Fall Of France Pt 1

A plan for the invasion of France was drawn up in late 1939 by Franz Halder, chief of staff of OKH, codenamed Fall Gelb (Case Yellow). Often compared with the WW1 Schlieffen Plan, it was an unimaginative frontal attack through Belgium, sacrificing a projected half a million German soldiers for the goal of throwing the Allies back to the Somme. Hitler was very disappointed by the lack of ambition in Halders plan - it has been suggested that Halder, who was conspiring against Hitler at the time, proposed the most pessimistic plan possible to dissuade Hitler from attacking at all. A man named Von Manstein came to the rescue of Hitler, proposing a much more novel scheme which appealed to the Fuhrer's sense of daring.

As for the Allies, they had their own problems. The French commander, Maurice Gamelin, overruled the caution of his generals and opted to attempt to contain an expected German breakthrough in Belgium and Holland as far east of France as possible. It was politically unthinkable to leave Belgium and Holland to their fate in the event of a German violation of their neutrality. Also Gamelin felt that the German army would be able to defeat the French in mobile warfare, and planned to halt the German advance with the best French and British units at the KW-line, a defensive line following the Dyle, east of Brussels, trying to bog them down into attritional warfare as soon as possible. About a third of the French military was essentially static only, and was garrisoning the Maginot Line, which only covered the far south of the front. Another third were insufficiently motorised to react swiftly to any threat. Accordingly the finest French units were positioned in the north, and were ordered to cross over into Belgium as soon as possible in the event of a German assault on that country, while the less mobile units were placed in the Maginot Line or covering the Ardennes Forest, where an attack was deemed unlikely as the forest was poor tank country.

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