Sir John Valentine Carden survives.

Ooof! So the Germans have now had one Panzer brigade chewed up, as well as an infantry regiment getting mauled, along with the destruction of several artillery and AA positions AND damage to SS Totenkopf's armoured units. And the British have met up (finally) with their infantry and AT guns and no longer wandering around the French countryside.
Has Totenkopf's OoB been changed in this the TL? I thought they were only a Motorized Regiment during the Battle of France?
 
Following this battle the Germans are going to be (more) fully aware of the limitations of the Pz35/38. I foresee a butterfly of this TL being production of these tanks being switched earlier to SPG’s and Panzer Jägers based on the Chez chassis. This will also likely see more haste (if possible) in increasing production of up-gunned Pz3’s and 4’s.
 
Following this battle the Germans are going to be (more) fully aware of the limitations of the Pz35/38. I foresee a butterfly of this TL being production of these tanks being switched earlier to SPG’s and Panzer Jägers based on the Chez chassis. This will also likely see more haste (if possible) in increasing production of up-gunned Pz3’s and 4’s.
Quite possibly.

OTL Hitler ordered that the Pz3 be outgunned to the "long" 50mmL60 gun. For some reason a shorter L43(?) version was approved by the Army.* AIUI Hitler was not amused when he discovered the switch but it was too late for Barbarossa. Only a few Pz3's were properly equipped for Barbarossa a d I think it was only late in 1941 or even early 1942 before any reached North Africa.

TTL maybe there will be no dispute? And a start on upgrading the Pz4 gun too.

* Anyone know what the reason was?
 
7th Panzer has probably been hurt a lot worse than Rommel wants to believe. They've had over half their available tanks shot from under them. They don't own the battlefield at this point, so damaged tanks don't get recovered. They will also have other losses due to mechanical breakdowns. A division that badly hurt is no longer a viable combat force. The logical action is to have them withdraw under darkness, leaving a recon/patrol screen out, to be relieved in the morning by 5th Panzer. Whether 5th Panzer do any better is another battle :D

This BIG question is, can the BEF and French do enough damage to 5th Panzer to grind them up as well? If they can, High Command (already very nervous about unprotected flanks) is likely to call a full halt while they find out exactly what is hitting them so hard. Because if it is a large enough force, that panzer spearhead is going to be cut off and hit in the rear (it isn't, but they don't know that)

Thing is the Germans do have a fair few things going for them.
  1. The British don't really have the strength to continue the push and hold the ground they have already taken, realistically Britain can't hold the ground it has taken. Too spread out and not enough men. This is the best Britain could hope for all things considered.
  2. The British are withdrawing (which is the right thing to do), that will give the Germans the battlefield so they will recover lost equipment and tanks eventually. Also means the 5th Panzer aren't in immediate danger.
  3. The French are still a mess at this point. Britain cant rely too much on them as is.
  4. Germany controls the air. That will tell eventually, Britain can't rely on Matilda I's for AA.
Realistically as things play out the German's will advance on the British positions cautiously and find nothing. They will likely have learnt the lesson that charging ahead gets you mauled. That slower more cautious advance will likely continue until contact is made again. The thing is all the action so far has been against Hoth's forces, what will Kleist do/be ordered to do? His forces are already at the sea and could turn north very quickly. He could be forced to pull some of his forces back to fill the hole left by 7th Panzer slowing his advance.

OTL the timeline was
  • 21st the Battle of Arras
  • 22nd Kleist reaches Calais - just
  • 23rd Gort realises things are going badly and orders a withdrawal.
TTL the battle has gone better for the British and worse for the Germans. The Better communications mean Gort should be aware of the real situation much sooner. Kleist was spooked by the OTL battle this one should be worse for him so his advance may well be slowed even more than it was OTL especially if he feels or has to re-establish contact now the 7th is gone.
Calais may well be held this time within the initial perimeter.

As for Rommel's reputation it all depends. If the 5th gets badly handled by the British as well and some of Kleist's formations as well then he is probably OK.
I could well see a scenario where the panzer's keep running into strong British defences unsupported and loosing badly until the infantry catches up and a combined arms approach works. That could well have interesting changes for the German's pre Barbarossa. Ultimately it all depends on what happens in the next couple of day's.

An interesting outcome could well be the British and Germans both see unsupported tank attacks go badly and combined arms actions work well. Things are about to get interesting. Allan please don't keep us waiting.
 
Quite possibly.

OTL Hitler ordered that the Pz3 be outgunned to the "long" 50mmL60 gun. For some reason a shorter L43(?) version was approved by the Army.* AIUI Hitler was not amused when he discovered the switch but it was too late for Barbarossa. Only a few Pz3's were properly equipped for Barbarossa a d I think it was only late in 1941 or even early 1942 before any reached North Africa.

TTL maybe there will be no dispute? And a start on upgrading the Pz4 gun too.

* Anyone know what the reason was?

Apparently the infantry was adopting the short 50mm at the time and the logistics types didn't want to complicate things having two types of 50mm ant tank shells.
 
Apparently the infantry was adopting the short 50mm at the time and the logistics types didn't want to complicate things having two types of 50mm ant tank shells.
This is confusing- surely they would take the same ammo as it’s just the same gun with a barrel extension for higher muzzle velocity?
 
The mentions of recovering knocked out tanks post-battle has me wondering if a couple of Panzer 3s or even a 4 makes its way back to the UK for analysis and testing, a valuable yardstick for comparing features and capabilities.
 
Again another good update.
OTL the evacuation got out over 360000 British troops,
actually @140,000 were French, Belgian and Polish in French service and few Dutch. British (including Indian) troops made up about 2/3 of those lifted off IOTL.
 
21 May 1940. 20:00hrs. Beaurains, France.
21 May 1940. 20:00hrs. Beaurains, France.

The command from General Martel to begin to withdraw after dark, was received by both wireless and dispatch rider and acknowledged. For the last few hours, the main activity in the region of the 4th Bn RTR and 6th DLI had been an artillery exchange between the 368th Battery RA and the German guns that were identified on Telegraph hill and towards Mercatel. As for the tanks and
infantry, they had been busy digging themselves in and trying to cope with intermittent attacks from the air. Although a few tanks had tried to use their pompom guns to attempt to shoot down a Stuka, no other success had been achieved. A few officers in both the infantry and tank Battalions took note that in the absence of friendly aircraft, there needed to be something better than the AA platoon with its Bren guns.

At Agny, German motorcycle troops were probing the positions of B Company 6th DLI and C Coy 4th Bn RTR. The few surviving tanks from D Company 7th Bn RTR which had passed through them, had made their way back towards their own Battalion. The worry was if the British positions at Agny were by-passed, the withdrawal of the rest of 6th DLI and 4th Bn RTR from Beaurains would be interdicted. The commanders of the tank and infantry battalions, Lt-Col Fitzmaurice and Lt-Col Miller, tried to work out how best to leapfrog back to the original positions. Some RASC vehicles had managed to make it up to near the front lines, so the tanks had been able to refuel and rearm, making the journey back easier. One of the problems they worried about would be the probable loss of communication with the Royal Artillery battery. The Observation Post Officer, Lieutenant Boyd, had distinguished himself from his position in the belfry of the church.

The plan worked out was to pull back by Company, starting with C Company 6th DLI covering the road to Tilloy, along with B Company 4th RTR. They would take up a blocking position at Achicourt, where they would be joined by the tanks and infantry currently in Agny. The rest of 6th DLI, 206th Battery of 52nd Anti-tank Regiment RA, and 4th Bn RTR would pass through them and then hold at the railway line. Those at Achicourt would then move back to the original assembly point at Anzin-St Aubin, followed by the main force. Withdrawing under the cover of darkness is never an easy process, especially if the enemy were close by.

Just as the two Battalion commanders had finished their Orders Group to communicate and coordinate, there was a sudden increase in tempo of fire both incoming and outgoing. The officers and senior NCOs rushed back to their commands, to find that
there had been some German probing at various points of the British defensive positions. With the sun having set and it seemed, the Luftwaffe’s operations over for the day, the British plan to withdraw was put into effect immediately. For the next two hours the leapfrogging of about a mile at a time went smoothly, until all the left column south of Arras arrived back at their assembly point, from where the weary infantry were able to climb aboard Brigade transport back behind Vimy Ridge. The 4th Bn RTR tanks rumbled their way back another six miles on their tracks towards Vimy, where they would be reunited with some of the tanks that had broken down on the journey south from Tournai.

The withdrawal from Duisans to Maroeuil for the 8th DLI and 7th Bn RTR was also straightforward, aided by the 9th DLI, the Brigade reserve sending some transport and carriers forward to bring back the battle-weary troops. The tanks moved back under their own steam, though B Company 7th Bn RTR stayed at Maroeuil with 9th DLI to support them and keep an eye on the road to St Pol.

General Franklyn had a very frank meeting with General Martel and Brigadier Pratt about the difference between what had been planned and what in fact had been achieved. The senior officer had to make a report to Lord Gort at BEF HQ and despite having given the Germans a bit of a punch, it wasn’t landed with the force expected in the planning. Martel and Pratt, despite having known and worked together at the Directorate of Mechanisation, were quite critical of one another. Martel thought that Pratt was overly careful, Pratt thought that Martel was wrong to send off the Infantry Tanks without infantry support. It would be a few hours before the individual reports from the four Battalion commanders could be properly digested. Until then Franklyn suggested everyone try to get some sleep before the Germans started their mischief in the morning.

NB: Italic text differs from OTL. This is much like what happened, though more often later at night, and not quite as easily as described here. I mentioned the arrival of 3e DLM tanks that saved the survivors of two companies 8th DLI at Warlus in the last update. I've deliberately finished the battle of Arras with the First Army Tank Brigade having fundamentally survived. The losses to 7th Panzer are slightly heavier than OTL, but by only about 40 tanks. The Germans however will have control of the battlefield and will therefore be able to recover more of their tanks, while the British won't. This is probably a better outcome than I had originally planned, and that comes down to a couple of small changes that could/should have been made OTL, to be honest I just found it impossible not to improve the British showing, which was almost unbelievably bad as it actually happened.
Allan
 
actually @140,000 were French, Belgian and Polish in French service and few Dutch. British (including Indian) troops made up about 2/3 of those lifted off IOTL.

360000 British troops in total from operations Dynamo, Cycle and Ariel. Ariel was the evacuation from north west and western France. It was civilians as well as Military.

Yes 140000 troops of the Dynamo evacuation of 340000 were British however their is the possibility for more to get off here because fewer have died or been taken prisoner as they were overran by the Germans.
 
The absence of friendly air cover has been noted and some strongly worded letters are likely going to be sent to an RAF postbox.
Good showing all around from the RTR, I've been pleasantly surprised how little actually needed changing from OTL to get the better result.

Excellent presentation by the way, using italics to clearly highlight changes from OTL is a practice I hope spreads.
 
The absence of friendly air cover has been noted and some strongly worded letters are likely going to be sent to an RAF postbox.
Good showing all around from the RTR, I've been pleasantly surprised how little actually needed changing from OTL to get the better result.

Excellent presentation by the way, using italics to clearly highlight changes from OTL is a practice I hope spreads.
There were some ugly incidents between BEF veterans and RAF personnel between the evacuations and the Battle of Britain due to the lack of visible air cover during the B.O.F.
 
Really good leadership, as what happened at Dunkirk by the RN Captain where he placed a RAF pilot at the head of the evacuation line, could help in reducing the level of conflict between the groups. As was pointed out, more of the senior officers have not died/disappeared so far in Allan's version of the Battle of France and that should help. The realization that communications have to improve should also help in the future. We must be able to communicate with our RN and RAF counterparts.
 
21 May 1940. 20:00hrs. Beaurains, France.
Missing Threadmark.

A good showing, and should help change tactics in the future. Especially considering that the need to have infantry supporting tanks has been identified. Then again, my knowledge of WW2 history is little beyond this point.
 
So to summarise.
The British attacked in a more organised fashion. Did more damage to the Germans than OTL whilst suffering less themselves then where able to withdraw in good order.

Now lets see what happens over the next few days. Something tells me Pratt will win the little argument with Martel before too long.
 
21 May 1940. 21:15hrs. Perham Down Camp, England.
21 May 1940. 21:15hrs. Perham Down Camp, England.

The 8th Battalion Royal Tank Regiment had, as ordered, assembled itself to service overseas, due to leave the following day. The Commanding Officer couldn’t help think it was a dog’s dinner, with Companies and Sections with a variety of A11 Infantry Tank Mark Is, A12 Infantry Tank Mark IIs, Vickers Mark VIB Light Tanks, all of which was normal. Just to crown the whole thing, though, one section was made up of three new Vickers Valiant, which, he was assured, hadn’t actually been stolen from Farnborough.

The telephone rang with an urgent call from the War Office. 8th Bn RTR was to entrain by 23:00hrs at Ludgershall. This advanced the deployment by the best part of twenty-four hours, and despite the short notice and the lateness of the hour, the Battalion moved off less only one officer and ten other ranks. The transport didn’t arrive at the station until 22:40 hrs. From there the battalion would be taken not to Southampton as planned, but to Dover, from where they would be sent to Calais, to serve alongside the 30th Infantry Brigade. The 1st Battalion Queen Victoria’s Rifles and 229th Anti-tank battery RA would also join them.
 
Last one tonight. The difference is that 3 Bn RTR who should have gone to Calais in cruisers, are replaced by 8 Bn RTR in Infantry Tanks. I put in 3 Valiants because some of you wanted them. 3 Bn RTR will therefore go, as planned, with the rest of 1st Armoured Division.
 
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