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France keeps fighting after June 1940


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#41 swerve

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Posted 15 August 2009 - 0831 AM

I don't think there'd be enough Frenchmen on the loose to absorb a major share of the aid. But the impact on Barbarossa should be considered. Would the Battle of Britain proceed as in OTL, & if not, how might this affect Barbarossa? What would happen in the Mediterranean & Balkans, & how would it affect Barbarossa? Would German troops be diverted into Balkan adventures as in OTL? If so, how many? More? Fewer? Would the fighting last longer, & involve more, causing a delay in Barbarossa? OR would there be no invasion of Greece, no distraction, & Barbarossa launched earlier?
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#42 Argus

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Posted 15 August 2009 - 1046 AM

'Frenchmen' probably not, but France had a very large colonial population to draw on for more troops, and there's a lot of secondary factors. For example dump another 100,000+ people in French North Africa then build up the training/operational infrastructure from 1940; and the whole Battle of the Atlantic changes shape. Some of this is to the good, better MPA coverage, others for ill, more convoys at sea so diluting the escort forces/increasing risk factors, and less tonnage available for other uses right from the start.

Having a massive French army in North Africa pretty much means Invasion is going to be a double punch with 'Dragoon' being a lot more than a token, as there's a limit on how many troops can be staged though the UK.

Supporting all this though LL is going to need different goods to those sent OTL to Russia, but the sum total is going to be pretty bloody impressive and it'll comes out of the same basic pool, just in different forms - I think :) Fewer oil refinery's and more landing craft, less raw aluminum and more aircraft, explosives ready packed as bombs, plus food and fuel etc etc.

Russia will also be coming to the LL table last, so anything going to Russia pretty much has to come out of someone else's mouth, and then there's the politics. With France staying in the war, the UK has not had to 'stand alone' to the same degree, the darkest hour will have been less dark even from just having the moral support. This might make LL less likely short of US entry into the war, but it makes Stalin stand out from the allies even more. He's going to be less 'the enemy of my enemy hence my friend' and rather more the erstwhile German ally who sent Hitler a congratulatory telegram when Paris fell, and is now crying for help. A Co-belligerent rather than a 'natural' ally.

I might just be raving here, but however it cuts, to me it looks like any aid to France has to come out of either what went to the UK or Russia historically, else the US has to go short/produce more.

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#43 Ken Estes

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Posted 15 August 2009 - 1134 AM

There is no US LL going to the USSR in June 1940. None to France either, which is paying with cash, gold credits. Lend Lease is March 1941! [DDs for bases was in 1940]. Congress debated LL two months before passing. Might have been much closer without the Fall of France taking FR out of the war.

The best colonial units had already been sent to France, such as the Moroccan Divs, and had been caught up in the Debacle.

The merchant shipping had left the Atlantic ports in June, under the well-directed French Navy efforts, but coordinating an evacuation of troops in So France has already been noted as difficult, owing to the few good ports. The French Army, streaming south, under pursuit, would not have been an easy organization to evacuate, except for individuals in Marseilles, Toulon. The Luftwaffe had no difficulty in displacing forward as territory was gained, to my knowledge, during WWII.

Spain had yet to make her move in WWII; Franco was closest in the fall of 1940 to joining the Axis, but Hitler would not reward him then with French colonial territory.

There is little infrastructure in 1940 French colonies. Algeria was best off, because of its non-colonial position in the French system. Maintaining the French Navy in fighting trim would not be easy. Ditto the air force and army. UK shipyards are not free to to addl work, and USA yards are not available to a belligerant until Dec41.

There is no reason why Libya would be an easy victory for the French, even if the Western Desert Force managed to show up from the east. For the Germans to not reinforce Italy once France decides to continue the war from No Afr seems fatuous. The BoB likely would be delayed, greatly strengthening the Luftwaffe in 1940!

We have covered much of this before. These and many other problems make it unlikely Fr would remain in the war imn June40.
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#44 zraver

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Posted 16 August 2009 - 0415 AM

I really need to read that book.

IMHO one real potential outcome of France fighting on in WWII would be to extend the war in Europe by 8-12 months.

France has to absorb a major share of US LL that in OTL went to Russia. If nothing else changes, like Barbarossa being set back, PH being called off etc, this can only be bad for the Russians. AFAIK this would have more impact on their offensive capability than their defensive performance, losing all those trucks, food, explosives, aluminum etc. Which means even if the Russians held along their OTL line, their counter offensives are not going to have anything like the same weight, which can only mean a more effective German resistance in the West.

The other angle is the French government should want to return to metropolitan France ASAP, which stacks Casablanca (or equivalent conference) heavily in favor of a 43 invasion.

So an early invasion, with less preperation, into stiffer opposition, with less grounding in land warfare (via the African campaigns), all adds up to a mess of bad news that I'm not sure the additional French Corps would compensate for.
shane


If France keeps fighting, then Japan has less reason to go to war since the oil embargo is not yet complete IIRC. This means Stalin has to keep troops in the East. If Hitler keeps to the RL timetable for the invasion of Russia with much the same strength then Moscow might easily fall. This will cut the major Soviet rail nexus. The German transport situation in the East will still be wrecked in 42, but the Soviets might not be able to achieve the type of success they did at Stalingrad, especially if they use more troops for a variant of Operation Mars to retake Moscow to reconnect The USSR opposite the invader.

In the west, might Germany get more serious about an Atlantic Wall with hundreds of thousands of French troops sitting in North Africa eating American food and armed with armaments from American factories? Once again, if Italy stays out or loses her NA possessions Hitler has some long term problems to deal with.

A wild card issue- if Italy stays pout and thus the med is effectively allied territory what does Turkey do? If she jumps in on the side of the allies she can grant the RN and FN passage into the Black Sea and this poses a huge problem for the Germans if with allied help the USSR holds the Crimea.
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#45 Argus

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Posted 16 August 2009 - 0714 AM

Turkey would be daft to do any damn thing beyond her historical stance. Ankara's attitude was a wish that the last Russian soldier fall dead on the last German soldier - and I can't see much that would change that. :)

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#46 Ken Estes

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Posted 16 August 2009 - 1148 AM

If France keeps fighting, then Japan has less reason to go to war since the oil embargo is not yet complete IIRC. This means Stalin has to keep troops in the East. If Hitler keeps to the RL timetable for the invasion of Russia with much the same strength then Moscow might easily fall. This will cut the major Soviet rail nexus. The German transport situation in the East will still be wrecked in 42, but the Soviets might not be able to achieve the type of success they did at Stalingrad, especially if they use more troops for a variant of Operation Mars to retake Moscow to reconnect The USSR opposite the invader.

In the west, might Germany get more serious about an Atlantic Wall with hundreds of thousands of French troops sitting in North Africa eating American food and armed with armaments from American factories? Once again, if Italy stays out or loses her NA possessions Hitler has some long term problems to deal with.

A wild card issue- if Italy stays pout and thus the med is effectively allied territory what does Turkey do? If she jumps in on the side of the allies she can grant the RN and FN passage into the Black Sea and this poses a huge problem for the Germans if with allied help the USSR holds the Crimea.

That's a bit contradictory. It basically hinges on the Russo-German War breaking out, and when. Then Japan has an opportunity [gainsay a need] to strike the European colonies, before a general European peace would erase the moment. The US oil embargo by itself meant less than European weakness in the JA decision for war.

Already noted that Italy is in the war at the time Reynaud considers the future; they had come to the aid of the winner and a decision by France to keep up the fight from overseas would change little; Italy would still occupy Nice and the Savoie regions.

Forget about hundreds of thousands of French troops stuffed with US supplies. Did not happen in RL with the Army of No Africa that was the basis of the 1943-45 French Army. It remained impoverished through the war.
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#47 harryRIEDL

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Posted 16 August 2009 - 1304 PM

Wondering what would France postion be amoung the western Allies as in IRL all the nations troops would had lost their nations were junior parterners compared with the Big three. French would be more powerful amoung the allies but would that translated into the big 4 or the Big 3 1/2. It would also effect the politics of the allies with a stronger france with posssibly more aid to Russia (as France was pro Russian than UK and USA).

What kind of war industry was their in North Africa for the French to reqiuipe with because they would be building from a Dunkirk like loss of equipment and the French Mil would be wanting to prove its indpendence with at least a higher proportion of their own equipment.

In regards for ship space is their any space in Gib for placing part of the french fleet.

slightly related I saw a book released about the fighting between the vichy french and the UK http://www.amazon.co...-...&pf_rd_i=65
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#48 swerve

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Posted 16 August 2009 - 1409 PM

If France keeps fighting, then Japan has less reason to go to war since the oil embargo is not yet complete IIRC. ...
In the west, might Germany get more serious about an Atlantic Wall with hundreds of thousands of French troops sitting in North Africa eating American food and armed with armaments from American factories? Once again, if Italy stays out or loses her NA possessions Hitler has some long term problems to deal with.

A wild card issue- if Italy stays pout and thus the med is effectively allied territory what does Turkey do? If she jumps in on the side of the allies she can grant the RN and FN passage into the Black Sea and this poses a huge problem for the Germans if with allied help the USSR holds the Crimea.

1. Why do you say this? I don't see it making any difference to the oil embargo. The biggest difference would be that French Indo-China would be Allied territory, & Japan couldn't seize it in 1941 with impunity. This would make Japanese action against Thailand (& hence Burma), Malaya, Sarawak & Sabah (& hence the Netherlands East Indies) far more difficult.

2. Germany would certainly have reason to fear action by Britain & France in the Mediterranean, but I don't see there being any incentive to build an Atlantic Wall earlier than in reality. Britain lacked the strength to invade France, even with the French fleet & colonial armies. The Atlantic Wall only became justifiable when the USA entered the war.

3. Italy joined the war on June 10th. The French government deciding to make a fighting withdrawal, to get as much as possible away & continue the fight from overseas, would have happened after that - so why would Italy stay out? It was already in.

4. So, Italy is in - and Turkey is still vulnerable to German land attack. German victory is still possible. Why would Turkey do anything different? The Turks wouldn't want to spend a single life or lira to help Russia unless it was undoubtedly to their advantage, & there would be nothing to convince them that it was, any more than there was in reality.
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#49 swerve

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Posted 16 August 2009 - 1423 PM

... It would also effect the politics of the allies with a stronger france with posssibly more aid to Russia (as France was pro Russian than UK and USA).

What kind of war industry was their in North Africa for the French to reqiuipe with because they would be building from a Dunkirk like loss of equipment and the French Mil would be wanting to prove its indpendence with at least a higher proportion of their own equipment.

In regards for ship space is their any space in Gib for placing part of the french fleet

I don't think France was pro-Russia in 1940. France was very pro-Poland (& therefore inclined to see the USSR in a very bad light after 1939), & had participated in the Intervention War against the Bolsheviks in 1918-21.

There was bugger-all industry in North Africa. Maybe they could have got some uniforms made there, & some minor ship repairs. The French would have re-equipped with US-made weapons. Enough were already on order, many of them already paid for, to have re-equipped a fair proportion of the troops & airmen who could have got out. The Yanks were making French-designed weapons to French order, as well as US-designed weapons.

The MN didn't need port space: it had plenty in North Africa. It may have needed better repair facilities than existed there, though.
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#50 harryRIEDL

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Posted 16 August 2009 - 1757 PM

I don't think France was pro-Russia in 1940. France was very pro-Poland (& therefore inclined to see the USSR in a very bad light after 1939), & had participated in the Intervention War against the Bolsheviks in 1918-21.

There was bugger-all industry in North Africa. Maybe they could have got some uniforms made there, & some minor ship repairs. The French would have re-equipped with US-made weapons. Enough were already on order, many of them already paid for, to have re-equipped a fair proportion of the troops & airmen who could have got out. The Yanks were making French-designed weapons to French order, as well as US-designed weapons.

The MN didn't need port space: it had plenty in North Africa. It may have needed better repair facilities than existed there, though.

Im just thinking Blum goverment and French left were know have strong soveit sympathy.
How much Repair facialities could RN scarifice for mantianing the MN, could any parts of North Africa repair escorts which would be the priority especliy with the increace in US imports to be convoyed.
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#51 swerve

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Posted 16 August 2009 - 1907 PM

Im just thinking Blum goverment and French left were know have strong soveit sympathy. How much Repair facialities could RN scarifice for mantianing the MN, could any parts of North Africa repair escorts which would be the priority especliy with the increace in US imports to be convoyed.

The Blum government was only in power from 1936 to 1937.

I don't think the increase in imports from the USA would be that great. Most imports were food & raw materials, not weapons. A hundred thousand extra Frenchmen in N. Africa wouldn't mean a great increase in food imports. It might have been possible to feed them from local resources: apart from the 1937 famine in parts of Algeria, IIRC French North Africa fed itself, & the settlers produced food & wine for export to metropolitan France. There would have been no difference in raw material traffic. With the possibility of routing some shipping through the Mediterranean, if Libya was taken, coasting to Suez, & without the heavy losses on convoys to Malta & those convoys to Egypt which went via the Med, shipping & escort needs might have been reduced by more than was needed for shipping arms to the French. BTW, some of the weapons intended for the French in 1940 were actually shipped over, & delivered to the UK, but IIRC most were of little use to us. Wrong calibres, etc.

BTW, if outstanding orders had been completed & delivered to North Africa, the French forces there would have had 465 P-36 by early 1941, plus whatever was already based there & whatever had escaped from France.

I'm afraid I don't know what repair facilities there were at Mers-el-Kebir, Oran, etc. Does anyone here? If so, please let us know.
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#52 Ken Estes

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Posted 16 August 2009 - 2048 PM

Wondering what would France postion be amoung the western Allies as in IRL all the nations troops would had lost their nations were junior parterners compared with the Big three. French would be more powerful amoung the allies but would that translated into the big 4 or the Big 3 1/2. It would also effect the politics of the allies with a stronger france with posssibly more aid to Russia (as France was pro Russian than UK and USA).

What kind of war industry was their in North Africa for the French to reqiuipe with because they would be building from a Dunkirk like loss of equipment and the French Mil would be wanting to prove its indpendence with at least a higher proportion of their own equipment.

In regards for ship space is their any space in Gib for placing part of the french fleet.

Likely no change.

Algeria produced wine and dates. War industry = 0

Gibraltar was likely filled by Force H, but frequently swelled with convoys, Torch, Husky forces. Infrastructure was 1 graving dock, rated at 50,000t. All becomes irrelevant when Spain enters WWII and the German operation takes place.
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#53 Ken Estes

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Posted 16 August 2009 - 2110 PM

....
I'm afraid I don't know what repair facilities there were at Mers-el-Kebir, Oran, etc. Does anyone here? If so, please let us know.

Bizerte has a large drydock capable of all ships in 1914, plus a smaller one for DDs. Unfortunately, Jane's stopped reporting these things soon after. Mers-el-Kebir was pre-war effort intended as a fleet anchorage only, so maybe Algiers, Oran, Casablanca had a drydock?
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#54 swerve

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Posted 17 August 2009 - 0616 AM

All becomes irrelevant when Spain enters WWII and the German operation takes place.

You think that France fighting on from overseas would provoke Hitler into giving Franco no choice, or even invading Spain?

I don't think that Franco would change his mind unless forced to do so. For him, the equation is no better, & probably worse. Spains need for trans-Atlantic imports remains the same, the risk to the Canaries, Fernando Po etc is increased, & Spanish Morocco, the Spanish Sahara, & Rio Muni come into play for the first time. Plus the French fleet & the remnants of the AdlA (still more powerful than his own air force) within easy reach of his coasts.

Your comment does raise an interesting possibility. Faced with a hostile French government in Algiers (NB. - legally part of France proper, not a colony), would Hitler have decided to try to finish it off? This could have meant a much larger, & earlier, Libyan operation, a seaborne invasion from Italy (unlikely, IMO), and forcing Spain into the war to seize Gibraltar & use Spanish Morocco as a base for the invasion of French North Africa. What think ye all? Likely? If so, how would it go?

Edited by swerve, 17 August 2009 - 0659 AM.

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#55 swerve

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Posted 17 August 2009 - 0647 AM

Let's try to sum up the pros & cons of France fighting on.

The Germans have to occupy all of France. There is no compliant French administration with a claim to legitimacy keeping the French in order, but a legitimate French government in Algiers (I can't imagine it setting up anywhere else), exhorting the French not to co-operate with the occupiers. More German (& Italian, no doubt) troops & administrators are needed, & French industry is likely to produce less for the German war effort.

French overseas territories are all on the side of the Allies. In general, this makes life easier for the Commonwealth: for example, aircraft can fly between the UK & S. Africa more easily, the Germans have no easy route to meddle in Iraq, as they did in OTL, & SE Asia is more difficult for Japan to invade. More bases are available for anti-submarine operations, no troops have to be tasked with watching Vichy garrisons, & no operations to seize Vichy-controlled territories are needed.

In the Mediterranean, the situation of the Italians in Libya is far more vulnerable, with Allied forces on both sides, & a much stronger Allied threat to their supply lines. It becomes feasible for the Allies to seize Pantelleria & the Pelagie islands. The French land & air forces in North Africa would have been a useful addition to the Allied strength, with the addition of whatever could be got out of France, & with some re-armament with US-made weapons & equipment. The French fleet was a very significant addition to Allied strength.

The Mediterranean becomes much safer for Allied shipping, making it feasible (particularly if Libya is seized quickly) to use it as a transport route. This is important: shorter sea routes means that the same can be done with fewer ships & less fuel, or more done with the same resources.

On the minus side, a rapid conquest of Libya by a joint British-French operation would have deprived the Commonwealth forces of valuable experience fighting the Wehrmacht. If they're not committed to other operations, e.g. in Spain, or supporting the Italians against the Allies, the German armoured forces & aircraft sent to North Africa become available for use against the USSR, which could make a difference to the success of Barbarossa. If the presence of hostile forces just across the sea in Tunisia discourages Mussolini from his Greek adventure, the German invasion of Greece may not happen, again possibly aiding Barbarossa.

Can anyone suggest any other negatives?
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#56 Ken Estes

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Posted 17 August 2009 - 1153 AM

You think that France fighting on from overseas would provoke Hitler into giving Franco no choice, or even invading Spain?

I don't think that Franco would change his mind unless forced to do so. For him, the equation is no better, & probably worse. Spains need for trans-Atlantic imports remains the same, the risk to the Canaries, Fernando Po etc is increased, & Spanish Morocco, the Spanish Sahara, & Rio Muni come into play for the first time. Plus the French fleet & the remnants of the AdlA (still more powerful than his own air force) within easy reach of his coasts.

Your comment does raise an interesting possibility. Faced with a hostile French government in Algiers (NB. - legally part of France proper, not a colony), would Hitler have decided to try to finish it off? This could have meant a much larger, & earlier, Libyan operation, a seaborne invasion from Italy (unlikely, IMO), and forcing Spain into the war to seize Gibraltar & use Spanish Morocco as a base for the invasion of French North Africa. What think ye all? Likely? If so, how would it go?


I had mentioned at the top of the page that Franco was closest to entering WWII in late 40 in real life, but Hitler would not reward him with French colonial territory, or match F's impossible demand for weapons. Given a France still fighting from overseas and no Vichy regime to placate, the gift of colonies to Spain becomes more likely. Since Germany was still exporting 100s of arty pieces, heavy AA to Brazil, etc., some arms could go to Spain as well. I'd make it 50-50 at that point.

Spain has 15-in CD at almost all of her naval and commercial ports, backed up by 6-in secondary and 4" AAA. The Sp Air Force, like the Italian is much more combat experienced than that of France. The Hurri and Spit pilots defending Malta got more than their fill of fighting Macchi and even the CR's and G50s.

I continue to believe that Libya will not roll over for the disjointed Fr-Br forces in 1940. With the IT on the defensive, it is the Allies with the difficult logistics burden, and the offensive value of the French Armees de Terre / Aire have yet to be demonstrated. If the Western Desert Force shows up, it might be arrested, so out of fuel it might be! Would the Brits reinforce Egypt after Dunkirk as in reality? Would the Germans conceivably fail to pursue the French and knock them out of the war, reinforcing Libya at the same time? Greece, Crete, Malta fall to a German Army not at all bothered by preps for Russia.

If Spain comes in, the Straits are closed, because of the CD of Algeciras and Ceuta, not to mention the air power, greatly augmented by the Luftwaffe. The vulnerability of the Canarias Is is clear, but the expedition to take them [planned in RL] would be costly and pose no strategic gain. The value of Sahara, Ifni and Sp Guiana can be measured with a cup of sand.

In all, the continuation of France in the war means that Hitler has to opt for the Mediterranean Strategy that many writers have posited was his best chance for WWII; closing the Middle Sea and defeating the British at a vital nexus of the Empire. The BoB and Barbarossa come later, if at all, and the sequential value of finishing the Med theater before embarking on more dangerous ventures such as SeeLoewe and Barbarossa would have paid off well for the Axis.
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#57 Ken Estes

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Posted 17 August 2009 - 1200 PM

Let's try to sum up the pros & cons of France fighting on.

The Germans have to occupy all of France. There is no compliant French administration with a claim to legitimacy keeping the French in order, but a legitimate French government in Algiers (I can't imagine it setting up anywhere else), exhorting the French not to co-operate with the occupiers. More German (& Italian, no doubt) troops & administrators are needed, & French industry is likely to produce less for the German war effort.
....

Posed no problem for Germany in the cases of Norway, Belgium and Neth, all of which had govt/forces [limited] in exile. The occupation of French naval and air bases would have had to proceed anyway, bringing the situation of Nov42 in June40. The Paris Collaborationist parties would have been just as eager to work with the Germans, without the distraction of the Vichy zone to restrict their activities.
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#58 binder001

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Posted 17 August 2009 - 1233 PM

Question: in this scenario the French have opted to fight on. As well as French North Africa, what about the Atlantic ports? If they are not ceded to the Germans without a fight the Kriegsmarine won't have the immediate access to operating bases that they got in the OTL. I realize that all of them could be taken, but the Wehrmacht might have had to take them one-by-one with the attendant seiges or city combat. There is Cherbourg, Brest, St. Nazaire, Boulogne (sp?) and any others? Even one of these ports in French hands would be a thorn in the side of the Germans. Again, I don't think they could hold forever but having to fight for them would have cost the Germans resources and men, especially if a couple really gave them a good fight. At least the Germans won't move right in to fully functioning naval facilities.

On the other hand, the British might have been drwn in to the defense of the coast, leading to transfer of Fighter Command assets and/or Royal Navy support.

Could the ports have held for a while? Might the Germans have opted for the solution used by the US Army in 1944 and just contained them?
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#59 Ken Estes

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Posted 17 August 2009 - 1325 PM

Question: in this scenario the French have opted to fight on. As well as French North Africa, what about the Atlantic ports? If they are not ceded to the Germans without a fight the Kriegsmarine won't have the immediate access to operating bases that they got in the OTL. I realize that all of them could be taken, but the Wehrmacht might have had to take them one-by-one with the attendant seiges or city combat. There is Cherbourg, Brest, St. Nazaire, Boulogne (sp?) and any others? Even one of these ports in French hands would be a thorn in the side of the Germans. Again, I don't think they could hold forever but having to fight for them would have cost the Germans resources and men, especially if a couple really gave them a good fight. At least the Germans won't move right in to fully functioning naval facilities.

On the other hand, the British might have been drwn in to the defense of the coast, leading to transfer of Fighter Command assets and/or Royal Navy support.

Could the ports have held for a while? Might the Germans have opted for the solution used by the US Army in 1944 and just contained them?

They were not ceded without a fight. The 'fight' was the Somme Battle, phase II of the campaign beginning 5 June. It is lost and by 10 June, the Fr Govt is at Bordeaux and Paris is declared an open city. The best units were ground up by Dunkirk, the remainder defeated in less than a week - of hard fighting. Even if those ports were fortified for all-round defense [doubtful except for Brest], the troops of the garrisons most likely had been pulled for the decisive front. The UK 1st Arm Div (-) barely escapes home through Cherbourg, thanks to Fr resistance at the base of the Cotetin Peninsula. This is all very different than the designations and construction of fortified ports as fortresses in the Atlantic Wall by the Wehrmacht in 1942-44.

In any case, such was not the moment that the Brits would have sent Fighter Command across the Channel!
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#60 swerve

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Posted 17 August 2009 - 1654 PM

Could the ports have held for a while? Might the Germans have opted for the solution used by the US Army in 1944 and just contained them?

They might have held out slightly longer. The government announcing it would fight on from overseas, & asking defenders to hold out to enable other troops to get away to carry on the war would have provided a motive to fight which in OTL went away for most French troops with the surrender. But realistically, they could only have held long enough to enable a little more to be evacuated (& I do mean a little), & some demolition to be done. The UK would, as Ken says, not have put any more in to try to hold them. French determination to fight on would have been seen solely as an opportunity to rescue more of both the British & French forces. The game was up in France, & everyone knew it.
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