Discussion in 'What If - European Theater - Western Front & Atlan' started by T. A. Gardner, Jan 9, 2009.
Corps Unit Index for 1 Duke of York's Own
Sorry, that last link is a gateway to British units in ww2. Not a site for Duke of Yorks.
Quite likely a bloodbath whoever wins. Consider the Losses I posted above
1940 vs Holland, Belgium, France, Britian - Six weeks
Loss per Div............1,270
Enemy Div .............1,107
Compare with six weeks vs the USSR
Loss per Div............1,580
Enemy Div .............1,160
Basically the half ready partially mobilized reservists in either the east or west inflicted a similar loss rate on the German military. Now consider the German losses over the first ten weeks of the Barbarosa campaign. Slightly over 400,000 depending on who's book you use. Since the casualty rates matched fairly closely the first sic weeks it is not unreasonable they could be used as a basis for estimating casualties for another four weeks of fighting in the west. So German casualties may soon exceed 300,000. A second consideration here is that unless the Germans can figure out another way to unbalance the Allied armys, out manuver them, to create a fluid battle where they can inflict large scale damage, they are likely to suffer a higher loss rate than historically. ie: In the latter four weeks the Germans lost as many men as in the first six. that is the loss rate per divsion jumps from: 1,580 per divsion/6 = 263 per week, to: 373 per week. Why? Because the enemy was no longer unmoblized, unarmed, & unorganized. The RKKA had defects galore to be sure but they did inflict some 400,000+ losses on the Germans. A fully mobilized, entrenched, and coordinated Allied defense may very well do better, or at least equal the Soviet inflicted rate of August 1941. 373 per week per div for ten weeks = 465,000 casualties. How long would the German morale of 1940 hold up to that loss rate if there is not a spectacular and quick victory?
Losses in the air are going to be worse. The GAF started 10 may 1940 with some 2,750 combat aircraft & lost over 800 by the cease fire. @ 137 a week a ten week long battle knocks the GAF down by almost 1400 aircraft leaving barely half the original combat force. What really sucks for the Germans is that Hitler had ordered the production reduced to a 'accident replacement rate' of just a few dozen aircraft per month. Conversely Allied aircraft production was rising, particularly for the French. Their factorys were completing retooling for the newer models and had just started up some new production facilities. Also some 300 aircraft had arrived from the US in May and were under assembly in June. Another 300 were enroute in June, and more were scheduled for shipment in July. The bottom line here is that were the battle to run on into July/August the GAF will be dropping below half strength while the factorys back home frantically restart production. Meanwhile between British and French production and arrivals from the US becoming combat ready the Allies are going to add over 1200 replacements to their side of the ledger.
Note that the GAF had also shut down its pilot training schools, using the instructrs to fill out the combat formations. The Allies of course did not such thing & their flight schools were still graduating pilots at full capacity in June.
Of course faced with a hostile Belgium & Holland Hitler might see sense and keep the aircraft factorys in full production and fill out the flight schools instead of shutting them down. But, unless his generals can come up with another way to trick the Allied armys into a bad manuver it will be a nasty battle of attrition, which is not a war wiinner for Germany.
"Sands of Dunkirk" by Collier. He does make a pretty dark picture of the training the men had had as well as the weapons they were missing. Thats´why I would like to hear more.
Gort seems to have said " We came to the wrong war!" which means what exactly? Some sources claim he meant that their weapons and tactics were too old to start with?!
We know the Germans did practice all through the winter and spring for the offensive, the Germans always do. And in the West it seems people were waiting for the good weather to be able to take sun on the beaches and visit their family. Must say definitely a very different approach that also must have been affecting the end result. We know that the Germans losses in every sector were bigger once the firs phase was over, i.e. the sichelschnitt and Dunkirk, so it was also a matter of mental approach to the warfare and not just the better tactics.
The 6th apparntly was a Pioneer corps battalion. Mening spades and shovels. But I would still assume they had personal weapons. If not I am amazed. I know the standard of training and equipment varied considerably, but I always thought they would have at least been provided with a personal weapon in the army if not the RAF.
NOTES ON ORGANISATION AND EQUIPMENT
Since 1940 there have been radical changes in the British Army. It may be well therefore to add a general indication of its organisation and equipment at the time of this campaign, while emphasising the fact that the notes have no relevance to the position at any subsequent date. It should also be recognised that, owing to shortages in 1940, units of the British Expeditionary Force were not all up to strength or fully equipped in every respect.
G.H.Q. Troops: The troops listed under this heading did not constitute a 'formation', but were a pool of troops at the disposal of General Headquarters. They were allocated, temporarily or permanently, to corps or other formations, or were used for special purposes. The light armoured reconnaissance brigades were usually employed in the role of divisional cavalry, and most of the artillery shown in G.H.Q. troops was permanently allocated to corps and disposed to cover the corps front. Thus an infantry brigade in the line was supported not only by the field artillery of the division to which it belonged and by the field and medium artillery of the corps, but also by the field, medium and heavy artillery allocated to corps from G.H.Q. troops.
Corps: Consisted of a headquarters, corps troops, and two or more infantry divisions. Thus is strength varied from time to time according to the number of its divisions.
Infantry Division: Consisted of a headquarters, divisional troops, and three infantry brigades. Its strength was approximately 13,600 of all ranks.
Infantry Brigade: Comprised a headquarters and three infantry battalions and a brigade anti-tank company with nine 25-mm. guns. It strength was approximately 2,500 of all ranks.
Armoured Division: The establishment of an armoured division in April 1940 provided for a headquarters divisional troops, two armoured brigades, and a support group which consisted of artillery and two motorised infantry battalions. The 1st Armoured Division, the only one ready for dispatch to France in May 1940, never fought as a complete division.
Armoured Brigade: Consisted of three armoured regiments or three battalions of the Royal Tank Regiment.
Light Armoured Reconnaissance Brigade: Comprised two divisional cavalry regiments.
Army Tank Brigade: Comprised two army tank battalions.
Armoured Units of the British Expeditionary Force consisted of mechanised Cavalry regiments and battalions of the Royal Tank Regiment. Cavalry were either organised as 'armoured car regiments', 'divisional cavalry regiments', or 'cavalry light tank regiments'. Battalions of the Royal Tank Regiment were either organised as 'armoured regiments' or as 'army tank battalions'.
Armoured Car Regiment: Organised as headquarters and three squadrons, and equipped with 38 armoured cars, each with a light machine gun1 and an anti-tank rifle.2 The total strength was about 380.
The 12th Lancers was the only armoured car regiment used in the campaign.
Divisional Cavalry Regiment: Consisted of headquarters and three squadrons equipped with twenty-eight light tanks3 and forty-four carriers.4 Each
light tank had two Vickers machine guns and each carrier one light machine gun. The strength was about 480 officers and men and for personal weapons they had 240 pistols, 296 rifles, ten light machine guns and ten anti-tank rifles. The cavalry regiments shown in the list as G.H.Q. troops and those shown in the two light armoured reconnaissance brigades were organised on this basis.
Cavalry Light Tank Regiment: Headquarters, a headquarters squadron and three squadrons equipped with fifty-eight light tanks, five armoured cars and personal weapons. The cruiser tank carried a 2-pounder gun. The total strength was about 575 of all ranks. The battalions of the Royal Tank Regiment shown in the list under the 1st Armoured Division were organised on this basis.
Army Tank Battalion: Organised as headquarters and three squadrons and equipped with 50 'I' tanks, seven light tanks and eight carriers. The infantry or 'I' tank was armed with a machine gun or a 2-pounder gun. Light tanks had machine guns (see above). The strength was about 590; personal weapons were pistols, nine light machine guns and nine anti-tank rifles. Battalions of the Royal Tank Regiment shown in the 1st Army Tank Brigade were organised on this basis.
Note: All artillery was tractor-drawn.
Field Regiment: Organised as headquarters and two batteries each of twelve guns. Their armament varied. The 18-pounder gun and the 4·5 howitzer were to be superseded by a new 25-pounder gun-howitzer and until this was available 18-pounders were being converted to 25-pounders. At this time field regiments were armed either with 18-pounders and 4·5 howitzers or with converted 18/25 pounders. The strength of a field regiment was approximately 580 officers and men, and for personal weapons they had seventy-five pistols, 113 rifles, fourteen light machine guns and thirteen anti-tank rifles. It was with these personal weapons that many fought as infantry in the last few days of the withdrawal to Dunkirk.
Medium Regiment: Consisted of headquarters and two batteries, each of either 6-inch howitzers or eight 60-pounder guns. The new 4·5/60-pounders were just coming into production. The strength was about 650 of all ranks, armed with sixty-eight pistols, 117 rifles, ten light machine guns and nine anti-tank rifles.
Heavy Regiment: Headquarters and four batteries. Each regiment had four 6-inch guns and either twelve 8-inch or twelve 9·2 howitzers. The strength of a heavy regiment was about 700 all ranks, with fifty-three pistols, 205 rifles, ten light machine guns and seventeen anti-tank rifles.
Anti-Tank Regiment: Headquarters and four batteries, each of twelve 2-pounder anti-tank guns or in some cases of 25-mm. guns. The strength was about 540 and their personal weapons were seventy-seven pistols, 182 rifles, sixty-six light machine guns, thirteen anti-tank rifles.
Anti-Aircraft Regiment: Headquarters and three or four batteries, each of eight 3·7 anti-aircraft guns. Personal weapons were pistols, rifles, light machine guns and anti-tank rifles.
Light Anti-Aircraft Regiment: Headquarters and three or four batteries, each of twelve (Bofors) 40-mm. light anti-aircraft guns. Personal weapons were similar to those of an anti-aircraft regiment. The Bofors gun could be set for automatic fire and was capable of firing 120 2-pound shells a minute for a normal range of up to 1,500 yards.
Light Anti-Aircraft and Anti-Tank Regiment: Planned to consist of headquarters and four batteries, i.e. two batteries each of twelve 40-mm. light anti-aircraft guns and two batteries of twelve 2-pounder anti-tank guns. The only regiment which went to France (with the 1st Armoured Division), was, however, short of its twenty-four anti-aircraft guns.
The strength of a regiment was about 740, with ninety-six pistols, 168 rifles, sixteen anti-tank rifles and thirty-eight light machine guns as personal weapons.
Infantry Battalion: An infantry battalion had a total strength of approximately 780 organised in battalion headquarters, headquarters company and four rifle companies. Its main armament was 734 rifles,5 fifty light machine guns, two 3-inch mortars,6 twelve 2-inch mortars7 and twenty two anti-tank rifles. It had ten carriers.
Machine-Gun Battalion: Headquarters, headquarters company and four machine-gun companies, each armed with twelve machine-guns. These were the Vickers ·303, firing belt ammunition. In addition to these forty-eight machine guns the battalion had, as personal weapons, 175 pistols, 559 rifles and eighteen light machine guns. The full strength was about 740.
Motor-Cycle Battalion: Organised as headquarters, a headquarters company and three motor-cycle companies and equipped with eleven scout cars, ninety-nine motor-cycle combinations (side-car) and forty-three motor-cycles. The battalion, about 550 strong, was armed with forty-three light machine guns, seventeen anti-tank rifles and nine 2-inch mortars, and had as personal weapons 227 pistols and 355 rifles.
In Bolougne where large numbers of none combat British troops of the BEF's supply lines, notably a battalion of pioneers, elderly trench diggers and bricklayers,many of whom had barely handled a rifle since 1918. Their commanding officer Lt.Col Dean had won the VC in the previous war against the Germans Proudly he led his token soldiers into the line alongside the splendid giants of the Welsh and Irish Guardsm and could fairly claim he honour of covering the footguards retreat.
The pioneers could harldly be blamed if they failed to live up to their commanding officers soldierly standards,......On the quay a panic stricken rabble of auxillery pioneers tried to rush the ship but were driven back by the demolition party at the point of the bayonet.
Then there were mobile bath units who held the line for as long as possible.
The 9th Northumberland Fusiliers, who had done no more than build airfields and trenchworks as a territorial battalion suddenly found themselves in the front line while their commanding officer dissapeared.
Other units placed upturned plates in roads to act as anti tank mines.
Many of the odds and sods stood but many didnt.
Its just a fact that the British army in France had as many support troops labelled as divisional troops as they did teeth arms.
Many fought many threw their rifles down under the orders of everyman for themselves.
The more disiplined fighting units though pulled off many heroic deeds. But so too did some of the useless mouth battalions.
Duplicate...I;ll stop posting till ive sorted my machine out sorry
Yes the Germans did complete what the US Army currently refers to as a 'unit training cycle', and the Allied soldiers spent a lot of time digging trenches or setting out barbed wire. Tho it is common to exaggerate both sides of this. Siegfreid Knappe describes his reserve divsion, the 84th, arriving in the Siegfried Line in early October to find nothing there but a few surveyors stakes. His artillery battery spent the next three months digging trenches for the infantry and bunkers for themselves. It was not until late winter they finally begain training more than a few days a month.
In the case of the French it seems manditory to hold forth on the deffects of the B divsions like the 55th, 61st, & 71st as representative of the French army. The combat performance of the 14th, 3rd DLM, or 1 Moroccans is passed lightly over.
Aren't we forgetting the reason for the left flank of the allied line swinging forward (French 7th Army, BEF, parts of the Belgian Army) to the Dyle River was to put the port of Antwerp "safely" in the rear? That port was sorley needed if WW1 was to be replayed. Nobody (on the Allied side) expected the panzers to advance through the Ardenne, then punch through at Sedan before making a mad dash towards the English Channel. With Belgium still in the alliance, I still believe that the BEF and the French 7th would not have been able to make it back to Dunkirk. The war would have taken a dredful turn at that point.
Have we ruled out the possibility that the Allies might be a bit more aggressive in September 1939?
Hitler could still invade Poland, but instead of facing only a few abortive attempts in the West, the long border with Belgium and the Netherlands invites a full-scale Allied invasion across the Rhine.
On home soil, with better command and mobility, the Germans are able to pull off a Tannenberg-style rout of the advancing Allies. Goebbels has an easy time convincing Germans that they are fighting a defensive war, and the Western Allies are left facing a long war and pundits making Teutoburg Forest comparisons.
One or two more Allied catastrophes and it's possible there could have been a peace favorable to Germany.
Kai, I've found much info on what you ask about British in Field Marshal Carver's Britains army in the 20th Century.
But I'll put it in word doc and post on a new thread later or I'll confuse the Belgian thread.
I don´t know how true this is bit it is in Collier´s book on BEF:
" The artillery was poor. None of Gort´s army´s artillery gun´s range reached half of that of the Germans´. Not many had been fired even once before May 10th 1940- because the lock mechanisms had not arrived from England in time (?)."
I´d be interested in the locks- why would they not be sent with the guns?
Sounds grossly distorted or missapplied to me. The 18lbr & 18/25lbr guns were only slightly off in range from the German equivalent the FH18. Not much difference in corps artillery either. In the second case the artillery of the British corps that actually advanced into Belgium was reasonably well trained. In some cases I suspect better trained than the German artillery. I've got several eyewitness accounts by Brit artillery officers of this campaign. Their descritptions are of a well trained and disciplined group fighting a increasingly difficult retrograde action. The untrained and unequipped units that have been frequently refered to in this thread remained behind in France continuing at their LOC duties, until the emergency caught up with them.
I can think of some rather stupid technical reasons why firing locks might be seperated from the guns. Since both German and British accounts of fightng the BEF included refrences to large scale Brit artillery fires it is clear this 'firing lock' thing was not a general condition. Actually I've never heard it before.
If they have a much different leadership. Gamelin & Georges, and the other senior French generals, were committed to a stratgey of care & caution. The doctrine of the Methodical Battle extended to the stratigic relam as well as the tactical.
Attacking across the Rhine would be logisitcally difficult for any Allied army of 1939-40. Also it would be unecessary. Take a look at the map, notice how advancing with one flank on Masstricht and the other on the Saar brings the Alles into the Rhineland and the western exstention of the Ruhr. That would be catastrophic to German industrial production.
The French did start a attack in September 1939. The 'Saar Offensive' cleared the Germansaway from the French border. When it was obvious Poland had collapsed & surrender was announced the French attack was canceled and they withdrew.
Gamelins overall strategy was to wait over a year before starting limited offensives. Dalider was probablly correct in thinking Gamelin would have to be replaced & the senior generals purged before any aggresive plans would be executed. Much of the senior French leadership would have to be replaced as they shared Gamelins views on methodical preperation. If hey were replaced after September 1939 then the new and younger men would not have much time to conjure up a offensive. They would not likely to undertake a attack the army cant handle. If the change comes in 1938 after the Cezch crisis then a new generation of commanders would have time to revamp the plans, and a few precious months to institute some critical changes in training and organization.
Yes, & that was also the reason for the 7th Armys role in the 'Breda' gambit.
Absolutely not true. The French sent half their mechanised force into the Ardennes to reinforce the Belgians. The latter had built extensive permanent fortifications in the Ardennes. On mobilization the Belgians planned on having four motorized divsions backed by two infantry div. & two more available to reinforce the area. If both the French and Belgians had a significant part of their mtorized and mechanised forces commited to operating in the Ardennes why would they not think the Germans could do so as well? French intellegence had correctly located most of the German tank divsions and motor infantry div in or adjacent to the Schnee Eifel region. It did occur to them that the "panzers' might attack through the Ardennes. The 2d Army Commander Huntziger discussed the possiblity in a brief for Pretlat & Georges in March.
This crappy myth has persisted, endlessly repeated despite the easily available evidence from any number of historians.
Huntzinger thought the German attack would be directed towards Paris, or at the industrial citys in eastern France. Georges saw Paris as the primary target. Billotte & Gort were concerned about their position so naturally focused on a German attack towards the coast. Everyone had seen what the Germans had done in Poland and they were quite aware of the possiblities. There were other ways they were suprised, but not by that the Germans attempted a breakthough and penetration deep into the Allied rear. That attempt was expected.
The 7th Army never made it "to the coast". The HQ was dissolved after the Breda effort failed & the Dutch surrendered. One infantry corps was trapped on the Scheldt estuary. Two motorized infantry and one tank (1st DLM) divsions raced back south to cover the right flank of the 1st Army and were destroyed. The survivors joined the 1st Army near Dunkirk.
And, it did not because Belgium became a ally in May 1940 rather than September 1939?
Great post. I especially liked this bit. It is so true...
why do you think that historians have perpetuated this myth for so long??
Its also a myth that Gamelin dismissed any advance thru that region also.
Anyway, "interesting" though that once the Germans were pushing through in the Ardennes section it did not take many days for the French to say that " The war is lost".( 15th may Reynaud to Churchill ). Not surprised that Churchill did not understand any of that talk.
Depends on the 'historian'. Those like Horne have not. You can usually find remarks in their text that clarify exactly how the French regarded the Ardennes region. What I call the "Pop Historys" recycle this old cannard, probablly becasue it is simple and was oft repeated by some well known commentators back in the 1940s & 1950s. The serious scholarly work in the English language did not much apperar in print until the 1960s or late 50s, so the story was already well established in print. At least the old myth of the Germans having 12,000 tanks in 1940 has been long RIP.
That one may have its origin in a report given by Weygand in the mid 1930s. He was giving a verbal brief on the progress of the frontier fortification contruction inside France. When he pointed on the map to the bit of Ardennes forrest that extends south from Belgium into France, between Sedan and Montherme he remarked something about no fortifications need be built there, if it is properly defended. Since he used the term "Ardennes" the remark has been applied to the Belgian region. Of course I have not seen a direct quote of this susposed lecture or report, and it is possible someone did judge the Ardennes 'impassable'.
Gamelin did approve the construction of fortifications facing the Belgian Ardennes, both when appointed as chief of the army and later after war was declared. He also approved the plan to send all five mechanized cavalry divsions into the Belgian Ardennes. Then there were plans for reiforcing the 2d and 9th Armys sctors with powerfull reserves, which Gamelin approved as well. So it is not like he ignored the area. His error and that of Gerorges or the others lay in other items, not in the defenseability of the area.
Perhaps the largest error was in thinking the Germans would require approx ten days to properly advance and prepare for an attack on the main defense zone behind the Meuse River. That would been on the 19th or 20th of May. They judged correctly it would take that long to bring up the heavy artillery, ammunition, infantry divsions, and engineers for a deliberate attack. The idea that light mechanized forces with little infantry, a quarter of the artillery, and understrength enginner units would attempt a river crossing on the fly was judged impractical by the French commanders.
The speed at which the German army was able to manuver was its principle strength. That included the ability of the air force to orgianze massed air strikes in less than 24 hours. This is why the premise of this WI with is several advantages does not guarantee a Allied victory. Whatever deployment the Allied armys use they still have the disadvantage of underestimating the German operational tempo or speed of action. neither is it guaranteed the Germans would choose a similar solution to their offensive problem, but if they do decide to mass their mechanized force and commit it to a high risk/high pay off manuver they still have chance. perhaps the chance will be smaller and with greater losses but the chance still there.
A second error was in thinking the enemys mass of manuver would be further north in central Belgium. This error is of course well understood & written up. The Dyle Plan and all that. It went hand in hand with the misjudgemnt of the speed or tempo of operations.
I've tried to figure that one out. None of the historians I've read delve much into the French thinking on this. My best guess is Gamelin had decided he could not redeploy his armys fast enough to deal with the German advance. He more than likely knew by then the counter attacks on the Sedan bridgehead had repeatedly failed. And, he also probablly understood the 9th Army with its dozen divsions no longer existed, which offset any advantage of reinforcements on the flanks of the German advance. Seeing a entire army, including all its corps HQ and army commander vanish in just a few days had to be demoralizing. In practical terms Gamelin saw eight infantry, two heavy armored, and three mech cavalry divsions vanish from the OB between the 15th & 19th, plus a armys worth of heavy artillery and support units. On top of that three more infantry and another mech cav div plus support units vaporized in the Sedan sector between the 13th & 16th May.