Sir John Valentine Carden survives.

So how long before the Hollywood movie with Errol Flynn starring in the American defence of Calais comes out? :smileskisses:

I think Iremember that one. Don't the American's also capture the intact enigma machine while fouling a plot to kill Hitler! Pretty much winning the war before the US is even in it. ;)

All while disguised as a mobile bath unit smuggling out of France vital machine tools.
 
... I am eagerly awaiting the In-Universe Book/Film about "The Three Valiants of France", by the way.

Neatly glossing over the fact they shouldn't have been there, portraying the episode as a flawlessly executed plan to capture the latest German equipment. All in the finest tradition of the Boy's Own Paper.

'The exploits of tanks "Tom, Dick, and Harry" would feature in a fictionalized account by Japanese comic book artist Go Nagai in his story of the same name, published in 1978. The artist would mention in interview how much the story of "prototype vehicles sent to the front lines to prove themselves" appealed to him. An animated adaptation was released on video in 1988.'
- excerpt from Wikipedia article 'Vickers Valiant Tank'
By the second or third remake they would be 3 anachronistic Sherman's with Brad Pitt in command capturing Guderian and destroying most of a Panzer division.
 
M24 Chaffees - with the German tanks being m47 Pattons..........
Stills from the film Valiant Calais.

1611494146641.png
1611500443780.png
 
Last edited:
29 May – 3 June 1940. The Somme, France.
29 May – 3 June 1940. The Somme, France.

The arrival of the 51st (Highland) Division on the river Bresle coincided with General Altmayer’s Groupement A being renamed as 10e Army. The 51st Division and 1st Armoured Division coming under IX Corps. Another French attempt to reduce the German bridgehead over the River Somme was led by General De Gaulle’s 4e DCr got off to a good start, but suffered the same problems as previously of lack of coordination between tanks, artillery and infantry. The German bridgehead at Abbeville remained in place, and more destroyed and broken-down tanks littered the fields of France.

There was a limited offensive carried out by the 51st Division which allowed some of the British tanks, knocked out on 26 May, to be examined, and where possible recovered. Generally, the Germans had set fire to any tanks they had destroyed, so there were few tanks that were towed away for repair at the newly set up Armoured Corps workshop at Louviers. Some equipment was recovered, and some bodies buried, but there were few tanks worth recovering.

Most of the Armoured Division’s tanks that needed recovery and repair, due to mechanical failure, rather than enemy action, were, over the next few days, by one means or another, sent back to Louviers, the worst cases being sent on to Nantes by rail for repair. The problems with the strains on the French railway system contributed to the difficulties for the repair and maintenance of the tanks of the 1st Armoured Division.

The French attacks on the Somme bridgeheads dwindled, as the evacuation of the French and British forces at Dunkirk made the need to break through to them less acute. General Georges, Commander in Chief Allied Forces North-western France, issued a “Note on the conduct of offensive operations”, bringing together some of the lessons learned so far to “prevent, as soon as possible, the repetition of costly errors”. He noted particularly the need for air, artillery, infantry and tank units to work together to overcome the enemy. When tanks “have been badly covered and badly supported, the result is, the loss of a large number of vehicles with achieving more than a very temporary advance."

The Beauman Division was established on 31 May out of various line of communication troops, adding to the 1st Armoured Division and 51st Division British contribution to the French defence of the Somme front. Large numbers of line of communications establishments and depots were ordered to evacuate, since they were no longer supporting the BEF. The intention was to create a second BEF but it was only going to be a small fighting force in the short term. Along with the evacuation of the personnel, as much as possible, the surplus supplies, ammunition and fuel which were meant to support the BEF were to be returned to Britain, where they would be needed to rebuild the forces evacuated from Dunkirk. Part of the hampering of the recovery of tanks of 1st Armoured Division was that so much transport and personnel were working at moving the main BEF ammunition dump in the vicinity of Buchy to bring it back towards St Malo to be shipped back to England.

General Evans, discussed matters with General Sir John Dill, the new CIGs, about the state of the Division. It was clear that none of the newly built tanks that were being delivered from the factories were now going to be sent to France to replace those lost in the fighting so far. So, General Evans took the difficult step and ordered that 2nd Armoured Brigade should hand over as many, as needed, of their running tanks to 3rd Armoured Brigade to bring it up to full strength, and leave the rest as battle replacements and reserves. Then the majority of men of the 9th Lancers, 10th Hussars and Queens Bays, along with their supporting personnel, would be returned to England to be reconstituted as 2nd Armoured Brigade with new tanks. 3rd Armoured Brigade would then be assigned to the 51st Division as a tank brigade. Since the majority of the running tanks of both Brigades were A9 and A10s, which being slower, but better armoured than the A13s, would be suitable for this role. There were also a number of Mark VI Light Tanks which were lent to the 1st Lothians and Borders Yeomanry, the Divisional Reconnaissance regiment.

While this decision effectively ended the establishment of the 1st Armoured Division (and General Evans military career), for General Victor Fortune having the men and tanks of the 2nd, 3rd and 5th Battalions Royal Tank Regiment was a godsend. He began immediately to get each Battalion to work with one of his three Brigades (152nd, 153rd and 154th). The Yeomanry in their light tanks provided his eyes, and the 2-pdr guns on the tanks, gave his infantry excellent support, along with their integrated Divisional 51st Anti-tank Regiment. Because they had been at the Saar to support the French, the 51st Division had gone with some extra forces attached, including two Machine Gun battalions, two Pioneer battalions, along with an extra artillery field Regiment and Medium regiment. Now that he also had the Armoured Brigade, and their Support Group of the 101st Anti-aircraft and Anti-tank Regiment, his was now a powerful force. More good news was to follow as ten Bofors 40mm anti-aircraft guns arrived for the 101st Regiment, giving them now something more than Lewis guns to protect against air attack.

NB Text in italic differs from OTL. I've gone a bit further here than happened, but the seeds are there. If you remember from post
#3875, the 2nd Armoured Brigade was withdrawn to Rouen to refit, and a composite regiment of 10th Hussars and Queens Bays was formed, with 9th Lancers making up the Brigade. OTL it was actually the 3rd Brigade withdrawn and the composite regiment of all three Regiments of 2nd Armoured left to as a mobile reserve for the 51st Division. Because ITTL 3rd Brigade is better off (it has all three Battalions) this is left to support the 51st. The losses of tanks OTL that Evans discusses with Dill (noted here by tank, then enemy action, then mechanical breakdown): A9: 7 and 4. A10 2 and 10. A13 22 and 22. Mark VIB 8 and 11. Mark VIC 26 and 6. Total lost to enemy action 65, mechanical defects 55. There is a fair amount of swapping around tanks between regiments to keep up numbers available. I've taken that to the logical extreme. Evans career is over after France, but here I've taken him further than he was prepared to go, even if, from what I've read, it would make sense to him. Once he knows he's not getting replacement tanks/men from home, he can either keep amalgamating his diminishing force, as he did, or send back a seasoned draft of men to rebuild completely, presumably to come back as part of 2nd BEF in due course, at least that is my story and I'm sticking to it.
Regarding 51st (Highland) Division, all the extras were with them, though it isn't clear if some of them went to the Beaumont Division. The decision to bring back surplus supplies was made and implemented, but I've added the ammunition dump which would have been sensible!
 
Last edited:
Yes, Operation Dynamo was a success but France has not yet fallen, so we will see how the butterflies slightly alter the remainder of the battle.
 
Speaking of the Americans, after testing the Valiant, do you think there's a possibility of a joint Anglo-American design committee for the next tank after the Victor?
OTL, the British hopes for US production of their cruisers and Infantry Tanks were looked on, as what the beaming parents of a kindergartner proudly showing off the little tykes fingerpainting, and the not so adoring neighbors promptly stuck it on the corkboard with the title underneath
'Never build anything this poorly designed, ever'

Now ATL, inplace of the sad jokes presented, have solid, combat proven design that is reliable and effectively armed: This would not be binned immediately.

In 1940, the US didn't have anything better than the Continental R-975 of 350 hp for powering heavier tanks. Here, you have the bones of a solid motor
The US was not adverse to producing decent engine, see the Merlin production.
2nd, Chaffee before he died, was a proponent of diesel powered light and medium tanks.
Unlike OTL, the Armor Board now has a working example of a decent diesel

The US VVSS and developing HVSS would be slightly better, but not night and day like the Christie that the Army said 'Nope!' in 1938 on seeing the current British
suspension, and no terrible tracks, but units that aren't quite as good as the US rubber 'live' track, but still very decent, that will be important once the US loses access to natural rubber
 
. Generally, the Germans had set fire to any tanks they had destroyed, so there were few tanks that were towed away for repair at the newly set up Armoured Corps workshop at Louviers
OTL, US Army it generally was SOP to keep shooting at an enemy tank until obviously knocked out by burning, as there is no recovery from that.

Postwar pictures of holed German AFV led to some some Wehraboos to exclaim 'Krupp Stahl, so Stronk! need many shot to KO'
 
OTL, US Army it generally was SOP to keep shooting at an enemy tank until obviously knocked out by burning, as there is no recovery from that.

Postwar pictures of holed German AFV led to some some Wehraboos to exclaim 'Krupp Stahl, so Stronk! need many shot to KO'
They watched too many westerns
 
Now ATL, inplace of the sad jokes presented, have solid, combat proven design that is reliable and effectively armed: This would not be binned immediately.
Exactly. It's a good tank (and one with upgrade potential, which is a nice addition) and certainly better than anything the US has right now, or will have in the near future. I suppose it's possible they'll find something to object to (maybe the requirement to be welded, not sure how much experience they had with that sort of welding at the time), but it's definitely not going to raise the objection of not being good enough. Still, we'll have to wait and see.
 
Last edited:
Exactly. It's a good tank (and one with upgrade potential, which is a nice addition) and certainly better than anything the US has right now, or will have in the near future. I suppose it's possible they'll find something to object to (maybe the requirement to be welded, not sure how much experience they had with that sort of welding at the time), but it's definitely not going to raise the objection of not being good enough. Still, we'll have to wait and see.
Disregarding any political/pride issues that could limit such exchanges, I can see a few changes relative to OTL being viable:

- the 6pdr appears to have been slightly brought forward and the Americans were interested in it so would probably introduce it earlier as a result, although I don't think it will see use on vehicles any earlier.

- OTL there was no British engine that could possibly interest the Americans in 1940. Here, there is the Perkins Lion in gasoline and diesel form which should be quite mass-production-friendly and fully meets power requirements. It does so while being a more compact and lighter design than any engine used in the Sherman, outside of the Ford GAA which isn't even being considered yet, and the R975 which was lighter. It has the huge advantage of being very near the end of its development so should be more mature than the emergency GM 6046 and Chrysler A57 at this point. The main caveat is that OTL the US seemingly didn't set up new tank engine factories in 1940-41 and rather relied on existing production, hence the Chrysler made of automobile engines and the 6046 made of two GMs already available.
However the Lion might appear good enough to justify setting up production lines in the US as an alternative or replacement to the R975. The latter was itself still problematic in the M3 Lee as it consumed a lot of oil, was not very durable and had very poor net HP/cooling. In this regard, cooling has been worked out on the Valiant already so sharing the design with the US to accelerate integration of the Lion is possible. I don't see the use of Lion making US tanks smaller however, as the R975 and probably more engines would still be needed to sustain production. That is unless the US decides to make the Sherman without the R975 at all and only with the Lion and engines of the same size, in which case the driveshaft will be straight and low even without a transfer case. I highly doubt it however.

- I remember that Napier and Meadows were still working on prospective engines too. They are probably still early in the design stage however but sharing the technology with the US could be useful, again only if the US is willing to set up brand new engine production instead of relying on commercially available designs.

- I don't really see the Valiant being produced in the US for the simple reasons that none of its components are massively produced in the States, adapting it to US components probably isn't viable, the US is more familiar with the M2 Medium components, and setting up production for scratch will probably take so long that the Sherman is nearly ready anyway. In the rest of the Commonwealth that could happen however.

- A more likely possibility is that the Victor's plans are sent to the US if the design has been sufficiently developped at this point. This could influence the final design of the M4 and would be easier to adapt to US components and techniques at the paper stage. In fact, it might be best to set an Anglo-American design team to supplement Vickers and to standardize on set components and features for a M4/Victor, be it a single standard tank or two national tanks with some features being shared (engine bay size and turret ring diameter for example). This could accelerate development of either tank and make up for any shortages of specific components in one country, and is more convenient for Lend-Lease/Cash and Carry.

Welding capacity will not be a problem in the US, they were already working on it for the M3 Lee and the Stuart. A likely development of a Valiant production extended to other countries is that there will probably be a need for a cast steel version, first because some countries have casting but no welding capacity, second because meeting production requirements will likely require more than just welding (OTL the Churchill Mk 3's turret was not produced much as supplies of thick weldable rolled plate ran out), and there are substantial casting capacity in the US and UK.
 
Do a deal for the Perkins Lion diesel engine for production in the USA similar to the OTL deal for Packard to build the RR Merlin.
A marinized Perkins Lion would be a really good bit of kit for landing craft and other small boats.
 
What about an Allison diesel? The U.S. has a couple of years to modify an Allison to diesel and nobody is bombing their factories.
 
What about an Allison diesel? The U.S. has a couple of years to modify an Allison to diesel and nobody is bombing their factories.
Is it ready late '40/early '41? Because that'll be when it's needed for if Valiant production goes ahead in the USA.
 
Last edited:
4-10 June 1940. The Somme to the Seine.
4-10 June 1940. The Somme to the Seine.

The 51st Division had moved up on the morning of 4 June to attempt once more, in conjunction with French troops, to unseat the German bridgeheads over the Somme. As with all previous attempts it ended in failure.

The next day the German plan, ‘Fall Rot’ began. All along the front of the 51st Division the German forces struck and struck hard. The frontage that the Highlanders held made it difficult for units to be able support each other, and as the day wore on the 154th Brigade was reduced considerably, its survivors withdrawing towards the river Bresle during the night, often covered by the tanks of the 5th Bn RTR, whose support had been invaluable in preventing the German infantry attacks to gain as much traction as they would have liked. The 153rd Brigade were also heavily engaged, but the full force of the Germans had been on their neighbours in the 154th Brigade. Likewise, the 152nd Brigade and the French 31e Division also were attacked, and by the evening of 5 June were falling back to the river Bresle. During the night of 5/6 June, General Fortune made it clear that his division could not continue to hold the length of front, especially after the casualties taken that day. Orders were received to withdraw behind the river Bresle, the British Division holding the river from the sea to Gamaches, a frontage of about 10 miles. The 31e Division would hold the next section from Gamaches to Senapont.

6 June was relatively quiet along the front, but the 5th and 7th Panzer Divisions, and the rest of XV Corps had begun their thrust towards Rouen, making good progress across country, the French forces once more found they had no real answer to the speed and combined arms tactics. General Weygand ordered that the Bresle was to held ‘at all costs’. Reinforcements for the 51st Division were brought up from A Brigade, some 900 men, of the Beauman Division. Fortune also brought the Support Group of 1st Armoured Division back from their position on the other side of the French 31e Division, trying to keep the men under his command within communications. Communication problems beset the command of control of 10e Army, with the Highlanders and General Weygand’s HQ. As the German push towards Rouen continued Fortune could see that he had two options. Either his forces would have to retreat towards Le Harve, with the probability of having to be evacuated, or they would have to cross the Seine before the Germans did. It was obvious that the Germans had already outflanked the Bresle Line, so Weygand’s order to hold it ‘at all costs’ made little or no sense. The rest of the French IX Corps, made up 31e, 40e Division, 2e DLC and 5e DLC, as well as the two British Divisions, were under the command of General Ihler. The rest of the Beauman Division were dug in along the River Bethune, while the two Light Cavalry Divisions held the flanks of the Corps against the 12th and 32nd Infantry Divisions of the German army.

7 June was another quiet day along the British front, the Germans seemed content to hold the British and French troops in place, while the mobile German columns approached Rouen. Fortune took an opportunity to contact General Karslake, who as Commander of the Lines of Communications, was the senior British commander. Fortune noted that the Beauman Division, under Karslake’s command, was being ordered back across the Seine, and asked whether it might be able to bring the whole of the IX Corps back too, as they were cut off from the rest of the French army, something that had happened before to the BEF and French First Army. Karslake, who was in contact with London asked for clarification.

On 8 June as the forward elements of the German were making serious progress towards the Seine, General Ihler finally got orders to withdraw to Rouen. Since the Germans were almost there, Karslake informed London of the problem and requested a plan to made to evacuate the forces cut off north of the Seine. There were already British ‘useless mouths’ who were being evacuated from Dieppe, and that was the advice given to General Fortune, to prepare his forces to fall back into Dieppe and be prepared to have the Royal Navy lift them off. The offer to evacuate the French troops was also made, to cover General Ihler’s blushes. Ihler, on being informed, looked at pulling the Corps back to the River Bethune, and pivot on Torcy, pulling back into Dieppe. The first moves were to be completed that night and then completed on the night of the 9/10 June.

The Royal Navy were struggling between the situation in Norway and the losses and damage to ships at the evacuation at Dunkirk, but nonetheless a naval operation 'Cycle' for the evacuation of the northern base troops had already started and shipping began assembling off the coast early in the morning. The Commander-in-Chief Portsmouth (Admiral Sir William James) had planned to use Le Harve, but it was becoming clear that Dieppe was going to be the main place to pick up the 51st Division and associated French troops.

As previously the roads were clogged making the movement difficult, but with the coverage of the tanks of the 3rd Armoured Brigade and the Yeomanry Regiment provided a cloak under which the infantry could move relatively unmolested by enemy action. With the capture of Rouen on 9 June, the German Panzer Divisions turned their attention to cutting the IX Corps off from Le Havre and began to move northwards on 10 May. With the falling back into Dieppe of the British and French troops, covered by the mobile forces of the two French DLCs and the 3rd Armoured Brigade, who had a clear role. The men of the Royal Tank Regiment knew that there was no chance that their tanks would be lifted off by the navy. They were therefore keen to make the most of them while they could. There was only so much fuel and ammunition, but since they couldn’t take it with them, they decided to not to waste it.

As the elements of the 5th Panzer Division and 2nd Motorised Division pushed north they began to encounter resistance about ten miles from Dieppe, the 7th Panzer Division headed for the coast at Veulettes-sur-Mer to cut off the roads to le Havre. The 11th Motorised Brigade, with the German 57th and 31st Infantry Divisions pushed forward from the east of the River Bresle, but they were delayed by D Company of the 4th Border Regiment and A Company of the 1st/5th Sherwood Foresters. Orders for the withdrawal failed to reach these two companies and in default of orders to move they stood fast. For six days they held on, denying for that week the passage of the river which they had been ordered to guard.

Dieppe was a relatively small port, but the Royal Navy had got plenty of experience, and once more the RAF did their best to cover the evacuation. The French also provided small craft to lift the troops, and these were generally taken to Trouville and unloaded there. The British ships crossed the channel to Newhaven to unload their evacuees. Over two days and nights British and French ships collected first the supply troops who had fallen back first, then the engineers, signallers, artillery men who’d exhausted their ammunition and then spiked their guns. The infantry, whose pull back had been supported by the tanks, started being picked from the docks on 10 June.

The British A10, being the majority of the RTR tanks, found themselves in a favourable situation. While slower than the Panzer II and IIIs, their frontal armour was fairly well protected against the German 20mm and 37mm cannons except at close range. On the other hand, the 2-pdr gun on the British tanks was deadly to the German tanks at a good distance. The men of the Royal Tank Regiment were nearly all pre-war professionals, and so far, their war had been a frustration. Now they worked together with some of the Territorial Division’s Carrier Platoons to hold up the German advance, and fall back towards the town. Eventually the cavalrymen of 2e DLC and 5e DLC acted as the rear-guard, which allowed whatever surviving tank crews of 3rd Armoured Brigade and 1st Lothian and Borders Yeomanry, and the last of the infantry to fall back to Dieppe and be carried home. As the cruiser and light tanks burned, the promise of new and better tanks awaited them at home. The A9 and A10 had been considered as stopgap tanks, until the fast Christie Cruisers could make up the numbers. A lot was going to be learned from the battle of France, the survival of most of the men of the 1st Armoured Division, but not their tanks, would prove to be crucial. The A13s hadn’t covered themselves in any glory, but the lessons learned were in the people who were carried home on the ships of the Royal Navy.

On 11 June, seeing that all the crews of 1st Armoured Division were back in Britain, all the surviving cruiser and light tanks that had been gathered at Louviers for repair were loaded onto to trains for Nantes, where they would be shipped back, along with their fitters and mechanics of the Armoured Corps. They could be repaired at leisure at home, and so by 18 June the entire First Armoured Division were back in England, the workshops filled almost 100 tanks, a mixture of Lights and Cruisers which had been loaded at Nantes and sailed to Southampton.

NB Text in italic differs from OTL. The primary difference here is the decision on 6/7 June to look at evacuation, then it being ordered on 8 June, and implemented 9/10/11 June from Dieppe, a better port and with less pressure. The presence of an armoured Brigade to support the 51st Division, as opposed to a composite regiment, is the other main difference. As to the last points, a good percentage of 1st Armoured Division men did make it back to Britain, and so did a few of their tanks. After the Germans crossed the Seine the survivors just made their way back to Cherbourg, losing most of their tanks to mechanical breakdowns. Here, the 100 tanks that were under repair are shipped back, which is a much better return on what actually happened. There is a fundamental weakness of the French army command, witnessed by Weygand's order to stand on the Bresle and delay in allowing IX Corps to pull back to Le Havre, leading to their complete loss. No matter how much more battered some of the Panzer Divisions are, is still as likely to lead to the capitulation. A slightly better showing by British armoured formations aren't going to change that. The good news is that this marks the end of this chapter in the annals of the Royal Armoured Corps.
 
Last edited:
Top