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French Soldiers Morale

Discussion in 'Western Europe 1939 - 1942' started by panzergrenadiere, Jul 29, 2001.

  1. panzergrenadiere

    panzergrenadiere Member

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    One thing that always confused me when thinking about the fall of France was the French Soldier's attiude. He was eager to give up and had no will to fight. Why is that?
     
  2. talleyrand

    talleyrand Member

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    #1) Most of the French leaders themselves had no will to fight. After the terrible fighting of WWI, on French soil, France was afraid to wage another war. This caused apathy among the ranks.
    #2) Unstable government. I dont remember the exact number, but I think France had 24 different heads of state during the inter war years. The 24 changes of government in 21 years pretty much paralyzed the French goverment between the wars.
    #3) German propaganda. Poland had a respectable army between the wars. Poland had successfully fought Russia, beat and then annexed Lithuanian territory. Pilsudski had operated a semi-oppressive military regime in Poland and had built a respectable military. Germany's wrecking of the Polish army in basically a few days surprised France and England. Then Goebbels propaganda machine started spinning many tales of German advanced weapons and super soldiers that frankly scared the hell out of the French
     
  3. Chris Ray

    Chris Ray Member

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    Much of the blame must lie with the "Maginot Line" mentality, which left the French with little strategic initiative. What little remained was negated by the command structure which was virtually non-existant. Weygand, the French commander remained well back from the front lines with no radio communication. Instead he relied on motorcycle couriers to carry his orders to the front-line commanders. One French officer described Weygand's HQ as "a submarine without a periscope."
    As a consequence of the "Maginot" mentality, mobility was severely restricted and, although allied tanks actually outnumbered the Germans, they were not delivered in sufficient numbers at the point of decision. In other words there was no doctrine of the "schwerpunkt".
    The French soldier, armed with a bad military doctrine, was also badly led. Heavily reliant on artillery and the machine gun, he neither had the initiative to cope with German tactics nor the necessary weapons to cope with fast-moving armour. As they showed later in the war, Free French forces fought bravely and effectively. In 1940 they simply were not allowed to.

    Chris Ray
     
  4. C.Evans

    C.Evans Expert

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    You are all right according to what I just read in von Lucks book: Panzer Commander.
     
  5. panzergrenadiere

    panzergrenadiere Member

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    You started that book, cool. So do you like it so far?
     
  6. C.Evans

    C.Evans Expert

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    Its good, REAL good. Im on the part where he is now a Battalion Commander of the 7th Panzers Recon unit, and they just finished capturing a French Resort Town and liberated a U-Boat officer.

    As this is more my style of book to read, it WILL be in my top five favorites. Soldat, is in it as is Shooting the War, which is number ein (one).
     
  7. talleyrand

    talleyrand Member

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    Only thing I disliked about Panzer Commander is that Von Luck doesnt describe any combat actions that well, and during long periods in Germany and France the book skips and jerks through long periods of time very quickly.
     
  8. C.Evans

    C.Evans Expert

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    Mmmmmm, I too have noticed a bit of skipping, but it still greatly holds my interests. Im on the part where he is on his way to the Afrika Korps.
     
  9. PzJgr

    PzJgr Drill Instructor

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    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Originally posted by Chris Ray:
    Much of the blame must lie with the "Maginot Line" mentality, which left the French with little strategic initiative. What little remained was negated by the command structure which was virtually non-existant. Weygand, the French commander remained well back from the front lines with no radio communication. Instead he relied on motorcycle couriers to carry his orders to the front-line commanders. One French officer described Weygand's HQ as "a submarine without a periscope."
    As a consequence of the "Maginot" mentality, mobility was severely restricted and, although allied tanks actually outnumbered the Germans, they were not delivered in sufficient numbers at the point of decision. In other words there was no doctrine of the "schwerpunkt".
    The French soldier, armed with a bad military doctrine, was also badly led. Heavily reliant on artillery and the machine gun, he neither had the initiative to cope with German tactics nor the necessary weapons to cope with fast-moving armour. As they showed later in the war, Free French forces fought bravely and effectively. In 1940 they simply were not allowed to.

    Chris Ray
    <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    All of it said quite correctly. The French were the Italians of the Allies. Given the right commander, they could be motivated to do more.
     
  10. C.Evans

    C.Evans Expert

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    Funny you should sat that PzJgr, I have ALWAYS thought of the French as the Italians of the allies.

    Like the old joke:

    Anyone want some slightly used French Rifles?


    "Only dropped once." :rolleyes: :rolleyes:
     

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