Fall Of France Essay

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Oh How the Mighty Have Fallen: An Inquiry into the Fall of France “We have been defeated,” French Prime minister Paul Reynaud said stressfully. “We are beaten; the front is broken near Sedan.” Winston Churchill, Prime minister of Britain could not utter a response. How could it have happened? The once great French army was on the verge of defeat after just five days of battle. This was the case in the summer of 1940 when the Germans launched their offensive on May 10th, 1940. After the successful conquests of Poland, Denmark and Norway the German’s were poised to strike in the west, with only the French army in their way. The French were Europe’s only hope in stopping the Germans, who were looking to seal off the major powers from mainland Europe. The French were defeated in six weeks time and signed the humiliating armistice on June 21st, 1940. The capitulation of almighty France has raised serious questions about the preparation, leadership and deployment of French forces. The aim of this paper is to identify and analyze the key factors that led to France’s collapse in 1940. The French had poor military leadership from their generals and they made several key errors that resulted in the defeat. The French failed to act on Germanys aggressions because of a strained relationship with Britain. The French were also unprepared in their military tactics, expecting to fight a similar battle to WWI. They did not use there tanks effectively and the air force was almost non-existent at the decisive battles. Finally, it was the Germans superior battle tactics and new style of warfare that proved to be the decisive factor in the demise of the French. The errors of the French military leaders led to the failure of the French army and the defeat of France. Before the war broke out, General Gamelin was confident that the army was ‘ready for war’. The Commander-in-Chief’s
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