French 2nd army does not Withdraw

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: After 1900' started by mattep74, Jul 14, 2019.

  1. mattep74 Well-Known Member

    Jan 24, 2004
    is my inspiration from this WI

    WI if commander Huntzinger of the French 2nd army does not say no to help by bombers

    Then at 14:20 Huntzinger loses his cool and withdraws. WI he had his boys stay and fight? Would that have made a difference?
  2. naraic Well-Known Member

    May 14, 2014
    First of all I will note that most people prefer to be asked a question not told to watch a video in order to figure out the question.

    For those who don't care to watch a video I will note that I've watched 10 second of the video with no volume because I can't plug in earphones at the moment. I believe that the op is asking why the French army retreated in the battle of Sedan rather than calling for more airforce support.

    The reason is of course is that he knew the airforce wasn't really capable of supporting him. The French Air force wasn't set up for the intensity of operation needed to support the Army at this point and the RAF were operating at a distance from their bases and struggled to provide fighter support.

    With the command and control and airforce abilities the second army probably would have been defeated in any battle. Tactical changes on a small scale at this stage won't make massive differences.
    Normal for Norfolk likes this.
  3. Carl Schwamberger Well-Known Member

    Dec 14, 2012
    The video account is very shallow & leave a lot out, distorting what it does include. The real problem at Sedan at 14:20 was Flavigny, the 21st Corps commander. He had reporting delays in the counter attack his corps was to execute, & had been pessimistic. Accounts from the commander/staff of the 3rd DCR and 3rd Motor Infantry Div. indicate they were near ready to attack after 14:00. Perhaps they were perhaps not. Flavigny thought not & sent a message to Huntzinger saying so. This appears to influenced Huntzingers change in order that afternoon.

    'The Breaking Point' by Doughty is the most detailed English language account of the battle at Sedan. As far back as the 1960s Chapman, Horne, & later Jackson put forward clear and relatively complete accounts.

    However there was another event early afternoon that many have influenced Hutzinger as well. The 10th Corps was still attempting to stay in the fight. Early morning of the 14th May the corps commander had directed his corps reserve be assembled and counter attack imeadiatly. This reserve as eventual assembled included a infantry regiment from the 55th & 71st Division each, two independent tank battalions, and a artillery groupment. This group required the entire morning to assemble, with several changes or orders and adjustments. When the infantry & tanks were assembled late morning the artillery was not yet ready. This was the same artillery groupments that had precipitated the panic of the previous day. After 12:00 it was realized the artillery would not be ready to fire the intended preparation fires, or otherwise support. The attack was ordered forward anyway & swiftly fell apart. Within the hour it was clear the rifle battalions were not going to achieve their objectives. It may be new of this failure reached Huntzingers HQ by 13:00. Between this news and Flavignys pessimistic reports it may have looked like the German bridgehead was to strong for a hasty attack.

    Note the regiments of the 10th Corps were all Series B units, that had spent the winter as labor troops with one day a week or less actually training. The had also witness the mass bombing attack of the previous day, and were bombed repeatedly on the morning of the 14th. Conversely the regiments of 21st Corps were mostly Active Series units which had spent the previous eight months training. They were made up of a mix of younger conscripts, with a relatively high quality cadre. While the 3rd DCR had just been assembled as a division in March, and the HQ staff had had very little division level training, the regiments were all well trained formations. Flavignys career had been in the cavalry & he had a reputation for aggressiveness. Exactly why he had no confidence and failed to push his corps into the attack I don't understand.

    Exactly what might have happened had Flavignys attack gone ahead is difficult to sort out. 21st Corps was not the same class as those which failed on other occasions in the battle, & the situation was what it had been designed for. The German members of the Gross Deutchland regiment, and reinforcing companies of the 10th Pz Div were elite, but they were also exhausted from operating all night, and very short sleep for five days. They were also disrupted from their continuing series of attacks and advanced since 15:00 the previous day. During the previous night Balck had been moving by foot along the road and kicking the exhausted infantry awake and ordering them to continue forward. Despite the weak counter attack of the 10th Crops the Gross Deutchlands companies had continued to probe forward and gain several more kilometers through the morning and early afternoon. How well those men would hold up to a better organized attack, combined of artillery, heavy and light tanks, followed by a divisions worth of infantry.

    Exactly. While the 10th Corps & Flavigny were trying to organize their ground attacks both the French AF & RAF were attempting to attack the bridges at Sedan. The fragile pontoon bridges were the weakest point in Guderians bridgehead. During the day the Allies managed to sortie 145 aircraft against the bridges. They came in penny packets of a handful, or a dozen each hour. At low attack altitudes these were vulnerable to the massed fires of the German ground forces FLAK. Losses were heavy, and the bridges undamaged. Huntzinger had a small groupe of air cooperation planes for his army, & nothing else available that day, other than the 140 sent against the bridges. In contrast the Germans massed well over 500 bombers vs the Sedan sector defenses the previous day, and had them concentrated for just a few hours, rather than the entire day.