The Battle of Sedan

Guderian flew to Kleist's headquarters on May 12th, 1940, at six o'clock, at Elby, in his Fieseler Storch. The Panzer Leader held the right to be pleased with himself, as he had just traversed the once thought impenetrable Ardennes, with the largest concentration of armor the world had seen yet. In just two days, his XIX Corps had reached the Meuse River, opposite Sedan, the site of the gravest French defeat during the Franco-Prussian War, and were poised to once again fulfill this victory.

At the meeting, Kleist, thrilled by the recent victories, directed Guderian to strike while the iron was hot, the following day at 1500, in order to catch the French defenders totally off guard. Guderian was outraged.  After two days of relentless drive, his 2nd Panzer Division (1/3 of his corps) had not yet reached the Meuse. Guderian was skeptical that an attack without the 2nd Panzer Division would succeed, attempting to gain more time for his offensive. Nonetheless, Kleist pushed for the attack date and Guderian was forced to agree, after Kleist cut him short.

To the bewilderment of the XIX Corps' leader, Kleist had also asked the Luftwaffe commander in the sector, General Loerzer, to keep the attack to one short, but heavy, bombardment. Guderian was shocked, and, in his words, "the whole attack was placed in jeopardy." In fact, Guderian had asked Loerzer to keep up a perpetual bombardment to keep the French's head low, allowing an easy crossing of the Meuse, but, of course, Kleist thought better.

OKW (German High Command) and OKH (German Army High Command) had originally appointed Kleist to Panzergruppe command level not only because he was one of the quieter generals when it came time to argue with his superiors, but because this characteristic masked his personality to ignore and even argue his way to his subordinates. As it became known later in France, Kleist was in extreme paranoia when it came to French abilities and counter attack, which played a vital role in the final push to Dunkirk weeks later. In fact, he had even ordered Guderian to divert the 2nd Panzer Division to counter a supposed French thrust to his flank, which, of course, never materialized. Lucky for the Germans, it was also an order which was quickly ignored as Guderian strove to break through to the Meuse defenses.

Guderian, in turn, was a relatively young general who was the first advocate of armored warfare and deep flanking attacks, a primordial blitzkrieg, which he would perfect in his subsequent studies and campaigns of war. In the Polish campaign, Fall Weiss, who overran much of Northern Poland and her overstretched armies, reaching Brest-Litovsk in just a few weeks (although the actual attack into the city would take a bit longer). He was known infamously for his tactical ideology of "striking with a fist", referring to large clumps of armor, and for his non-stop energetic attitude towards war, making him Germany's finest soldier. So well known for his push for speed, he was dubbed Schnelle Heinz, or "Hurrying Heinz", by his troops. Strangely, for his attack on Sedan, he desired more time to concentrate his forces, although for now he would have to do with whatever time he had.

Guderian planned accordingly. Using a three-pronged attack to pierce the French Sedan defenses, he wanted to crush all French resistance before they could reform their lines. The 1st Panzer Division, crossing at Glaire, a half a mile downstream from Sedan, would push towards the Marfeé Woods and then south, attacking a line running from Chaumont to Chéréry. On the left, the 10th Panzer Division would traverse the Meuse, two miles south of Sedan, and then occupy the nearby heights, eliminating much of the French artillery threat. If the 2nd Panzer Division arrived on time, it would strike across the Meuse on the 1st Panzer Division's right and either help occupy the heights south of the crossing or advance with the 1st Panzer Division, the latter being preferred by Guderian. 

The Panzer Leader was counting on Lieutenant Colonel Hermann Balck's 1st Rifle Regiment, four battalions of Lieutenant Colonel Graf von Schwerin's Gross Deutschland Regiment and his assault engineer companies to storm across the river, break through the rows of pillboxes and bunkers, and then hold their positions until a set of bridges were completed to allow the crossing of his Panzers.

Guderian placed most of the initial weight of success of this operation on these regiments, and the infantry had to be able to destroy French resistance and then hold against numerous French forces. Balck and von Scwerin had promised him this, and it was vital that they did so without fail. Once all his forces were well settled on the other side of the Meuse, Guderian designed an attack to pivot into the French rear, disrupting French communications and throwing most of the Meuse line into disorientation.

To counter this massive assault, the French placed General Huntziger's 2nd Army around the Sedan sector. Huntziger was an outspoken man who had never bet on a German attack, claiming that the Germans were so foolish to commit such an act of stupidity. In the French General Staff and in the Officer Corps, he was revered for his "genius", although, at Sedan, he would prove completely the opposite, which sadly enough was a factor for the entire French General Staff.

Generalissimo Gamelin, Commander and Chief of the entire French Army, ordered Sedan to be defended at all costs, but, defiant of this, Huntziger left the east bank of the city to be left virtually undefended due to purely strategic reasons. Huntziger, seemingly unaware of French moral, hoped to hold Guderian farther east, at the edge of the Ardennes, by a fairly reliable string of fortifications, but, to his despair, most of the French garrison would run at the sight of the Germans, far before the battle had even begun.

The Meuse River banks were another subject of concern for Huntziger. Their sharply rising banks on the east and lower banks on the right exposed his men to German gunfire, and, furthermore, a bend in the river north of Sedan, called the "Mushroom of Glaire", exposed his army on three sides. To counter the latter, Huntziger opted to withdraw from the peninsula, arguing that it would merely give the Germans a bridgehead, although the 55th Infantry Division would be kept at the base to protect from a German breakthrough.

More disappointedly was the fact that, although on paper the 2nd Army had a clear advantage over Guderian's XIX Corps, in reality, most of the army was made up of "B" divisions, or reserve divisions, which were poorly commanded by old and inexperienced officers. Discipline was terribly exemplified by the fact that on May 10th, 7,000 of 17,000 soldiers in the 71st were on sick leave. Only the 3rd North African Division seemed slightly fit to fight such a battle, but, with its weak flanks provided by the 55th and 71st Divisions, Huntziger could hope for little.

The 55th Infantry Division had only a quarter of its anti-tank guns, although the storage areas to the rear had around 520, enough for 10 divisions. The division was also short of the necessary anti-aircraft guns, an armament which would soon become more than essential. Although all these shortcomings only worsened the situation, the division did have double the normal amount of artillery guns and most of the corps' artillery. It was a "B" class division, and, inexplicably, most of the officers were World War I veterans trained to fight in trench warfare, not Blitzkrieg.

On top of this, Sedan's fortifications were deplorable. The easternmost defenses were unoccupied after the German emergence from the Ardennes, which left only the river defenses. Hence, the only true barrier to the XIX Corps was a line on the southern banks of the Meuse, but, moreover, these weren't even finished by May. Although Gamelin, upon hearing of this, ordered a series of blockhouses to be built along the river line to complement the defensive line, they also were never completed.

At 3:30 P.M., May 12th, Huntziger sent a telegram to General Goerges's headquarters requesting reinforcements after alarming reports of a German breakthrough through the forest. General Roton, filling in for Goerges (Goerges was to report to headquarters by car, a ghastly example of France's poor communication between generals), ordered the 3rd Armored Divisions and 3rd Motorize Division to reinforce the 2nd Army. Roton also sent up the crack 14th Infantry Division, stationed behind the Maginot Line, by rail to Sedan. But at 5:00 P.M., Huntziger sent a surprisingly illogical message stating that he felt the front was "calm" and that the reinforcements were not to be "rushed", thus meaning that Huntziger would not have the troops necessary to repel Guderian's XIX Corps.

The following day, the sky was clear and beautiful, making it perfect weather for aircraft. This peaceful setting soon transformed into Dante's inferno at 10:00 A.M. as 200 Stukas and 310 Dornier 17's, escorted by 200 fighters, blasted at the French river fortifications. For four (4) hours straight, wave upon wave and squadron upon squadron of Stukas and bombers hit French positions all along the line. French inside the bunkers were terrified and did exactly as the Germans predicted, ducked down into the bunker. The sounds of the Stuka became unbearable and the yells of the wounded, supplemented by the screams of the dead, forced men to weep.

The Stukas attacked in waves, releasing their armaments on the French bunkers and pillboxes. They were followed by the Dornier 17's, which bombed the already scarred defenses. As the Stukas rose and then returned, they poured hell into the French. It was a magnificently deadly sight, and, at the same time, grossly terrifying. To Guderian's astonishment, his original Luftwaffe plan had been followed, and, in a later conversation with Loerzer, the Luftwaffe general claimed that, "...too late. They would have muddled the air fleet. So I didn't pass them [Kleist's orders] on." This eventual turn of events was a major tactical advantage for Guderian, whose triumph remained in the hands of all his cards playing out well.

The worst was yet to come, and, with their heads down, the French wondered where their own air force was (at one time considered the best or only second to the Soviets). It was one of the more demoralizing aspects that not a single French fighter contested the bombardment for most of the day. Though Georges gave priority to Sedan for air support, General Bilotte, air commander of the sector, merely ignored the order. At 2:00 P.M., the air strikes gradually increased in ferocity and in momentum, until it hit its climax at around 3:00 P.M., with an all out attack by over 1,000 aircrafts. Then, at 4:00 P.M., the inferno ceased and the Meuse was covered with a thick blanket of smoke and dust. As it cleared, the figures of Germans already puncturing the bunkers could be seen.

As the Luftwaffe continued the assault, Schwerin's Gross Deutschland Regiment and Balck's 1st Infantry Regiment began their crossing of the Meuse.

Von Schwerin's first raft was chewed up as they attempted to go into the water. The second raft met the same fate, and not until a 37mm flak gun and two 75mm assault guns opened fire on the bunkers, covering the opposing side, were the French finally silenced. Although now both the artillery and Luftwaffe were hammering French areas of concentration, the going was still dangerous. Small arms fire still plagued Balck and his men, but, nonetheless, the regiment crossed and continued towards the bunkers.

At 4:50 A.M., Gross Deutschland's 2nd Battalion crossed the Meuse and spread into the village of Glaire, hunting for French defenders. Shocked French were flushed out with grenades and small arms, which developed into extremely bloody fighting. As the small conflict died down, the French with overstrained faces, filed into German hands with arms over their heads, while other French, under a sergeant, retreated south to the Frénois Line, a serried of crudely built blockhouses, working themselves for the next attack.

Lieutenant Courbiere's company quickly advanced towards his objective, Hill 247, just under two miles away, but were yielded by extremely accurate artillery fire from Torcy and Les Forges. Torcy was silenced by Gross Deutschland's 3rd Battalion, while Les Forges was occupied by the 1st Regiment, which had a considerably easier crossing than Gross Deutschland.

Balck's crossing was a peaceful stroll across the river compared to that of the Gross Deutschland Regiment. The bunkers across the river had been effectively silenced by the air attack and armored units on the German side of the river. Only a few French soldiers remained and most of them had ineffective weapons, and no artillery attack could be called in, since the telephone wires had been consequently cut by the bombardment. Thus Balck's crossing was virtually uncontested.

The French were incapable of contesting Balck, as their guns were destroyed, somehow silenced or clogged by dust while the defenders were too stunned to give effective resistance. Crossing the Meuse silently, Balck's soldiers leaped onto land and charged the French bunkers with grenades, small arms, flamethrowers and powder charges. Although a French sergeant had viewed the entire crossing, his machine gun was jammed and communication lines had been severed by the bombardment, eliminating the possibility of artillery to rain death upon Balck, a serious deficiency which had saved Guderian from total destruction. After eliminating the first line of bunkers, Balck immediately began to march towards the village of Frénois and the second line of bunkers.

On German appearance, most of the Frénois Line was evacuated, and the Germans found supplies ranging from food to soda pop, which was greedily taken by the German soldiers. But west of Frénois, at Château de Bellevue, spectacular French resistance held up the German attack. Led by Lieutenant Verron, two blockhouses blocked the main route south towards Bellevue. Verron, although lacking in infantry support as well as communications with each other, was able to hold the German advance for hours. At 6:00 P.M., several Stukas made a run at Verron's bunker, and blockhouse 103, which Verron occupied, was hit directly, mostly without effect. But then, a grenade destroyed the air vent and the blockhouse was forced to surrender after heavy hand-to-hand fighting. An hour later, blockhouse 104, the second obstacle, also fell to the Germans after using up 10,000 cartridges of ammunition and suffering 50% casualties.

Not willing to let such easy territory be re-occupied by the French, Balck pushed his weary regiment further and further until capturing Chéréry and the area near the St. Quentin farm, a mile and a half north of Bulson, creating an exposed neck that the French half-heartedly attempted to cut off.

The 10th Panzer Division only managed to cross the Meuse at 7:30 P.M., and, at that, only a few soldiers truly made it across. French bunkers were left mostly intact and managed to concentrate unusual accuracy on German rafts attempting to cross the river, destroying 48 rafts out of 50 trying to make it to the other side. Luckily for the Germans, two rafts did make it under the leadership of Sergeant Rubarth.

On the rafts, Rubarth and his men were able to cross the 60 yards of river past whizzing bullets and crashing rounds. The two rafts began to sink into the river, burdened with the heavy weight of the soldier's tools. With a quick sigh Rubarth said, "No digging for us, either we get through, or that's the end," telling his comrades to throw over digging and entrenching tools. The sergeant ordered his machine gunners to fire into the bunkers' slits and his soldiers did as ordered, placing the machinegun on the shoulders of their comrades to provide a stable base. As the rafts neared the western banks, the soldiers quickly set foot on land and continued to silence the bunkers. Hand-to-hand fighting was common, as was the sound of grenades, as Germans pumped the French out of the steadily weakened bunkers. From the opposite bank they could here "the sound of loud cheers from our comrades." But for Rubarth and his men it wasn't the end, for they continued into a swamp covering their thighs and moved to knock out another two bunkers, opening a gap in the primary French line. As more and more German troops made their way to Rubarth he was able to lead an attack into the second line and open yet another gap, while at the same time beating off French counter attacks. This outstanding action earned Rubarth the Iron Cross and a promotion to lieutenant.

The infantry of the Panzer Division were advancing up the east of the Marfeé Woods by midnight, spending the night knocking out machinegun nests and artillery batteries around their positions. Finally, with a last exhaustion, the German infantry made an effort to capture Thélonne, which was met with feeble resistance, using grenades to flush the French out. Although this "last effort" cost the Germans maybe up to 50% casualties, it never allowed the French the chance to counter attack. This would remain the difference between the quality of the French and the quality of the Germans for the entire war; the Germans were always ready to sacrifice for complete victory.

The last division to cross was the 2nd Panzer Division, which was only able to cross after artillery systematically destroyed the defending bunkers. The division's reconnaissance and motorcycle battalion had been the only elements able to get close to the river, and even theses were stopped cold in front of the village of Donchéry by French fire from Bellevue, Glaire and Villette. To combat this lull, the Germans brought up a group of Panzers to put some pressure on the French defenses and to allow a German breakthrough. It was effective, and, after intense fighting, the Germans were able to capture a railway embankment, but French flanking fire still poured into the German positions. Frantic efforts to shut down the French barrage failed when the summer sun made it almost impossible to accurately hit the French artillery emplacements. 

That May 14th, General Lafontaine seemed happy, but he had received false information on the German advances.  Instead, he had been told that the front was near stability, and that the Germans had either been fought to a standstill or repelled. He had believed that his 55th Division, originally thought ill prepared for this war, had checked the advance of the invading swine, far from the truth. His smug look was erased, however, when a wave of soldiers, terrified, swept upon the road in trucks or on foot. To Lafontaine, it became quite clear that most of his 55th Division was on the run. The results were deadly, for this unforeseen route would leave the German's route of advance unimpeded. He hysterically looked over his reports; he had made contact again with Corap's 53rd Infantry Division and Frénois was still not entirely in German hands.

With his officers, Lafontaine ran to block the rampage of French men, but the soldiers purely bypassed them and the flight continued until the soldiers reached Reims, a full 60 miles away. It was quite a catastrophic loss and it resulted into the ultimate defeat of the French at Sedan.

Gamelin finally received a report from Sedan, at 9:25 P.M. on May 13, where Huntziger alleged that only a "small slice has been bitten off south of Sedan," which was quite misleading since the Marfeé woods were as good as taken, and the 55th was no longer available for resistance.

At the Meuse, French artillery batteries started to empty its barrels, firing at the 16 ton bridge which was being built across from Gaulier. Fortunately, although the German engineers had only brought 70 meters of bridging material for that section, they had found a region just under 70 meters of length and had the French destroyed part of the bridge.  The Meuse would have been left without a bridge for days. The bridge was opened at 2:00 A.M. on May 14th.

Upstream, the 2nd Panzer Division engineers worked hard to build a bridge near Donchéry, but it was delayed by fairly accurate French artillery, opening at 4:00 A.M. on May 14, well after the first rafts had entered the water. Still, Guderian was quite pleased that at least some panzers were crossing the Meuse, and even telegrammed General Busch, of the 16th Army, about the success. Busch, who had once bet a bottle of champagne that Guderian would not be able to cross until after the 5th day, rapidly replied with gratefulness and with a bottle of champagne.

At the same time, while Busch and Guderian were celebrating, divisional German generals were worriedly concentrating anti aircraft guns around the extremely unprotected bridges. Nehring, Guderian's Chief of Staff, recognized the weakness of the bridges' defenses and its vitality to the operations around Sedan, not only as a crossing for tanks, but as a supplying vein to forces on the other side of the river.  General Billotte, also saw the grave importance of the bridges, and, on May 13th, he attempted to make sure that the Gaulier Bridge was destroyed. Billotte explained that the Sedan bridges must be destroyed, "as soon as possible," and then implied his desperate measures by saying, "Victory or defeat hangs on those bridges."

On May 14th, 170 French and RAF bombers sped towards the bridges towards the Sedan valley. Around the Gaulier Bridge, some 200 anti aircraft guns waited for them. The attack was unsuccessful, with German AA guns bringing down 50 of 170 bombers. More importantly, the bridge was yet intact. In one of those ironical moments of war, Guderian and Rundstedt approached each other on the bridge having a dry conversation, while in the center of the bombardment. Rundstedt, looking nervously around at the bombers attempting their suicidal task of taking out the bridges asked, "Is it always like this here?" Of course, Guderian's only reply was, "Yes, it was."

On May 14th, Lafontaine, the same man who had witnessed the rout of the 55th Infantry Division, was given command of the 7th and 4th Tank Battalions, supplemented by the 213th and 205th Infantry Regiments. General Gransard ordered an immediate counter attack on German positions on the Meuse towards Bulson, and then head on to the Meuse. Gransard structured the attack to take place at 3:00 P.M. May 13th, although certain "developments" would force this date to an even later start time.

At Chémery, General Lafontaine had retreated his staff further back after the retreat of his 55th division to an area with barely any communication systems, to the point that Lafontaine did not even know which troops were going to be available for his supposed counterattack.  He attempted to change this as he sent out three officers to three different locations to mark unit placements. Upon reaching their destinations, the officers found the 7th Tank Battalion completely swarmed with fleeing infantry from the 55th Division, all the while the first officer was supposed dead (or failed to return) while the third returned with the word of failure. Lafontaine then began a journey to meet Lieutenant Colonel Pierre Labarthe, commander of the 213th Infantry Regiment, who expressed his wishes for a complete opposite change of plans. Labarthe pleaded a stop to the attack but then Gransard's deputy chief of staff, Lieutenant Colonel Cachou, arrived with urgent orders to begin the counter attack which prompted Lafontaine to cut the colonel off and go on with the attack.  At dawn, on May 14th, Lafontaine's long awaited counter attack began with the 213th Infantry Regiment led by the 7th tank battalion from Chémery. The 205th Infantry Regiment, spearheaded by the 4th Tank Battalion, rolled out towards Bulson from Maisoncelle. German intelligence, from reconnaissance units, had warned Guderian of French columns moving towards the German pocket and the Panzer Leader hurriedly ordered all of his anti tank and tank units to reinforce his lines at Bulson. The tanks arrived just in time, right before Balck's men were to meet the attack head on.  Ten French tanks, grouped tightly together, were badly mauled by quick action Panzer commanders who managed to knock out 7 tanks while the other 3 were pulled out, yet abandoned moments after. By 9:00 A.M., 2 hours after the start, the attack for the 4th Tank Battalion had ended, which virtually meant the end for the 205th Infantry Division. The 4th, without proper coordination with the 7th tank battalion, lost over ¾ of its armor.
The 7th Tank Battalion, along with the 213th Infantry Battalion, also met similar results. German anti-tank companies kept up a steady rate of fire, even as their 37mm rounds simply "bounced" off the French armor. Some French tanks came in at 200 yards before being knocked out. Another group of tanks arrived from the south but to no vain as the 2nd Panzer Regiment arrived to aid its anti-tank comrades.
The 2nd Panzer Regiment quickly took advantage of French disorder and drove in Chémery hitting tense resistance, but, nonetheless, the village was cleared by 11:00 A.M. This timely arrival of the German armor had most probably saved the Germans from losing its territory across the Meuse, and, had the French attacked earlier, Balck and the Gross Deutschland Regiment would have been most likely overrun.

At 6:30, the commander of the 71st Infantry Division, General Baudet, received a telephone call telling him to form a defensive loop around Bulson in order to halt a German piercing in the area, but, ten minutes later he was informed that Bulson was already in German hands and that Lafontaine, the general who had lost control of the 55th Division, had evacuated his headquarters. Thus, Baudet also decided to move his command post as well, seven miles further to the back. This had disastrous consequences, which then turned into the full rout of the 71st Infantry Division. Cries of, "German tanks are in Bulson," and reasoning such as, "We want to go home, back to our little jobs," plagued the ranks of the division. By May 15th,  little remained of the 71st Infantry Division and most of the divisional artillery was in repair ships, leaving only the 3rd North African Division intact.  The 3rd North African was part of Gransard's 18th Corps, but Huntziger decided to move the division under the command of General Flavigny, general of the 21st Corps. Flavigny was to lead yet another counter attack with this new division, as well as the 3rd Armored and 3rd Motorized Divisions.  But with the entire French front almost at the point of collapse, Guderian decided that it was time to take a final step of destroying the contact between Huntziger's 2nd Army and Corap's 9th Army by throwing his entire corps towards the town of Rethel, southwest of Sedan on the Aisne River.  This strategy was at first contested by his weak southern flank, which would be extremely prone to a French counter attack, which Guderian knew. Thus, Hurrying Heinz placed the 10th Panzer Division to hold the south while the rest of the tanks advanced towards Rethel. When Kleist received this information, his first act was to order a halt of the corps which Guderian read with complete disgust. A heated argument ended up in Kleist giving Guderian 24 hours more before the final halt.

Meanwhile, at French lines, Flavigny had spread his 3rd Armored Division along the front leaving his tanks helpless against massed panzer attacks. Not only this, but, when it came time for the final counter attack, the 3rd Armored couldn't regroup rapidly enough, thus, burning the chance of a well coordinated offensive towards Sedan and the Meuse.  Receiving hot pressure from higher positions, Flavigny strived to get the 3rd Armored out towards the French, but the division was already fighting for dominance of Stonne, a key town in the Sedan defense. Although only certain elements of the armor were there, the 3rd Motorized Division, already assembled, performed in an almost perfect defense, although it, ultimately, lost the village to the German armored superiority. Thus, with this, the counter attack was dead in the water, forcing Huntziger to leave the sector towards Verdun, over 40 miles from Sedan. The lack of a concerted attack left a massive gap in the French lines, allowing Guderian to take those 24 hours granted to him by Kleist to destroy Corap's Right Wing and, therefore, closing the Sedan battle and opening the beginning of the end for France's western line of defense.

All over the world the news of the breakthrough rung vividly in the ears of hundreds of thousands of people and news casts and diaries reported the incident without hesitation. William L. Shirer, in his journal The Berlin Diary, described the news:  Very long, stunned faces among the foreign correspondents and diplomats today. The High Command claims to have broken through the Maginot Line near Sedan and that German forces have crossed the Meuse River both at Sedan. To anyone who has seen that deep, heavily wooded Meuse Valley, it seems almost incredible that the Germans could get across it so quickly, provided there is any army at all defending the western bank.

What had gone wrong? The French had massive artillery superiority, and massive amounts of infantry, and, unlike other armies further north, an armored division as well as two smaller armored elements. But the French were diseased with poor leadership that caused the collapse of both the 71st and 55th Infantry Divisions. Not only that, but high command, starting with Gamelin and all the way down to Billotte, did not recognize the importance of the events taking place around the epic city of Sedan. Thus, when it came time to defend the skies or to send vital reinforcements, high command was reluctant to do so, allowing the Germans to bomb and destroy, uncontested by the French Air Force. This latter fact was the reason for such a break of moral in the most important hours of fighting, when the German infantry regiments were actually crossing the river Meuse.

Later, French lack of coordination in any type of counter attack at any right time resulted in the freedom of movement granted to the Germans and, hence, their ability to move at their pleasure and attack when the iron was hot. Had the French counter attacked against Balck before the 2nd Panzer Regiment had crossed, Balck would have been most likely overrun and the entire German offensive put in jeopardy.

These simple mistakes would be committed by the French for the remainder of their war and June Dunkirk was surrounded and only days away from destruction. The French campaign would be an example of French folly during the war, but it would also hold testimony to the greatest acts of mankind not ending or beginning with Dunkirk. And although France would be lost in a matter of weeks, as British Prime Minster Winston Churchill said, "We shall defend... whatever the cost may be...will carry on the struggle."


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Guderian, Heinz W., Panzer Leader. New York: Da Capo Press, 1952
McCarthy, Peter and Syron, Mike, Panzerkrieg. New York: Carroll & Graf, 2002
Von Mellenthin, F.W., Panzer Battles. New York: Ballantine Books, 1971
Powaski, Ronald E., Lightning War: Blitzkrieg in the West, 1940. Hoboken, New Jersey: Wiley, 2003
Shirer, William L. Berlin Diary. New York: Galahad Books, 19958.