WI: French press Saar Offensive

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: After 1900' started by Equuleus, Jan 6, 2011.

  1. Equuleus Well-Known Member

    Jan 30, 2008
    United States of America
    Even if the French seize the Rhineland, the Germans losing it doesnt knock them out of the war. The Rhur is mostly to the east of the Rhine too.
    The Generals won't coup Hitler although it will make him look like he screwed up. If the French are able to seize the Rhineland before the Germans show up in force, then I think the major German push of 1940 would be to kick them out and not the invasion of French proper... hmmm 1941 invasion of France brings up a lot of interesting butterflies.
  2. arctic warrior Scandinavian die-hard

    Jan 10, 2006
    Didn't metion the Rhuhr though but the Rhineland was quite important in 1936 to Hitler etc. Think the Germans will find he screwed up.

    Guess the Germans will be just as good at getting across the Rhine as the French would.

    If the Germans should succeed in kicking the French out - and I don't imagine much kicking rather slugging, do remember armoured tactics are still in the infancy and the Germans would need a plan or two on how to get across the Rhine AND how to proceed from there.

    The fighting in Germany may allow the Allies for weeding out some misfits like single engine bombers. And make for a breather to build modern French fighter aircraft like Bloch 152-155 and Dewoitines 520.

    A French airforce in 1941 would be a nasty thing to the Luftwaffe.
  3. von Adler Generallöjtnant

    Jun 21, 2005
    Stockholm, Sweden
    The Polies mobilised according to plan - all their 37 divisions, 11 cavalry brigades, 3 reserve mountain brigades and 2 mechanised brigades were fully mobilised when the German attacked, as was the Obrona Nardowa (Home Guard).
  4. DaleCoz Well-Known Member

    Apr 18, 2007
    Chicago area
    Can you give a source on that? I've read several places (including a couple of Zaloga books) that the Poles never got fully mobilized, that a third of their army never mobilized. My understanding is that approximately one-fourth of the Polish army was actually mobilized and in its assigned position at the time of the attack, though some additional troops were mobilized and on their way to the front.

    Given Poland's primitive transportation network, estimates of how long it would have taken them to fully mobilize are in the two months range. That means they would have had to start mobilizing at the beginning of July to attain the level you're claiming. They did call up some additional troops under various pretexts during the summer, but they were nowhere near full mobilization based on any source I've seen.
  5. DaleCoz Well-Known Member

    Apr 18, 2007
    Chicago area
    My understanding on the Saar offensive is that the French intention was to close up with the German forces and launch a small offensive by start of war plus a week, with the main offensive to start approximately two weeks after start of war. The delay for the main offensive was pretty much necessary to get troops mobilized and then in position (a two-step process--something that most people overlook).

    The Allies (joint French/British decision) postponed the main offensive around day ten or eleven because the Polish position had deteriorated so quickly. That wasn't an irrational decision given what the Allies knew at the time. The quick demise of much of the Polish army appeared to mean that the Germans would be in a position respond to a Saar offensive by switching troops west and pouring through Belgium. In that case, advancing into the Saar would have been a very bad idea, a good way to get major forces pocketed.

    If the Allies had known how close the Germans were to running out of ammunition and how much damage the Polish campaign was doing to their truck supply they would have probably pressed on with the offensive and I don't see any way the Germans could have stopped them. The German economy of September 1939, without the booty of manpower and resources they later got, was probably not capable of keeping up with the munitions requirements of a full scale war. If a month of war with Poland almost ran them out of all of the stocks of ammo they had built up since 1933, plus the Czech stockpile (I assume they accessed that--does anyone know?) then a real battle with France would have been unsustainable for the Germans at the time.

    Historically, the Allies gave them almost eight and a half months (October 1939 to May 10,1940) to rebuild ammunition stocks and the Germans put most of their resources into doing that.
  6. von Adler Generallöjtnant

    Jun 21, 2005
    Stockholm, Sweden
    I don't have any English-text online documents to prove it, unfortunately.

    However, the Polish armed forces were parted in three echelons;

    1. The regular army.
    2. The home guard (Obrona Nardowa)
    3. The reserves.

    Many other nations created one or more war-time divisions out of one peace-time division. However, the Poles preferred to have high-quality units with plenty of equipment rather than more, but weaker units. They also considered the stocks of equipment they did have (they started from scratch 1920) and their production facilities as well as manpower needs in the agriculture and industry and thus decided not to try to raise reserve divisions. Instead, their plan called for a full flesh-out of the peace-time units, raising the home guard to allow the field army to go whereever it was needed and use the reserves to replace losses in existing units rather than raise new ones.

    The western allies looked at the total number of military trained Poles and assumed the Poles could raise ~80 divisions, something the Poles could not, and never planned to do either. I suspect this western allies assumption is behind the idea that the Poles never fully mobilised.
  7. Mostlyharmless Well-Known Member

    Aug 23, 2008
  8. Commissar Banned

    Sep 23, 2009
    So many misconceptions here I don't know where to begin.

    Any case:

    German Forces West Sept. 1:

    34 Regular Divisions plus two brigades.

    Nine Reserve divisions arrived on September 10.

    French Forces:

    Order for Mobilization went into effect September 3.

    13 Divisions manned the Maginot Line.

    14 Divisions manned the Mareth Line in North Africa.

    Nine were on the Italian Border.

    Seven were available for field operations and a few battalions screened the Spanish Frontier.

    The balance of the French Military were reservists who took three weeks to mobilize.

    The British wouldn't have a corps in France till October 3rd.

    The Germans were not short of Ammo.

    The French lacked mine detectors and specialized engineering equipment.

    It is interesting to note that the Siegfried Line was a shadow of itself when the Allies attacked it in late 44 early 45 and suffered a bloodbath to punch through it with specialized engineering equipment and delayed action fuses which the French also lacked.

    Hell the Allies carpet bombed the shit out of the Siegfried Line and caused little real damage to it. Germans didn't even notice it.

    The French aren't punching through without a POD way earlier that gives them specialized equipment that enables them to grind through.

    The Magniot Line did its job. It channeled the Germans into Belgium as intended where the Allies who had more Armored Divisions, more tanks, and greater mechanization intended the fight to take place.
  9. von Adler Generallöjtnant

    Jun 21, 2005
    Stockholm, Sweden
    Note how much of monthly production the Polish campaign ate. It was also a minor campaign compared to the west 1940. The Germans could not sustain a another campaign, especially if they are still fighting the Poles in the Romanian bridgehead, which probably would be the scenario if the French are attacking (Stalin will keep still, awaiting the result).

    Of the German divisions in the west, only 11 were fully manned and equipped, the rest making do with untrained conscripts and either ww1 artillery or no artillery at all. The heavy artillery that existed was static and there were no tanks, almost no planes, no motorised units and very few AT guns.

    The Siegfried line was the kind of line the French, with their pre-calculated artillery doctrine and methodic battle plans were organised to break through. What are the Germans going to do against Char B1bis tanks? Mostly nothing.

    If Gamelin had been willing to break through he could have, but he was focused on his decisive battle in Belgium.
  10. Grimm Reaper Desperate But Not Serious

    von Adler, in fact, under Anglo-French pressure, the Poles cancelled a mobilization they had already ordered and then had to cancel the cancellation, which did wonders for their military readiness for several key days.
  11. euromellows Pro-Praetor Donor

    Nov 19, 2007
    Perth, Western Australia
    There's no doubt that we in the west (excluding usa) let our polish and czech allies down. I can certainly understand their bitter feelings against the western betrayel.

    Some posters have stated that Germany would not be able to resist much at all in this scenario. In that case how far can France advance? Berlin by christmas?

    If France wins the war within a few months her prestige will be very high and she will probably see fit to reorganise germany to prevent the same thing happening 3 times. The post war period will be interesting.

    Another question, does stalin annex the baltic states and conduct the winter war in TTL?
  12. oberdada Präsident des Welt- und Erdenballs

    Jan 5, 2006
    And Moscow in Christmas '40...
    Hitler and Stalin were allies after all ;-)
  13. euromellows Pro-Praetor Donor

    Nov 19, 2007
    Perth, Western Australia
    I doubt Stalin or the Western Allies will go that far. In OTL they were 'allies' when the winter war began. Yes there was debate amongst the allies about supporting Finland directly but it never happened. Stalin is not stupid and is averse to major risks. If the French army smashes the Germans early in the war I wouldn't be surprised if the Winter War is butterflied away in TTL. Don't know about the baltic states though, or moldavia for that matter.
  14. carlton_bach Member

    Jan 18, 2004
    Altona, Occupied Denmark
    Without a viable doctrine and working logistics, tanks and planes do not really make your warfare that much more mobile. I suspect the Germans would be able to put up resistance once they'd gotten over the shock of having their bluff called. Their troops in the west were neither the best equipped nor the elite, but they were real soldiers, not blow-up dolls. Many of their NCO cadre were ex-Reichswehr or WWI veterans. They knew how to build machine-gun nests, trenches and artillery emplacements, and the French staff had no interest in fighting the expensive end of a trench battle. Most likely the advance would continue for a while - how long really is the deciding factor, but I can't see more than a hundred miles or so, which is a lot already. Then the French will stop pressing the attack home because resistance stiffens, and both sides settle in for the hard slog. The Wehrmacht is not going to collapse because it is forced to fight the war it planned for rather than the ridiculously lucky strike it got. But the Nazi government well might.
  15. euromellows Pro-Praetor Donor

    Nov 19, 2007
    Perth, Western Australia
    Draft and rough timeline:

    March 1939 - Hitler orders the neutralisation of Czechslovakia as a state and annexes Czech as the protectorate of Bohemia-Moravia. Slovakia is given independence and is made a de facto German puppet.

    The Munich Pact is humiliated and French foreign minister Georges Bonnet prestige suffers in particular. Relations between Bonnet and French Premier Eduoard Daladier were never particularly good and in an attempt to bolster his flagging popularity Daladier sacks the foreign minister and assumes this portfolio himself. (This is the POD, in OTL Daladier foolishly retains the cowardly Bonnet whilst taking over more of his functions).

    Part of Daladier's reason for keeping Bonnet in Cabinet (against his better judgement) was to keep an eye on his political dealings. Bonnet had well known ambitions and Daladier figured if he wasn't in Cabinet he would try to destabilise his government. In TTL Daladier's caution is vindicated and Bonnet begins a campaign to discredit him fiercely. He successfully (and fairly) manages to partially implicate Daladier with his own failing. Before long calls are being made for the removal of Daladier and he does his best to weather the crisis.

    Britain's guarantee of Polish independence does little to stiffle the opposition. Daladier is between a rock and a hard place - the pacifists under Bonnet hate him for his rearmament and the hardliners hate him for his pacifism and abandonment of Czechslovakia.

    Paul Reynaud, Finance Minister, is a growing popular figure for the right. Although his personality is abrasive his radical economic policies have helped return confidence to the French economy and he is a known hardliner against Germany. In mid April, after resisting weeks of pressure to directly challenge, he makes a deal with the opportunistic former Prime Minister Pierre Laval who controls many votes on the right. Despite his growing popularity Reynaud narrowly wins the challenge by one vote. (copied OTL's result, but that was after the Finnish Winter War and the Fall of Poland. I'm compensating with a bitter Bonnet challenging and an opportunistic Laval)

    Despite Reynaud abolishing the 40 hr week as Finance Minister (a hallmark of Blums France) much of his support comes from the socialist parties. This is easily explained by their hatred of Daladier and the opposition of TTL Bonnet. The right supports Reynaud's stance against Germany much more then Daladier's hybrid rearmament/appeasement policies. Reynaud is forced to retain Daladier in Cabinet as his Minister for War. In addition he honours his deal with Laval who returns to Cabinet as Finance Minister.

    Reynaud shares his antipathy with Britain regarding Russia, particularly with the purges of their army. As a result in TTL he does not devote many resources to attempting to build an alliance with them. He does however build stronger relations with Poland. In July he is able to replace Maurice Gamelin as Chief of Staff of the Army with Maxime Weygand. Reynaud never had any confidence in Gamelin's abilities and Weygand is considered a popular figure on the right. Also the myth of Weygand saving Poland from Russia in the 20s reason into his thinking.

    Reynaud also takes an interest in Colonel De Gaulle's armoured division proposals and encourages their organisation in the army. He is rebuffed by the French High Command who do not see any value in them. Additionally Daladier (on the advice of Weygand) argues against them.

    One thing that set Reynaud apart from his colleagues (and his British allies) was his abandonment of any long term war strategies. In OTL he actively encouraged expanding the war to other fronts including Norway and the Balkans, and did not favour sitting behind the Maginot Line waiting for an attack). In TTL he commits to Poland an immediate western offensive in the event of war with Germany.

    When August comes around tensions in Europe are frightful. Poland and France partially mobilise in response to German and Soviet negotiations which logic dictates concerns Poland. London desperately tries to get the Poles to back down from their mobilisation to not provoke Germany but Reynaud backs them to the hilt. He knows war is inevitable and that delay is death.

    August 23: When the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact is made public France and Poland fully mobilise. Neville Chamberlain recalls Parliament and signs war powers in effect, he partially mobilises the nation on a war footing. He also provides an iron clad guarantee to Poland that they will assist in the event of invasion.

    August 25: Hitler delays his invasion by five days after he receives a telegram from Mussolini which states he will not honour the pact if Poland is attacked. He also hoped Chamberlain's government would fall after the MR Pact.

    September 1: Germany begins their invasion of Poland with the Battleship Scleswig-Holstein opening the first shots of the war. France immediately declares war and Reynaud orders the invasion of Germany begin as soon as possible.

    Norway, Sweden, Switzerland and Finland declare their neutrality.

    September 2: Stiffer then expected resistance is experienced by the Germans in Poland. The Polish army has managed to mobilise a lot more of their army then OTL, however, they are still being pushed back ruthlessly.

    General Weygand orders the Saar Offensive in the Rhine valley on the western front. The OTL plan called for an immediate offensive three days after full mobilisation was called (this has already occurred). A full all out offensive was planned 15 days after full mobilisation which in TTL will be 7 September.

    The French Army advances eight kilometres and captures 20 German villages with no resistance. They halt at the Warndt Forest, heavily mined German territory.

    Spain and Ireland declare their neutrality.

    September 3: Britain, Australia and New Zealand declare war on Germany. British liner SS Athenia becomes the first civilian casualty of the war after being torpedoed by the German navy.

    September 4: Nepal declares war on Germany.

    September 5: The USA declares their neutrality

    September 6: South Africa declares war on Germany.

    September 7: French Premier Paul Reynaud orders General Weygand to carry out the planned Saar Offensive. At their disposal the French Army has roughly 40 divisions. This includes 3 mechanised divisions, 78 artillery regiments, 40 tank battalions and an armoured division under the command of Charles De Gaulle. Facing them is 22 German divisions with fewer then 100 artillery pieces and few armoured fighting vehicles.

    The Saar Offensive commences at 0618 and immediately runs into strong German resistance. Despite many of the German divisions being manned by reservists, many of the officers are veterans from WWI and as such have dug in with machine gun positions. Ironically the French army is trained for this sort of fighting and despite a slow advance both sides take heavy casualties.

    September 8: On hearing of the French offensive in the west the Polish armies morale improves. Despite the good news Polish troops at the Westerplatte garrison are forced to surrender after a heroic defence for 7 days. They had run out of food and supplies. As a sign of honour the Polish commander is allowed to keep his sword on surrender.

    After heaving fighting on the western front the bulk of the German army retreats to what is available of the Siegfried Line. Despite the German propaganda before the war much the Line is incomplete and many of the positions are overrun by the French army. However those sections that are complete resist heavily and the leadership of the German army inflicts heavy casualties on the cautious French.

    Marshal Edward Rydz-Smigly, head of the French Military mission to Poland, informs the Polish government that the French are engaging the Siegfried Line and look poised to breach it.

    September 9: The Polish Poznan Army launch a fierce counterattack under General Kutrzeba. The initial attack goes well, particularly with the improved morale of the Polish army.

    The French Army continue to engage the Siegfried Line. General Weygand reports the resistance is not as fierce as expected and the Germans appear to be refraining from armoured counterattacks.

    September 10: Canada declares war on Germany

    September 12: A major portion of the Siegfriend Line is cut off after the French army take position in incomplete areas. Charles De Gaulle's armoured division encircles a retreating force and manages to capture 300 soldiers in a few hours.

    German General Siegfried Westphal, Staff Officer Western Front, reports to Berlin the French Army is poised to open a major breach in their defences. He reports the Western Army can only resist for a further week due to a severe lack of supplies, including ammunition. (this is consistent with his statements OTL).

    Hitler is furious and orders a consolidated defence. He is resistant to withdraw the army from Poland until they are crushed. Senior Officers in the Wehrmacht note Hitler's gamble has not paid off.

    September 15: Forward elements of the German panzerkorps take up positions outside Warsaw. The world is stunned by the rapid progress made by the Germans, but the desperate supply situation on the western front is not well known outside Germany.

    September 19: The French Offensive begins to gain momentum when it becomes clear the German resistance is petering out. The Siegfried Line is breached and pocketed in many sections after German units simply run out of ammunition. Those soldiers that can escape do so and the German Army effectively abandons the Siegfriend Line.

    General Weygand reports that the Line has been breached and the French army begin to secure the Rhineland province.

    September 20: Retreating German forces destroy bridges in their retreat across the Rhine where they hope to make a further stand. The Luftwaffe heavily bombs the advancing French army but is unable to prevent the capture of the Rhineland.

    Charles De Gaulle is promoted to Brigadier as he demonstrates his daring by capturing many retreating German units. In the confusion of the retreat many thousands of straggling Germans are captured.

    September 21: The Polish Poznan pocket collapses and it is estimated the Germans capture over 150,000 men. This is a major victory for the Wehrmacht who have become somewhat demoralised by the losses in the West. Fortunately many elements are able to retreat to the city of Warsaw which is in danger of encirclement.

    A/N: More to come later. My wife has just interrupted and reminded me I have other duties. I'll try to update tomorrow or Saturday if there is any interest.
  16. von Adler Generallöjtnant

    Jun 21, 2005
    Stockholm, Sweden
    The French DLMs were full armoured divisions, not mechanised divisions.

    Otherwise a very good TL.
  17. MerryPrankster Well-Known Member

    Jan 10, 2004
    Good TL. Keep it up!
  18. Evan Life, Liberty, and Pursuit of Happiness!

    Oct 13, 2010
    Quiet Resistance, People's Republic of Cascadia
    Are you sure Hitler would still go ahead with his invasion on schedule, despite the French looking much stronger and more menacing than iOTL?

    But great timeline; keep it up!
  19. neopeius Well-Known Member

    Sep 7, 2009
    Love it! Vive la France!
  20. euromellows Pro-Praetor Donor

    Nov 19, 2007
    Perth, Western Australia
    Thanks for the replies, greatly appreciated.

    I think Hitler would still go ahead. The German economy needed war or it would spectacularly crash. Hitler reportedly was hoping that someone wouldn't come out of the blue and offer a peace deal - he wanted war. It is true that he was supremely confident of the west's inaction and that Chamberlain, Daladier and Bonnet (the supreme cowardly diplomat) played right into his hands by delaying the inevitable. I can sympathise with Daladier to a point, he vacillated on any major decision but he knew Hitler was evil and was buying more time. Bonnet on the other hand was willing to sell out all of his allies up to the last moment if it meant peace. Reynaud presented the perfect candidate to lead France at that time, unfortunately in OTL he came in far too late.

    I think in TTL Hitler will still push the war (he really can't afford not to) and will concentrate on Poland. It makes sense to knock them out as quickly as possible. With the MR Pact signed with Russia he has even more reason to concentrate on them. His neglection of the western front is a giant gamble, but then so were many of his most successful actions up to that point.

    Unfortunately for Hitler in TTL, both Poland and France have acted prudently and mobilised their forces much earlier then in OTL. Certainly not unreasonable given the circumstances.


    September 22: The last defensive position held by the Polish army preventing the encirclement of Warsaw collapse under a ferocious German attack. The Germans demand the immediate surrender of Warsaw but they are refused. The siege of Warsaw begins.

    September 23: The French Army secures the city of Cologne and the Rhineland region. Commanding German Officer Major General Ernst Scholz surrenders the city intact in defiance of Hitler's orders to fight street to street. A furious Hitler orders that not an inch of German soil should be abandoned and any soldier found guilty of betraying the Fatherland will be shot.

    Former German Chief of the General Staff General Ludwig Beck meets with several other leading German Army Officers, politicians and civil servants including General Halder, Dr. Hjalmar Schacht, Carl Goerdeler, Admiral Wilhelm Canaris, and Colonel Hans Oster about the possibility of staging a putsch to overthrow the Nazi regime.

    French Premier Paul Reynaud urges General Weygand to continue the offensive to put pressure on the German Polish front.

    September 24: A desperate attempt to relieve the Polish city of Warsaw ends in a crushing defeat for the Polish army.

    The French obtain evidence which appears to indicate the extent of the German supply crisis - their initial interrogation of prisoners also corroborates what they have been finding. Despite the evidence General Weygand is cautious and skeptical. Premier Paul Reynaud insists on an immediate further offensive across the Rhine. General Weygand draws up plans for an attack into the Ruhr region on the east of the Rhine.

    German defences are also probed further south across the Rhine in the Baden-Wurttemberg region where resistance is fierce. German defensive lines are still intact and their ability to defend suggests the supply situation is not so desperate as once thought.

    September 25: General Weygand orders a further offensive across the Rhine into the Ruhr region. Despite his reservations that the French Army is moving too fast he is under immense pressure from Premier Reynaud to conduct an offensive. Whilst there is reason to believe the Germans are suffering supply shortages, he does not believe it is to the extent suggested by some of his other officers.

    The offensive coincides with a major Polish counterattack aimed to relieve the siege of Warsaw. The French plan is to provide overwhelming force at a specific point from which they can begin to breakout and secure a stable front. At 0400 French artillery guns begin their concentrated bombardment at predefined points along the front. Within hours a moderate French force is established in force on the opposite bank but they immediately come under pressure from the German army.

    Despite overwhelming French superiority in terms of artillery bombardment the Germans are able to prevent a breakout of the French due to their combination of dive bombing and infiltration tactics. The German dive bombers act as a form of artillery that pummels the French force and leaves them vulnerable to massed Infantry attacks. The German infantry then withdraw when they become too exposed and await the next wave of dive bombing. Communication problems also exacerbate the problem for the French and it isn't longer before the offensive becomes a disaster. After suffering severe casualties for no gain General Weygand is forced to abandon the offensive.

    September 26: The Anglo French Supreme War Council gathers for the first time in Paris. The speed of the war has left the British stunned and at this point in time the British Expeditionary Force has not yet arrived in France. The current success of the campaign is purely a French affair and as such their opinions tend to dominate the council.

    As a result of the failed offensive across the Rhine, General Weygand concludes that the German Army remains well supplied and is prepared for a defensive war across the Rhine. His intention is to consolidate their gains in the Rhineland and await the arrival of the British Expeditionary Force before launching a further major offensive aimed at capturing the Ruhr and Westphalia regions. It would be preferable to launch the invasion in 1940 in the spring.

    Although the cautious British endorse this view, his own High Command is not unanimous. General Gaston Billotte (commander 1st Army Group), General Alphonse Joseph Georges (commander 2nd Army Group) and Brigade General Charles De Gaulle are particularly critical. These Officers are able to present their views to Reynaud as he insists on hearing alternatives, much to the dismay of Weygand.

    These officers draw different conclusions from the failed offensive, even amongst themselves. General Billotte believes the Germans don't have a supply problem, but he believes they do have a gun problem. They are reliant on the air force to provide their artillery support because they lack the guns. He believes a sustained air superiority mission by the air force, coupled with the transport of anti-aircraft guns to the area would allow the French army to attempt to force a landing again. For this he believes it would be necessary to attack not sooner then 2 weeks after a sustained air and anti-air campaign. This timeframe would allow the first of the BEF to be used as well.

    General Georges and Brigade General De Gaulle however believe the Germans are in fact in desperate circumstances now. They both believe they need to push an offensive immediately. They agree with General Billotte's conclusions that the Germans are reliant on their air force to provide artillery support, and therefore it is necessary to attempt a 'broad strategic offensive plan'. In essence they plan to launch multiple simultaneous attacks across the front to overwhelm Germany's ability to effectively target a single point. When one of the attack positions is able to establish a stable defensive position, that point would be reinforced with further troops and heavy equipment. From that point on the French army would attempt a break out.

    Reynaud appears receptive to this plan, however he faces opposition from General Weygand. Against his own inclination he gives in to General Weygand's objections and agrees to adopt his more cautious plan. Weygand after all has served admirably with his capture of the Rhineland. Reynaud is able to successfully push the British to provide greater fighter coverage in the region and limited elements of Billotte's plan is adopted.

    September 27: The German conspiracy to remove Hitler from power is advanced. The situation is desperate on the western front and many of the conspirators know a sustained attack from the allied forces would result in a collapse. There is support from many senior officers in the Wehrmacht but the plot relies on men with nerves of steel. Despite the gravity of the situation on the western front the plot is delayed.

    September 28: The major Polish counterattack to relieve Warsaw ends in abject failure with the total collapse and capture of several divisions of the Polish Army. By now the city of Warsaw has been under siege for 7 days and the Polish High Command are convinced they cannot break through to relieve Warsaw and as such put their hopes on the French Army in the west.

    Field Marshal Edward Rydz-Smigly orders Polish troops fighting east of the Vistula to withdraw to the Lwow and then to the Hill regions bordering Romania. Roughly 21 divisions retreat to take up defensive positions in what is dubbed 'the Romanian bridgehead'. The area is served with natural defensive barriers, including swampland, hills and the styrj and dniestr rivers. The region is also home to many ammunition dumps and is linked to the Romanian port of Constanta. The intention is to hold out until the French are victorious. Except for a few small instances the Polish Army will not act offensively for the duration of the war.

    This intention is communicated to France where Field Marshal Rydz-Smigly famously quips, 'All eyes are on Paris, all hope with the sons of Napoleon!'.

    French Premier Reynaud hesitates and reconsiders adopting Generals Georges and De Gaulle's plan.