believe.

    The main affect would be as A58 says...and the British would be on the Dyle line in advance...slugging it out..Mons part 2 ...quarter of a century later...but this time, perhamps no retreat...The Germans making contact far earlier in that northern area, and the British and French 7th army with Belgians thinking they were holding them.
    Meanwhile Germans do what they did....this time though British are not retreating they think they really are facing the hammer blow, and doesnt help because the French 7th are now with them and all are happy to repeat ww1 or so they think...

    Army does not go home. Halifax replaces Churchill, no back slapping speaches and Churchill goes to write his Marlborogh the retrund from a little log cabin on border of Canada and USA.

    Gort doesnt get the chance to do his own thing, Britain and Germany reach an accomodation at some stage. No base for future American aid and no sight of 7th calvalry coming over the hill and no Gary Owen bugle heared in Liverpool..
     
  7. Za Rodinu

    Za Rodinu Aquila non capit muscas

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    The Sischelscnitt would have gone ahead anyway and the Allies would have been trapped further north even. Your best Wahtif for this would be if von Manstein had got the flu and not been able to present his plan to the Gröfaz.
     
  8. urqh

    urqh Tea drinking surrender monkey

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  9. Miguel B.

    Miguel B. Member

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    What in those days?? The internet was way to slow and kept crashing.



    Cheers...
     
  10. urqh

    urqh Tea drinking surrender monkey

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  11. Za Rodinu

    Za Rodinu Aquila non capit muscas

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    Fax?
     
  12. urqh

    urqh Tea drinking surrender monkey

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  13. A-58

    A-58 Cool Dude

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    Al Gore wasn't old enough to have invented it yet.
     
  14. A-58

    A-58 Cool Dude

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    It's amazing how little things can greatly effect the progression of history. If urgh's scenario would have played out, the Germans would have nothing else to do but look east and prepare, and then the Japanese would have the green light in the Pacific earlier. But with no "Germany First" mantra to take up the bulk of the US war effort, the US would have a much stronger hand in pursuing the war in the Pacific if the Japanese would have moved against the Allies. I just don't think that they had what it took to seriously take on the Soviets, as far as mechanized forces and doctrine, so moving as they did historically would continue as such. Maybe the whole thing would have ended much sooner in the Pacific and Asia, but in Europe, bad times with little to no hope lay ahead for quite some time.
     
  15. Carl W Schwamberger

    Carl W Schwamberger Ace

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  16. John Dudek

    John Dudek Member

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    I've never bought into the argument that nothing more would have been gained by Holland and Belgium entering the war on day 1. The Netherlands were an industrialized, nation, posessing a large merchant marine and a highly competant naval fleet. They had their own aircraft industry that turned out fighter aircraft capable of fighting on equal terms against their Luftwaffe counterparts. Their army, while admittedly small and ill equipped could have had many of these flaws corrected during the next 9 months, had they begun making preparations starting on 1 September, 1939. Historically speaking, in 1940,the Dutch didn't begin mobilizing for war until it was far too late. When the Germans attacked in May, 1940, not only was Holland's Army not fully mobilised, but its own defense plans were never fully put into effect.
     
  17. Carl W Schwamberger

    Carl W Schwamberger Ace

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    Only partially mobilized and suprised tactically the Dutch reservists were able to pin the German 22d Div on its landing areas and prevent its battalions from reaching thier objectives. Even with the 9th Pz Div making contact the situation of the 7th Div was such that the German senior commanders ordered up the 300+ bomber strike on Rotterdam to break the impasse.

    The same situation existed in Belgium. 60% of the army was not in uniform on the morning of 10 May. A partial mobilization of key personnel, some unit leaders and partial staff, had been quietly underway from 1939 but even the best prepared units were not full strength. The 7th Divsion in the critical sector along the Albert Cannal opposite Masstricht was the best prepared with a bit under 70% of its strength mobilized and in the barracks. The other first echelon divsions were at 50 to 60% strength. The second echelon divsions were under 50% strength and the remaining divsions formed in 1939 had just a training cadre and new conscripts in uniform. Of the 22 divsions 8 were in the forward defense positions covering the frontier, with less than half their corps artillery & other support units at hand. In the Ardennes four divsions were susposed to cover the forward defense with two more backing them up. The reality was two were in position on 10 May, & only partially mobilized. They were faced with seven tank divsions, three motorised infantry div, with the advanced guard of two infantry armys right behind.

    Fully mobilized and properly positioned Dutch and Belgian armys present the Germans with a entirely different tactical problem than they faced in May 1940.
     
  18. urqh

    urqh Tea drinking surrender monkey

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    But doesnt that just confirm and make the problem of allied armies trying to hold in the north an even worse one. If this is the case then the British and French with their allies up north are not retreating anywhere fast...The Ardennes is still going to hear the sound of German engines...and they are still going to outflank the Northern armies. No British retreat.
     
  19. Kai-Petri

    Kai-Petri Kenraali

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    Yes, the idea should be to stop the Germans from doing the "sichelschnitt" not pour more troops into the cauldron in the Dunkirk. The Allied main ideology was to create defensive lines against which the Germans would crush their tanks and men. Unless the Allied could do this or change their doctrine the end result would be the same I think. The Allied did not need more men or tanks, better and more planes perhaps, but definitely better plans to stop the Germans.
     
  20. Carl W Schwamberger

    Carl W Schwamberger Ace

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    There seems to be a assumption here that the Allies will use the same or similar Dyle Plan in this case. The Dyle Plan was created to deal with the problem of a nuetral Belgium abruptly drawn into the war. With Belgium & Holland as active participants from the start the deployment of all the Allied armys will evolve differently as they join forces in September/Oct 1939.

    The Dyle Plan recognized the difficulty in establsihing a main defence zone very close to the German frontier where Germany has the intiative and suprise. Because of the small Belgian mobilization and the long movement it was recognized that a advancing German army would have the advantage in numbers & momentum for the first 75-100 kilometers of its advance. French doctrine proposed meeting a offensive with a firmly entrenched defense with massive artillery fires. Such a defense could not be establshed on the fly. The Main Zone proposed for the Dyle Plan was as far forward as seemed practical. This is why the defense of the Ardennes was botched creating a weakness.

    With two uninterupted months at the start the Alles have the leasure to establsih a main defence zone closer to the frontier. They also are able to build a much more solid forward zone. On 10 May the Belgians had only four divsions deployed along the expected lines of advance of the Germans, and those were between 70% & 60% strength. The remainder were either deployed along the Belgian/Dutch border or in the Liege fortress. The remainder of the Belgian army was distributed near the mobilization centers in the interior. This scenario makes available 18 fully mobilized divsions (four more would not yet be combat ready), so the number on the frontier facing the main attack can be doubled.

    Further the French have no reason to deploy their mobilizing units as Historically. The entire 2d Army can have its October 1939 front reduced from 140+ kilometers to under 100 kilometers by advancing forward to place its left flank on Liege rather than the Givet/Namur left flank.

    The bottom line here is the allies have the time to establish a forward defense zone on the frontier of nearly triple the density as actually existed. Behind that a firmly set in main defense zone with backup positions and reserves. This is not at all beyond the comprehension of the French or Belgian commanders, as it is the basic concept of their war plans during the 1920s & early 1930s.
     
    urqh likes this.

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