Coulsdon Eagle

Monthly Donor
Gamelin does a have a few things on his side. Given the terrible communication setup Reynaud and the government in Paris are only in possession of the sketchy details provided by a few unhappy officers. Also Reynaaud doesn't seem to have enjoyed huge support in his cabinet whereas Gamelin appears to have had a formidable reputation out of all proportion to his performance. And of course Gamelin has blaming the British to fall back on.
IIRC Daladier had Gamelin's back in cabinet.
 
Well one of those two options will happen, but remember the French do have Gamelin in charge, a man who apparently didn't believe in little things like being able to communicate with his commanders.

Gamelin, the general who literally managed to fuck his way into braindeath. Neuro-syphilitic dementia, treated with arsenic and mercury.
 

Garrison

Donor
Hello,

Here's hoping a few more better things happen for the Allies from this point on than in OTL.
Things will go a bit better in France, and much better for some particular members of the Allied forces there, but the big gains in the TL are coming in Africa and an island whose name rhymes with 'Pete'. As mentioned there will be gains elsewhere, but those will depend on the possible sequel.
 
Um, Will there be Changes in Barbarossa or Case Blue?

I would guess that changes would be inevitable. How big the changes will be will depend on how much has changed in the interim. If, for example, Hitler decides on the Battle of Britain as a Good Idea, and it turns out that the Luftwaffe gets pretty much eviscerated, then that will have knock-on effects and Barbarossa will be affected accordingly, which in turn will affect Case Blue.

Obviously, we don't yet know how the author will have things play out, but it is a common criticism of many TLs and Cunning Schemes that circumstances get changed, yet one side (that which the author deems to be the doomed side) continues to act as though nothing has changed. From what we have seen of this TL so far, I don't think that will be a criticism one can level at it. People seem to be responding to the situation they are in rather than the situation they faced in OTL.

Obviously, people can and do make wrong calls for various reasons, but I would expect the Battle of Britain to follow a somewhat different path, and that could easily have knock-on effects.
 
Thanks for the update.
I've got a few questions : why do the Germans reach the Dyle Line sooner than OTL? In OTL, even if Army Group B was trying to focus the Allies attention in Belgium they still tried to break through the Gembloux Gap, so what would 4 more Panzerdivisions add (with all the logistics required for a stronger push )?
I know that Gamelin made very bad decisions before the 10th (the Breda variant for example) as well as during Fall Gelb OTL, but here......
In OTL plenty of officers told him that he needed to go back to the Escaut Plan, as they assumed that the Dyle river was too far away, and even Gamelin himself had some doubts. ITTL, with the German advance being faster than OTL and stronger, even for Gamelin it is reasonable that he would decide to revert to the Escaut Plan.
 
I would guess that changes would be inevitable. How big the changes will be will depend on how much has changed in the interim. If, for example, Hitler decides on the Battle of Britain as a Good Idea, and it turns out that the Luftwaffe gets pretty much eviscerated, then that will have knock-on effects and Barbarossa will be affected accordingly, which in turn will affect Case Blue.

German aircraft production was slowed in 1941, they refused to believe the soviets had a large and well developed aircraft industry (despite reports from germans and italians who built the damn factories!)
If they lose even more aircraft, i think they would probably start listening to those unfavourable reports earlier and build more accordingly, however with fewer pilots to properly crew them.

Obviously, we don't yet know how the author will have things play out, but it is a common criticism of many TLs and Cunning Schemes that circumstances get changed, yet one side (that which the author deems to be the doomed side) continues to act as though nothing has changed. From what we have seen of this TL so far, I don't think that will be a criticism one can level at it. People seem to be responding to the situation they are in rather than the situation they faced in OTL.
Isn't that one of the hardest parts to think about in a TL?
The knock on effects, the butterfly of only one side is hard enough to think about, if you have to account a reaction to every change, and then a counter change, this will be incredibly difficult and eventually impossible.
I don't envy the job, i think i would go insane before finishing a single chapter.
 

Garrison

Donor
Um, Will there be Changes in Barbarossa or Case Blue?
Case Blue will be after the endpoint but both it and Barbarossa will happen. Honestly if it looked like the British would be on the Rhine by Christmas 1940 Hitler would probably still decide Barbarossa was a good idea. There will be some changes to Barbarossa but I would probably have to kill off Stalin to make radical changes.
I would guess that changes would be inevitable. How big the changes will be will depend on how much has changed in the interim. If, for example, Hitler decides on the Battle of Britain as a Good Idea, and it turns out that the Luftwaffe gets pretty much eviscerated, then that will have knock-on effects and Barbarossa will be affected accordingly, which in turn will affect Case Blue.

Obviously, we don't yet know how the author will have things play out, but it is a common criticism of many TLs and Cunning Schemes that circumstances get changed, yet one side (that which the author deems to be the doomed side) continues to act as though nothing has changed. From what we have seen of this TL so far, I don't think that will be a criticism one can level at it. People seem to be responding to the situation they are in rather than the situation they faced in OTL.

Obviously, people can and do make wrong calls for various reasons, but I would expect the Battle of Britain to follow a somewhat different path, and that could easily have knock-on effects.
The BoB will definitely be different, and there will be posts covering the post France plans of the RN, RAF and the Army post France. The biggest immediate beneficiary of the changed circumstances though may be the British merchant marine.
 
Obviously, people can and do make wrong calls for various reasons, but I would expect the Battle of Britain to follow a somewhat different path, and that could easily have knock-on effects.
If the BEF remain on the continent, is there a Battle of Britain at all?
The HE-111E and JU-88 had the range to hit London and the south coast of England from captured airfields in Belgium or Netherlands, however they would be mostly either escorted by ME-110 or unescorted for a large chunk over East Anglia. Although it would turn smaller RAF stations like RAF Wyton, RAF Westwood Farm, RAF Alconbury, RAF Upwood into much more important, front line bases, potentially see RAF Molesworth reactivated faster and places like Peterborough, a small market town really at this point, but with the Perkins, Baker Perkins and Mollins factories would become a higher priority target.
 
Isn't that one of the hardest parts to think about in a TL?

Well, yes. Isn't that the whole point of doing a TL? Seeing how things might play out differently.

The knock on effects, the butterfly of only one side is hard enough to think about, if you have to account a reaction to every change, and then a counter change, this will be incredibly difficult and eventually impossible.

Impossible? Nah. Step by step. You make your change, and see what the situation looks like. Sort out how the different players react in the changed circumstances. React accordingly. Apply the change. Rinse and repeat.

Difficult? Certainly. Requires a lot of research (or access to people with wide knowledge), absolutely. Impossible? Not at all. If I can do it, anyone can.
 
Case Blue will be after the endpoint but both it and Barbarossa will happen. Honestly if it looked like the British would be on the Rhine by Christmas 1940 Hitler would probably still decide Barbarossa was a good idea.
I doubt he would. A two-front war was a german nightmare.
He would like to invade Russia though, but I think he would realise it would be a very bad timing. Also the whole German staff would, because it the British would be on the Rhine in 1940, after fall Gelb, the latter has gone horribly wrong and they would have a lot less confidence than OTL.
 
If the BEF remain on the continent, is there a Battle of Britain at all?

Quite probably not. If the BEF remains on the Continent (a big if there), then that implies France hasn't fallen. If France is still in the game (notice that first word of the sentence), then it would be unlikely that the Battle of Britain would take place in OTL form.

Case Blue will be after the endpoint but both it and Barbarossa will happen. Honestly if it looked like the British would be on the Rhine by Christmas 1940 Hitler would probably still decide Barbarossa was a good idea. There will be some changes to Barbarossa but I would probably have to kill off Stalin to make radical changes.

Would Hitler go ahead with Barbarossa? Probably. Would it take the form it did in OTL? That's more questionable.

I'm interested in seeing how things play out in this vision, and any speculations on my part remain just that - speculations.
 

Garrison

Donor
Lots of interesting speculation here, and while I do have a draft of the whole TL things might be amended thanks to the discussions here. Possible I may do a rewrite of a couple of paragraphs to make Gamelin's actions more about the fog of war and political pressure than just stubbornness.
 

Garrison

Donor
So the revised version is posted. Some of the changes:
...When the first reports reached Gamelin on the 12th of German forces already passing the Dyle Line he was left in something of a quandary, given the communication issues the French HQ had the reports were fragmentary and contradictory, with dispatches often arriving out of sequence and so delayed that the situation at the front had drastically changed given the speed of German movement. Things were further complicated by political missives arriving from Paris. The Defence Ministry and Prime Minister had been on the receiving end of frantic demands from the Belgians that the Anglo-French forces advance quickly to the Dyle, or indeed all the way to the German border, driving the Wehrmacht before them.

In the circumstances Gamelin felt he had to drive harder for the Dyle. releasing some of the more mobile units from the deliberate, some might say plodding, advance of the rest Anglo-French forces in Belgium and he sent out orders that this be done with all speed. The insistence on ‘with all speed’ had serious consequences as the mobile forces that were sent out to intercept whatever had crossed the Dyle would be scout vehicles and light tanks, which in truth was what Gamelin and his staff expected them to encounter....
...Similar reports to those that had reached Gort were making their way to Gamelin’s headquarters, but again taking far longer to do so. Even as Gort was drawing his grim conclusion about the Dyle Plan arguments still raged in the French HQ. some officers certainly would have agreed with Gort that they should shift plans to defending along the Escault Line, others resolutely arguing for pressing forward, still believing that the Germans simply couldn’t have advanced in the strength some of the reports suggested so quickly. Somewhere in the middle there was a cadre of officers calling for a temporary halt until the situation could be clarified, all this while an ever increasing flow of dispatches arrived from Paris, confusing matters still further as those from Reynaud and those from the defence ministry offered sharply diverging suggestions and demands. Gamelin was strongly leaning towards the idea of issuing a halt order to regroup his troops. Given the actual situation at the front such an order would have courted disaster as many units were in poor locations to mount a defence if they came under attack from the Panzer spearheads. The issuing of this order was prevented only by the arrival of Alan Brooke, or at least this is the consensus amongst English speaking historians.

Brooke had to wait for an hour to speak with Gamelin and when he finally did it was not a pleasant conversation. Gamelin explained about the halt order and Brooke made no bones of the fact that this was not in line with British intentions and that the Anglo-French French forces must fall back to the Escault. Plan D had failed, the Germans were clearly across the river in strength and this idea of halting where they were courted disaster. Gamelin initially resisted this suggestion, perhaps not wanting to be seen to be ceding authority to the British. Brooke again made it clear this was not a suggestion, it was Gort’s firm intention backed by the Prime Minister. Faced with this resolute display Gamelin now had grounds to follow the advice of the members of his own staff who had called for a withdrawal, He would issue the orders, but expected the British to conform to his plan for the withdrawal and not to proceed independently. Brooke assured him that the British would be happy to do so. He admitted later however, ‘At this point I felt compelled to offer what reassurance I could even though I knew that Gort had been granted substantially greater leeway in regard to conforming with the French than had been the case before the 10th. I could also not shake the feeling that Gamelin intended to use Gort’s decisions to deflect the inevitable criticism of his new plan by his political superiors.’...
 
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May 14th – May 18th – 1940 – The Battle of Belgium – Part II – Retreat to the Escault Line

Garrison

Donor
May 14th – May 18th – 1940 – The Battle of Belgium – Part II – Retreat to the Escault Line

The first requirement for the withdrawal was to slow the advance of the Germans and allow the main body of the Franco-British forces to disengage and fall back in a relatively orderly fashion. To achieve this would require some units to engage the German forces and check their progress before withdraw through a series of what were referred to as layback positions, temporary defensive positions built around points the Germans couldn’t simply bypass. These units would, in theory leapfrog one another as they withdrew to further layback positions before finally joining up with the main body at the Escault, holding up the Germans at each position. This was simple in principle and anything but easy in practice. In several instances troops either waited too long to withdraw or simply found themselves flanked regardless of the position they held. Some of these isolated units gave in quickly, often because some particularly charismatic leader had fallen, while others fought until they ran out of ammunition before surrendering. Both groups should naturally have received identical treatment as POWs, those who fought to the end however were subjected to much rough treatment from soldiers and officers frustrated by the delays they had caused and angry at the casualties they had inflicted. This mistreatment included beatings, refusal to provide medical aid to the wounded and on at least two occasions outright refusing to recognize the Allied units in question had surrendered and continuing attacks until the positions were destroyed along with most of the defenders. It must be noted that this ill-treatment was largely carried out by ordinary units of the Heer and not SS units despite later claims to the contrary [1].

Possibly of even greater importance in delaying the Wehrmacht was to bomb the long lines of supply vehicles moving through Belgium. The Germans had done their best to disperse these columns, there only so many roads they could use though, and some very tempting targets presented themselves, if the RAF could be cajoled into attacking them, which was no easy feat since as far as the RAF were concerned their role was strategic, not tactical. There had been plans to bomb bridges to disrupt German movements, but many of the targets in question were now either too far back to matter or lay in Belgium and the Belgian government fiercely resisted any plan to target their own infrastructure, much to the detriment of the retreat Allied forces. While the RAF’s fighters based in France were doing an admirable job of demonstrating that the Luftwaffe was not unstoppable, the RAF bomber force was sat largely idle, much to the frustration of the crews.

The impasse was settled early on the 14th when Air Vice-Marshal Richard Peirse, then acting as C in C Bomber Command found himself on the receiving end of a phone call from Churchill himself, stating that either he would instruct the bomber squadrons to carry out the attacks on the supply columns or his successor would be expected to do so. The first attacks went in the early afternoon of the 14th and were almost unopposed as after days of inactivity the Luftwaffe fighters patrolling over the columns had largely been reassigned to support the bombers attacking the Allied troops by keeping the RAF fighters at bay. Further attacks on the 15th and 16th caused further damage, but the RAF faced increasing resistance as they continued the attacks, with the losses on the 16th forcing the suspension of further operations. The RAF and their French counterparts had done their job though by then. The German logistics chain teetered on the brink of collapse; it was not just the loss of materiel that hurt the Wehrmacht but the destruction of so many trucks that the Reich could not easily replace, creating substantial difficulties getting supplies to the front-line units. Only the energetic efforts on the part of certain officers in the Panzer Divisions restored some semblance of order and somehow kept things moving [2].

It would take several days for the full effect of the air attacks to become clear and even as the Allied air attacks were at their height on the 14th the Luftwaffe was focusing its medium bombers in a raid on Rotterdam, deliberately bombing the civilian areas of the city to break the Dutch will to fight. This raid was carried out after an ultimatum from the Germans that the city’s garrison must surrender, or the Luftwaffe would destroy the city. The commander of the garrison had no choice but seek permission from the Dutch Commander in Chief Henri Winkelman to surrender the city. This was granted, though too late to stop the bombing. With a similar ultimatum being issued against Utrecht General Winkelman felt he had no choice but to order all his forces to lay down their arms. The formal surrender of the Netherlands took place on the 15th of May [3].

This surrender had been regarded as almost inevitable once the Germans were across the Dyle. Of more immediate concern to the British and French was the situation with the Belgians. Their morale had been shaken by the swift fall of Eben Emael and the rapid German advance. Even more damaging to their will to fight was the decision to fall back to the Escault Line, which provoked much resentment as the Belgians felt they had been handed an ultimatum about the withdrawal rather than being consulted and were simply expected to conform their troops movements to that of the Allies. The Belgian King Leopold III, egged on by his aide-de-camp Major-General Van Overstraeten, complained bitterly to the British and French on this subject, and much else besides. On several occasions the Belgians dragged their feet over complying with the deployments assigned to them under the revised Escault Plan. This led to three divisions of French reserves being called up to cover potential gaps in the line, further depleting the reserves that had already been reduced by the need to replace units that had taken heavy losses fighting the German advance the German advance.

Fortunately for the Allies the Germans were not able to exploit these potential vulnerabilities. By the 16th the leading Panzer formations were encountering serious problems as they tried to reach the Escault Line and prevent the Allies from digging in there. The Heer was certainly being affected by the disruption to the supply lines and they had taken to ‘living off the land’ to some degree, using civilian fuel supplies to keep the tanks moving [4]. The primary issue at this point however was the fact already alluded to that the defenders at the layback positions were proving far more resilient than the Wehrmacht had assumed they would be in their initial planning and based on the experience of their initial swift advance and the routing of the light units Gamelin had dispatched to counter the supposed reconnaissance forces.

Panzers might be able to go off country, at a considerable penalty in speed, but much of their support was bound to the roads. In some places Luftwaffe attacks supported by the Panzers were enough to force British and French troops to break and run. Many though were learning the simple lesson that troops were at their most vulnerable when they broke and ran, and it was better to fight and try and withdraw in good order. This left the German forces in the position of having to call up infantry and put in prepared attacks to clear the defenders time and again. This slowed the advance, much the frustration of the Panzer crews, who could feel what had seemed like imminent victory slipping away.

A further source of frustration was what was seen by some crews as the poor performance of the Panzer III. This was the vehicle the Wehrmacht was counting on for tank-to-tank engagements and all too often it was coming off second best as it was forced to engage enemy armour of far greater fighting power than the light tanks they had initially engaged. The French medium and heavy tanks were proving difficult to knock out with the Panzer III’s 37mm main armament, as were the British Matilda II and Valentine. The crews manning the towed AT gun version were faring even worse as they didn’t have any armour to protect them from return fires directed their way by the enemy tanks their rounds repeatedly bounced off. That the Panzers were eventually able to achieve dramatic victories despite these problems reinforces the conclusion that the superiority of the Panzer Divisions lay in tactics and co-ordination, including the close air support the Luftwaffe regularly provided which was sadly lacking on the Allied side well after 1940. The Panzers were still advancing, largely because as their pace slowed more of the following infantry formations were able to catch up and reinforce the attacks. Nonetheless thanks to the bombing of the supply convoys and the stubborn resistance of British and French rear-guards the Allies had finished the retreat to the Escault by the 18th and consolidated this new line of defence. This though was nothing but a temporary breathing space [5].

[1] Obviously invented but in character with events that happened elsewhere in the war and in WWI. Troops tended to resent those who kept fighting and then just put their hands up and expected to be accorded the rights due to them as POWs.

[2] In OTL the RAF were resistant to any ideas of ground support and when they were committed, they attacked bridges along the Meuse to no great effect, essentially ignoring the supply columns. Another example of the phenomenal luck of the Wehrmacht in 1940.

[3] As per OTL since this part of Case Yellow isn’t affected by the changes in the timeline. Bombing and the threat of bombing brought swift capitulation from the Czechs and the Dutch in OTL and arguably played a part in the French willingness to sue for peace. Given the tactic worked so well for them it’s hardly surprising Hitler had such faith in the Luftwaffe’s ability to bring the British to their knees. Of course, Fighter Command was a different order of magnitude compared to the defenders of the Luftwaffe’s previous targets.

[4] Filling up at any available petrol station siphoning fuel from vehicles and all the other tricks they used to keep moving in OTL, though obviously this is harder in Belgium than it was in France.

[5] So this is a stronger position than OTL, problem is that there is still a myriad of issues with Franco-British co-operation, not to mention getting the different service branches to co-ordinate. Even worse this fighting is drawing in awful lot of the French reserves and there’s still those Panzer Divisions the Wehrmacht hasn’t committed yet.
 

Garrison

Donor
So Tuesday's update will cover the last phase of the opening campaign of the battle for western Europe, but really posting because I think I have worked an end for the war in Europe as whole for the sequel question that occurs to me is should it be a separate thread or just continue it in here? Obviously a long way off but always good to have a roadmap.
 
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