22nd May 1940

Stories from A Blunted Sickle
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Pdf27
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22nd May 1940

Post by Pdf27 »

At dawn, Reynaud sends an aircraft to collect General Giraud from 7th Army, with orders to take over command of 5th Army and attack immediately. While this will take somewhat longer than hoped due to the need to fly an extended route to avoid German fighters, Giraud will be in command of 5th Army by late afternoon and hopes to be able to attack in the morning. Sciard will in turn take over 7th Army.

Reynaud then telephones Churchill to discuss the situation. While deeply disturbed by what he describes as Bonnet and Chautemps' “treason”, he agrees with Churchill's comment that “The Tortoise has protruded his head very far from his shell. It is now up to us to chop it off for him”. He also formally asks Churchill for the RAF to take over the air defence of Belgium and Northern France, to enable the heavily weakened Armée de l'Air to recover and concentrate its strength on the battle for Paris. Churchill agrees to this in principle, subject to discussion with the Air Staff, but warns that it will not be possible for him to do anything for several days.

At dawn, II (British) Corps and the French Cavalry Corps resume their attack to the south. German resistance is getting increasingly desperate as they realise the situation that they're in, but the British and French troops have the bit between their teeth as they finally understand the magnitude of the defeat they may be able to inflict on the Germans. They continue their advance despite what are now extremely heavy casualties, and in late afternoon troops from 3e Division Légère Mécanique make contact with 5th Army around the village of La Veuve. By dusk (when the advance has to stop due to the risk of attacking their own men in the dark), the gap between the two groups of German forces has been extended to 5km. This halt allows many of the German troops trapped in a narrow salient between the two armies to withdraw, and by the next morning this gap between the two sets of German forces will have extended to 25km.

Meanwhile, OKH issues orders for Panzergruppe Kleist to withdraw from “wherever they have wandered off to” to Chateau Thierry in preparation to launch an attack towards Reims and decisively shatter the French front again. This poses major problems for the Panzer troops, since the majority of them are 100km from this point and have empty petrol tanks after their dash to take Paris. Attempts to refuel at civilian petrol stations have mixed results – while the first Panzers to try it manage well, there is a sudden outbreak of arson against filling stations during the day after the radio announces that the German forces in Paris are encircled, and asks the citizens to sabotage anything of military value. Kleist is only able to scrounge up enough fuel to send XIX and XXXXI corps back, and that only by draining the tanks of all his other vehicles. This means the majority of his forces are now immobilised around Paris, until such time as the supply routes are restored.

In Tours, Léon Blum makes a speech to the chamber of deputies warning that the witch-hunt against communists has distracted attention from the danger of “fascists and defeatists within”. In reply Reynaud promises that those PCF deputies willing to condemn the Soviet invasion of Poland and state their support for the war against Germany will be allowed to resume their seats, either as independents or as members of an existing party. He also announces bans on several right-wing newspapers, and indicates that those ordinary members of the PCF/GPOF who are willing to meet the same requirements as the deputies will have the restrictions on them lifted. Over the next few days this will result in something of a witch-hunt against those on the far right of French politics, although there is booing in the chamber when one SIFO deputy accuses Marshal Petain of being behind this conspiracy – it is clear that some figures in French public life are above suspicion.
Reynaud then goes on to state that the present disaster in Paris is in large part due to a failure of all French politicians, including himself, to manage a repeat of the Union Sacrée of 1914. He accordingly invites Daladier and Blum to discuss privately how this can be achieved.
Last edited by Pdf27 on Sun Apr 02, 2023 5:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.
War is less costly than servitude. The choice is always between Verdun and Dachau. - Jean Dutourd
Belushi TD
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Re: 22nd May 1942

Post by Belushi TD »

I did not remember that the Germans had trouble after the first day or so refueling from civilian gas stations. It makes sense, of course, for the French to burn all the petrol they can get a match near, inside the pocket. Sending two corps back is apparently, the best he can do, and parts of those two corps might be able to escape, but unless the French and English REALLY screw the pooch, the forces in Paris are done, and should be allowed to wither on the vine. Keep enough forces around them to pen them in place, and use the rest of the forces to push the Germans back to Germany, further isolating the pocket.

BTW, is this supposed to be 22 May 1942?

Thanks for reposting this. I really appreciate it.

Belushi TD
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Pdf27
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Re: 22nd May 1940

Post by Pdf27 »

Belushi TD wrote: Sun Apr 02, 2023 3:13 pmI did not remember that the Germans had trouble after the first day or so refueling from civilian gas stations. It makes sense, of course, for the French to burn all the petrol they can get a match near.
It's a long time since I wrote this (nearly a decade) but I'm pretty sure that came from one of my reference books - both the Germans using civilian petrol stations and the fact that they were very vulnerable infrastructure that tended to be difficult to capture intact.
Belushi TD wrote: Sun Apr 02, 2023 3:13 pmBTW, is this supposed to be 22 May 1942?
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War is less costly than servitude. The choice is always between Verdun and Dachau. - Jean Dutourd
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