What's this all about ?

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En franšais

In a nutshell, this site is mainly about the armed forces of France in 1940, when they suffered their most shattering defeat (well... OK, their most recent shattering defeat, 1870 wasn't a glorious year either). The focus is on air and ground forces although there are some things I don't plan to include (the Maginot Line or individual aircraft types for instance, this is already well covered elsewhere - see the Maginot and Air War links). On the other hand, the French were not the only ones fighting on the Allied side during the Battle of France so I'll try to cover the BEF, Belgian and Dutch armed forces at a later date (any help will be appreciated).

To illustrate the sort of thing that motivated this site, in Liddell Hart's History of the Second World War (my copy is the 1970 Cassel edition), 21 pages (out of 731) are devoted to Chapter 7 "The Overunning of the West" which is reasonable enough since this book is a general history of the war. However, 9 of these pages deal with the fate of the BEF and "miracle" of Dunkirk and the fighting after the 2nd June warrants 2 pages. One could almost think that the 1940 Blitzkrieg was a duel between the BEF and Guderian's Panzers with armies of French, Belgian and Dutch spectators waiting to surrender.

What's the purpose of this site ? Basically, try to paint a more accurate picture of an area that, for years, has been mainly the realm of approximations, errors and prejudice. I'm not claiming that I'm in the possession of hitherto unknown information or that all that's been written up to now, in France or elsewhere, is dustbin fodder, far from that. But the fact remains that, in France anyway, it is only in the last 15 years that serious historical studies have taken over from blame-shifting apologies.

What I'd like to do is use current research and archival ressources when possible to provide facts for anyone interested in the 1940 campaign to make his own opinion. I won't try to prove that the French armed forces were the best in the world at the time (although they thought they were) but I'll try to highlight their actual weaknesses rather than the ones that were used as excuses afterwards.

Having said that, I do not consider myself an expert on the subject so there will probably be mistakes (although I try to avoid them) and oversights in these pages. Any and all feedback is always welcome [even if it's not to say how brilliant you think this site is ;-)].

As a sobering reminder, the 1940 campaign in the West caused the following military losses (1) :

Note 1 : These numbers were taken from Pierre ROCOLLE's La Guerre de 1940 Vol. 2 (Paris : Armand Collin, 1990). While they may not be exactly accurate, they do give an idea of the respective casualties sustained.

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