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The Battle of France 1940 Time Line. Greatest Defeat of French Arms in World History

The battle of France saw German troops under general Von Studnitz enter Paris and the 87 infantry division conducted a victory march through the city. On June 16 Marshal Petain took over the government of France and the next day June 17 requested for an armistice. By 22 June France formerly surrendered and Hitler is delighted. It was the greatest defeat of French arms ever

In 1815 Napoleon had been defeated at Waterloo, a village close to the Belgian border by the troops under the Duke of Wellington. But that defeat pales into insignificance at the defeat of the French at the hands of Hitler in 1940. In a space of 42 days from May 10 1940 to June 22 the French were annihilated and became a vassal state of Nazi Germany. The time line of the events makes interesting reading.

The battle is officially considered to have begun at 0300 on 10 June with the arrival of Adolf Hitler at his bunker at Aachen, Germany to direct operation Fall Gelb, the code name for the assault on Western Europe.

At 0400h the attack began with operation “Sichelschnitt” a surprise attack on the low countries of Holland, Belgium and Luxembourg. This was the master stroke and part of the Schiffillian plan for an attack on France through the Low Countries. 76 German divisions take part in the assault that came as a complete surprise, though war clouds had been building up for some time.

By Morning of 15 May 1940 the Germans achieved complete success and the French Premier told Winston Churchill ‘We have been defeated, we have lost the battle’. On 16 May Churchill flew to Belgium and met general Gamlin who told him the battle is lost.

By May 18, the Germans captured Antwerp and reached the Serre River in France. The German army continued to press forward. Some half hearted attacks by the French were beaten back.  The Germans captured Boulogne in France on May 23 and the French once more have German troops on their soil after World War I and the 1870 Franco- German war.

By May 24 the Germans reached Calais in France when Field marshal Von Rundstedt the Cin C called a halt to the offensive to replenish supply lines. This was a crucial period and the British expedition force escaped from the beach head of Calais, though bombarded from the air. This Germans were again ordered to advance and they captured Calais on 26 May 2011. On 27 may Belgium formerly surrendered to Germany

By May 31 defeatism had crept into the French leadership and Marshal Petain became the prominent leader. He announced that he may consider a separate peace with Nazi Germany, despite Churchill meeting him in Paris on may 31.

The Germans continued their advance and by morning of June, 11 captured the historical French city of Reims. The French government decided to evacuate Paris to save the  city from destruction and on June 14  German troops under general Von Studnitz  entered Paris and the 87 infantry division conducted a victory march through the city. On June 16 Marshal Petain took over the government of France and the next day June 17 requested for an armistice. By 22 June France formerly surrendered and Hitler is delighted.  The Germans in all used 136 divisions (infantry) and 10 tank divisions for the attack. It was a most comprehensive victory. 1.9 million French soldiers were taken as POWs.

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