April 1940

Stories from A Blunted Sickle
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Pdf27
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April 1940

Post by Pdf27 »

Last update from the Phony War. In the next instalment the butterflies will start flapping away.

15th April 1940
Around 500 tonnes of fairly heavy anonymous wooden crates arrive in Vlissingen on a Dutch coastal steamer from Harwich, marked in English as “Fragile” and “Protect from Fire”. They are stored in a warehouse rented by the Dutch navy within the port.

22nd April 1940
The Dutch redeployment is complete, spurred on by the German invasion of Norway. While it is hoped that the Germans will leave them alone like in the last war, few in the General Staff have any confidence in this. Only a handful of troops (roughly 5 battalions in total) are left outside the Water Line. Roughly half of the troops withdrawn have been used to further reinforce the Water Line, while the rest are distributed within Fortress Holland as reserves. The Light Division is held as a formed unit around Leiden as a quick reaction force to any German breakthrough.
The troops deployed outside the Water Line are mostly manning pillboxes, usually around bridges. In the event of a German invasion, all bridges outside Fortress Holland are to be immediately destroyed. Those bridges considered particularly vulnerable to seizure (which has been a bigger concern recently in the Dutch Army after the reports of German troops hidden in merchant ships or the German Embassy in Norway suddenly emerging and taking part in the fighting) are subject to additional precautions, such as overnight barricades and multiple independent ways of demolishing the bridge. The troops have written orders that in the event of a German attack they are to destroy the bridge they are responsible for, resist the Germans for as long as seems practical to them then withdraw or surrender. The orders make very clear that the high command do not think it possible to stop the Germans at their position, but any delay will be valuable in helping stop them elsewhere.
War is less costly than servitude. The choice is always between Verdun and Dachau. - Jean Dutourd
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jemhouston
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Re: April 1940

Post by jemhouston »

Sensible orders
Lordroel
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Re: April 1940

Post by Lordroel »

jemhouston wrote: Fri Nov 25, 2022 2:19 pm Sensible orders
But in actual combat, even sensible orders do not stand the test of a real war.
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jemhouston
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Re: April 1940

Post by jemhouston »

Lordroel wrote: Fri Nov 25, 2022 2:58 pm
jemhouston wrote: Fri Nov 25, 2022 2:19 pm Sensible orders
But in actual combat, even sensible orders do not stand the test of a real war.
Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face.
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Re: April 1940

Post by Lordroel »

jemhouston wrote: Fri Nov 25, 2022 8:08 pm
Lordroel wrote: Fri Nov 25, 2022 2:58 pm
jemhouston wrote: Fri Nov 25, 2022 2:19 pm Sensible orders
But in actual combat, even sensible orders do not stand the test of a real war.
Everyone has a plan until they get punched in the face.
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Pdf27
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Re: April 1940

Post by Pdf27 »

Lordroel wrote: Fri Nov 25, 2022 2:58 pm
jemhouston wrote: Fri Nov 25, 2022 2:19 pm Sensible orders
But in actual combat, even sensible orders do not stand the test of a real war.
It's the first major butterfly - essentially in OTL the Dutch were expecting the French to arrive at the Moerdijk bridges within a couple of days, long before the Germans could get there. This would enable them to hold a line much further forward (the Grebbeline and Peel-Raamline), which is obviously way better for the Netherlands than only being able to hold the Waterline.
With the notification that the French aren't coming in the event of war, the logic for this changes. The Peel-Raamline in particular is problematic - the southern flank is hanging in the air if the Belgians can't hold, and without immediate French support in the area that's pretty unlikely. Hence the shift in priorities to the pre-1939 plan which emphasises the Waterline - the forward lines are now there as a delaying force and to keep out weaker German forces.

Overall it's a lower risk/lower reward strategy for the Dutch: they're definitely going to hang on to much less of their own country in the event of an invasion, but it's less likely to go horribly wrong. Since they aren't getting any French support (and aren't currently belligerents, remember, so can't really ask for it), scaling back their plans relative to OTL is pretty much required.
War is less costly than servitude. The choice is always between Verdun and Dachau. - Jean Dutourd
Simon Darkshade
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Re: April 1940

Post by Simon Darkshade »

Furthermore, by being a lower risk strategy, it has more chance of surviving contact with the enemy.

Why?

The story is already written. We know that the Dutch Water Line defence essentially works and that the Allies roll in during the 1941 great offensive that takes them to the Oder.

What then is the purpose of positing cautionary caveat comments clucking about cliches?
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Pdf27
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Re: April 1940

Post by Pdf27 »

Simon Darkshade wrote: Sat Nov 26, 2022 2:04 amThe story is already written. We know that the Dutch Water Line defence essentially works and that the Allies roll in during the 1941 great offensive that takes them to the Oder.

What then is the purpose of positing cautionary caveat comments clucking about cliches?
To be fair, quite a lot of people on here haven't read it on AH.com.
War is less costly than servitude. The choice is always between Verdun and Dachau. - Jean Dutourd
Simon Darkshade
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Re: April 1940

Post by Simon Darkshade »

Quite true. I’m pretty sure that Lordroel is not in that boat and I recall a similar comment by him on the previous board on the length/nature of the war. Sometimes a moment of thought to activate the memory before posting can answer a question or obviate the need for a comment.

Shifting slightly, I think that the Moltke quote actually works for Blunted Sickle, but in the opposite direction, as it were: the German war plan fell to pieces once their initial offensive failed.
That is obviously an oversimplification of the process of shifting the attack for Paris; getting cut off; relief failing; and then the build up of forces and weapons leading to Allied victory a la Colossal Cracks.

One thing I do particularly like about your work here is its exploration of a British Army in WW2 that follows its original expansion/mobilisation plan towards the 55 division figure.
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