World War II Day by Day - Page 13 - Politics Forum.org | PoFo

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The Second World War (1939-1945).
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#15312928
Potemkin wrote:Most people, most of the time, have only the vaguest, tangential contact with reality. Facts don’t really matter very much to them; they simply find them confusing. Feelings are all that really matter. The song was anti-German - “the Siegfried Line” sounds German and was something the Germans seemed to care about. That was good enough for your average Tommy Atkins, @Rich. :)


Aha who is Tommy Atkins? Is he like John Doe?
By Doug64
#15312930
Tainari88 wrote:Aha who is Tommy Atkins? Is he like John Doe?

"Tommy Atkins" was the name given to your generic late Victorian-age British infantryman. There's a poem by that name by Rudyard Kipling included in my favorite poems file.
#15312931
Doug64 wrote:"Tommy Atkins" was the name given to your generic late Victorian-age British infantryman. There's a poem by that name by Rudyard Kipling included in my favorite poems file.


Never heard of that name. But that does not surprise me I never was into Victorian-age British infantryman.

The only thing I remember from Rudyard Kipling was this part that was made into that movie from Disney.

What is the real story of The Jungle Book?
Origins. The stories in The Jungle Book were inspired in part by the ancient Indian fable texts such as the Panchatantra and the Jataka tales. For example, an older moral-filled mongoose and snake version of the "Rikki-Tikki-Tavi" story by Kipling is found in Book 5 of Panchatantra.
By Doug64
#15312932
Tainari88 wrote:Never heard of that name. But that does not surprise me I never was into Victorian-age British infantryman.

The only thing I remember from Rudyard Kipling was this part that was made into that movie from Disney.

I remember that cartoon, I enjoyed it as a kid.

I was wrong, the Kipling poem is just titled "Tommy"

I went into a public 'ouse to get a pint o' beer,
The publican 'e up an' sez, "We serve no red-coats here."
The girls be'ind the bar they laughed an' giggled fit to die,
I outs into the street again an' to myself sez I:
O it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, go away";
But it's "Thank you, Mister Atkins," when the band begins to play
The band begins to play, my boys, the band begins to play,
O it's "Thank you, Mister Atkins," when the band begins to play.

I went into a theatre as sober as could be,
They gave a drunk civilian room, but 'adn't none for me;
They sent me to the gallery or round the music-'alls,
But when it comes to fightin', Lord! they'll shove me in the stalls!
For it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, wait outside";
But it's "Special train for Atkins" when the trooper's on the tide
The troopship's on the tide, my boys, the troopship's on the tide,
O it's "Special train for Atkins" when the trooper's on the tide.

Yes, makin' mock o' uniforms that guard you while you sleep
Is cheaper than them uniforms, an' they're starvation cheap.
An' hustlin' drunken soldiers when they're goin' large a bit
Is five times better business than paradin' in full kit.
Then it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' Tommy, 'ow's yer soul?"
But it's "Thin red line of 'eroes" when the drums begin to roll
The drums begin to roll, my boys, the drums begin to roll,
O it's "Thin red line of 'eroes," when the drums begin to roll.

We aren't no thin red 'eroes, nor we aren't no blackguards too,
But single men in barricks, most remarkable like you;
An' if sometimes our conduck isn't all your fancy paints,
Why, single men in barricks don't grow into plaster saints;
While it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' Tommy, fall be'ind,"
But it's "Please to walk in front, sir," when there's trouble in the wind
There's trouble in the wind, my boys, there's trouble in the wind,
O it's "Please to walk in front, sir," when there's trouble in the wind.

You talk o' better food for us, an' schools, an' fires, an' all:
We'll wait for extry rations if you treat us rational.
Don't mess about the cook-room slops, but prove it to our face
The Widow's Uniform is not the soldier-man's disgrace.
For it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' Chuck him out, the brute!"
But it's "Saviour of 'is country" when the guns begin to shoot;
An' it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' anything you please;
An' Tommy ain't a bloomin' fool - you bet that Tommy sees!
#15312933
Doug64 wrote:I remember that cartoon, I enjoyed it as a kid.

I was wrong, the Kipling poem is just titled "Tommy"

I went into a public 'ouse to get a pint o' beer,
The publican 'e up an' sez, "We serve no red-coats here."
The girls be'ind the bar they laughed an' giggled fit to die,
I outs into the street again an' to myself sez I:
O it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, go away";
But it's "Thank you, Mister Atkins," when the band begins to play
The band begins to play, my boys, the band begins to play,
O it's "Thank you, Mister Atkins," when the band begins to play.

I went into a theatre as sober as could be,
They gave a drunk civilian room, but 'adn't none for me;
They sent me to the gallery or round the music-'alls,
But when it comes to fightin', Lord! they'll shove me in the stalls!
For it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' "Tommy, wait outside";
But it's "Special train for Atkins" when the trooper's on the tide
The troopship's on the tide, my boys, the troopship's on the tide,
O it's "Special train for Atkins" when the trooper's on the tide.

Yes, makin' mock o' uniforms that guard you while you sleep
Is cheaper than them uniforms, an' they're starvation cheap.
An' hustlin' drunken soldiers when they're goin' large a bit
Is five times better business than paradin' in full kit.
Then it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' Tommy, 'ow's yer soul?"
But it's "Thin red line of 'eroes" when the drums begin to roll
The drums begin to roll, my boys, the drums begin to roll,
O it's "Thin red line of 'eroes," when the drums begin to roll.

We aren't no thin red 'eroes, nor we aren't no blackguards too,
But single men in barricks, most remarkable like you;
An' if sometimes our conduck isn't all your fancy paints,
Why, single men in barricks don't grow into plaster saints;
While it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' Tommy, fall be'ind,"
But it's "Please to walk in front, sir," when there's trouble in the wind
There's trouble in the wind, my boys, there's trouble in the wind,
O it's "Please to walk in front, sir," when there's trouble in the wind.

You talk o' better food for us, an' schools, an' fires, an' all:
We'll wait for extry rations if you treat us rational.
Don't mess about the cook-room slops, but prove it to our face
The Widow's Uniform is not the soldier-man's disgrace.
For it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' Chuck him out, the brute!"
But it's "Saviour of 'is country" when the guns begin to shoot;
An' it's Tommy this, an' Tommy that, an' anything you please;
An' Tommy ain't a bloomin' fool - you bet that Tommy sees!


Is that common for London English to be dropping the H sound at the beginning of 'eroes'? A lot of H sounds are dropped completely. That is very British isn't it?
By Doug64
#15312934
Tainari88 wrote:Is that common for London English to be dropping the H sound at the beginning of 'eroes'? A lot of H sounds are dropped completely. That is very British isn't it?

IIRC, Kipling was going with cockney, east London working-class.
By Doug64
#15313086
April 23, Tuesday

New tax puts up the cost of beer and cigarettes


British taxpayers are called up in a big way for the war effort today. In Parliament, Sir John Simon, the Chancellor of the Exchequer, announces budget proposals for higher income tax and surtax. He also increases duties on tobacco, beer, spirits, and matches and announces higher postal and telephone charges.

On top of all that there will be a novel new “Purchase Tax” on the sale of most goods not already heavily taxed. Exactly how it will work has still to be decided. The standard tax rate will be 7/6 per £ (37.5%), and surtax starts on the income of over £1,500 ($6,000) a year instead of £2,000. Cigarettes will now cost 1/5 (7p/28¢) for 20, and beer is up to a penny a pint while whiskey will cost 16/- (80p/$3.22) a bottle.

The rate for a three-minute telephone trunk call will be 1/2 (6p/24¢) above fifty miles. There will be a basic charge of 9d (4p/15¢) for nine words instead of 6d, and greetings telegrams will cost 1/- instead of 9d. Sir John explains that this War Budget is intended to curb spending. He warns that when peace returns the government will take effective action against those making “colossal war fortunes.”
By Doug64
#15313643
April 27, Saturday

More women to do German war work


The German Employment Ministry today drafts a confidential program to make registration compulsory for all women aged 15 to 40. As a result, many women who have never been employed and so not registered with an employment office will become available to work in industry.

How women will react to the measure is uncertain since a woman’s pay for any given job is, on average, only 80 percent of what a man would get. And the idea of general compulsory employment for women is opposed by some senior Nazis, such as Goering, because it runs counter to the Nazi doctrine of women as domestic creatures.
By Doug64
#15313708
April 29, Monday

Empire’s air training scheme takes off


A plan to train 20,000 aircrew in Canada as part of the Empire’s war effort is set to take off. The deal with Britain is said to impose a “staggering responsibility” on Canada, where 40,000 experts are needed to teach flying at 58 centers. The first opens next month at Camp Borden, where the first qualified pilots will be kept as instructors. Observers and air gunners will also be trained under the deal signed by the Prime Minister, William Mackenzie King, and Lord Riverdale. Australia hopes to provide some 10,000 aircrew each year for the RAF; although some RAAF squadrons are joining the fight as complete units, it seems the Australian role will be as a training service for the RAF. Other significant help is coming from Rhodesia and individual Americans.

Britain’s Air Ministry first proposed a Commonwealth Air Training Scheme before 1939, but ironically, the Canadians were unenthusiastic. The outbreak of war has rapidly changed people’s minds.
By Doug64
#15313805
April 30, Tuesday

Heavy aerial bombardment forces Allied retreat


The Allied adventure in Norway has failed to prevent the Germans from advancing, and singularly failed to achieve its main objectives—the ejection of the Germans from Narvik and Trondheim.

Instead, the ill-prepared force is subject to continual dive-bombing by Stukas and, with neither anti-aircraft guns nor artillery (they were left behind on embarkation), is steadily retreating in front of General von Falkenhorst’s troops which are pushing up from Oslo to link up with General Eduard Dietl’s 169th Mountain Division in Narvik and Trondheim.

The British generals face a formidable opponent in Dietl, a superb commander. Their troops are no match for his tough Alpine companies, which, though outnumbered, are easily holding off halfhearted and poorly organized Allied attempts to dislodge them.

Fleet Air Arm has key role for Allies

As the German advance into Norway continues, Allied resistance depends increasingly for air cover and reconnaissance on the Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm. Mountainous terrain ashore and German occupation of the populated south have made this an air-sea campaign, and Norway is beyond the range of RAF fighters from Scotland. The answer is the Fleet Air Arm’s Blackburn Skua dive-bombers and Roc fighters. The Skua carries its 500-pound bomb in a nose-down power dive from 11,000 feet to 2,000 feet in 25 seconds before releasing it onto the target, usually an enemy ship. On April 11th Skuas hit German vessels in Trondheim fjord and then sank a cruiser offshore. The Roc, with a rear gunner, is a slow but reliable fighter useful for aerial reconnaissance.

Despite its successes on land, Germany has suffered setbacks at sea. Before Oslo was taken the shore battery helped destroy one cruiser, the Blucher. At Narvik, ten destroyers are lost for two British ships. The loss of vessels on this scale greatly reduces Hitler’s scope for a seaborne assault on Britain.

Hitler plans his attack on Western Europe

Confident that he will soon be able to see off the Allied forces in Norway, Hitler today turns his attention to the planned offensive in Western Europe. He tells General Alfred Jodl, the Chief of Staff to Field Marshal Keitel, and other military commanders to be prepared to launch operations on May 5th, or within 24 hours of any later day.

The Dutch and Belgian governments have received intelligence reports of an imminent German attack through the Vatican, which has been alerted by German officers opposed to Hitler’s plans. Intercepts of the Vatican messages, decoded by the Germans, have been shown to Hitler. He intends to go ahead notwithstanding.

Nazi thugs herd Jews into ghetto

SS thugs have established a total reign of terror over Jews in Lodz, Poland. Women have been forced to dance naked at gunpoint, and all Jews are forced to wear armbands with the Star of David. The SS set fire to the synagogue and summoned the fire department—to stop the fire from spreading to other buildings. Jews have been herded into a ghetto which at midnight tonight will be sealed off.

The ghetto is one of the most rundown areas of the city, comprising 32,000 mainly one-room apartments, only 700 of which have running water. Into these cramped and unsanitary conditions the Nazis have kicked, beaten, and prodded 160,000 people.
By Doug64
#15313891
May 1, Wednesday

Ireland seeks US aid in maintaining its war neutrality


In a desperate move to remain out of the war, the Irish government appeals today to the United States to guarantee its neutrality. Ireland—the only Commonwealth nation that hasn’t rallied to the Allied cause—chose neutrality when it considered its position shortly before the outbreak of war.

The cool attitude of the Prime Minister, Eamon de Valera, to the British cause and his refusal to allow British convoy escorts to be based in Irish ports have infuriated many British politicians, so much so that there is a genuine fear of a British invasion in Dublin. Equally, the possibility of a German invasion isn’t being ruled out.

Although Washington is unlikely to offer a formal guarantee, the Irish-American lobby is a powerful political force in a country whose support is vital to Britain.

Britain has appealed to de Valera to join a defense union with Northern Ireland. The former British detainee is unlikely to cooperate. The Irish government is being markedly active against the IRA, however, with Irish garda cooperating with British police in the hunt for terrorists. Despite de Valera’s views, thousands of his countrymen are crossing the Northern Ireland border to volunteer for the British forces, so Britain will likely refrain from hostile moves.
By Doug64
#15314115
April 5, Friday

Chamberlain: Hitler has missed the bus


Britain’s Prime Minister tells a Conservative Party meeting today that after seven months of war he feels ten times as confident of victory as he did at the start. In this unusually buoyant mood, Mr. Chamberlain says, “One thing is certain. Hitler has missed the bus.”

The speech appears to be aimed at dispelling some signs of public impatience about the conduct of the war. Mr. Chamberlain recalls that Germany was turned into an armed camp in the years before the war while Britain postponed rapid rearmament so long as any hope of peace remained.

He goes on, “It was natural then to expect that the enemy would take advantage of his initial superiority to make an endeavor to overwhelm us and France before we had time to make good our deficiencies. Is it not extraordinary that no such attempt was made?”

Having made his point, he declares, “Whatever the reason, Hitler has very little margin of strength still to call upon.”
#15314150
Doug64 wrote:April 5, Friday

Chamberlain: Hitler has missed the bus


Britain’s Prime Minister tells a Conservative Party meeting today that after seven months of war he feels ten times as confident of victory as he did at the start. In this unusually buoyant mood, Mr. Chamberlain says, “One thing is certain. Hitler has missed the bus.”

If the French had been their usual warlike selves in 1940, he would have been right.

The speech appears to be aimed at dispelling some signs of public impatience about the conduct of the war. Mr. Chamberlain recalls that Germany was turned into an armed camp in the years before the war while Britain postponed rapid rearmament so long as any hope of peace remained.

He goes on, “It was natural then to expect that the enemy would take advantage of his initial superiority to make an endeavor to overwhelm us and France before we had time to make good our deficiencies. Is it not extraordinary that no such attempt was made?”

I agree with this.

Having made his point, he declares, “Whatever the reason, Hitler has very little margin of strength still to call upon.”

Events were soon to prove that this statement fell rather short of being prescient. But no-one could have predicted how events would play out. Which is the fundamental problem with wars in general, in fact. :hmm:
By Doug64
#15314599
May 7, Tuesday

George Lansbury, Labour leader, dies


The pacifist George Lansbury, Labour Party leader from 1931 to 1935, dies today aged 81. Lansbury had many critics but no enemies. He was the “Cockneys’ MP” for Bow and Bromley for thirty years and a former mayor of the East End borough of Poplar. As First Commissioner for Works in the first Labour government in 1924, he introduced swings and sandpits for children in London parks. He resigned the leadership in 1935 after Ernest Bevin, the union leader, attacked him for “hawking his conscience” around the land when preaching against war and rearmament.
By Doug64
#15314744
May 8, Wednesday

Prime Minister toppled by House of Commons debate


“You have sat too long for any good you have been doing. Depart, I say, and let us have done with you. In the name of God, go!” With devastating effect, Leo Amery, one of the most senior Tory MPs, tonight quotes in the House of Commons those angry words used by Oliver Cromwell to the Long Parliament in the 17th century.

Mr. Amery points at the prime minister as he utters them. It is the most dramatic moment in the tumultuous two-day debate on the disastrous Norway campaign.

In the vote at the end, the government’s majority is reduced to 81 from a normal figure of over 200. Some forty Tories, including former Cabinet members, vote with the opposition parties against Mr. Chamberlain. A large number of other Tories deliberately abstain from voting.

Most MPs now feel that a change in premiership must be imminent. Ahead of the critical vote, Chamberlain petulantly snapped, “I have got my friends in the House.” He soon discovers how many of them desert him when he faces what is, in effect, a vote of no confidence.

As the shaken Prime Minister leaves the House, Harold Macmillan and a few other Tory rebels sing the opening bars of Rule Britannia while others chant “Go, Go, Go!”

There were startling moments before that. Admiral of the Fleet Sir Roger Keyes, a Tory MP and hero of the last war, arrived in the House in full uniform with six rows of medal ribbons on his chest. He denounced Mr. Chamberlain and volunteered personally to lead another naval assault on the enemy in Norway.

As First Lord of the Admiralty, Mr. Churchill stoutly declared that he took the fullest share of responsibility for the Norwegian campaign. David Lloyd George, Prime Minister in the last war, told him, “Don’t allow yourself to be converted into an air raid shelter to keep the splinters from your colleagues.”
By Rich
#15314798
Doug64 wrote:He resigned the leadership in 1935 after Ernest Bevin, the union leader, attacked him for “hawking his conscience” around the land when preaching against war and rearmament.

For a long while I used to get my Bevins and my Bevans muddled up.

Just going back to the Norway thing. Although I made a joke of Churchill's plan, it was absolutely the right policy. Churchill's contempt for international law was wonderful to behold. The US was a non belligerent ally of Britain and France. By the same token the Soviet Union, Finland, Sweden, Norway and Denmark were non belligerent allies of Nazi Germany. Churchill was right to give no truck to Norwegian sovereignty.
By Doug64
#15315036
May 10, Friday

British troops land to occupy Iceland


Following the German invasion of Denmark, British troops have made an unopposed landing to occupy the Danish colony of Iceland, which declared itself independent of the Danes last month. The occupation of this strategically important island, which has no defense force, preempts German hopes of using it as a submarine or air base from which to attack Allied convoys.

There is a calm mood in Iceland at the moment, but there is some covert sympathy for Germany. The “Tommies” believe that they can break the ice.

Germany’s Blitzkrieg comes to the Low Countries

It is a war that has never been imagined. These invaders from the east are no foot-slogging infantrymen with rifles and bayonets. Instead, bombing planes come out of the pale dawn sky, striking at airfields and crippling the tiny Dutch and Belgian air fleets. Parachutists come down to seize bridges and destroy river defenses. Airborne troops in gliders strike at Rotterdam, The Hague, and the supposedly impregnable Belgian fortress of Eben Emael (see below). Stuka dive-bombers spread panic as they come screaming down to soften up the defenders. When the ground forces appear, they are heavier Panzers with 37mm guns. Hitler’s Blitzkrieg has come to the Low Countries.

Brussels and The Hague have long known that the Fuhrer intended to attack but, fearful of provoking him, they have refused all cooperation with the British and French armies manning defenses on the border to the west. Now desperate appeals for help have gone to London and Paris. But there are no illusions in the pocket state of Luxemburg, tucked between Belgium and Germany; the Grand Duchess Charlotte is in headlong flight.

Despite detailed contingency plans, the British and French response has been indecisive. The British are laying mines in the Rhine and, to halt the Germans, are demolishing Dutch and Belgian port installations at the mouth of the Scheldt. But some 15 percent of France’s frontline troops are on leave. The commander of the First Army Cavalry Corps, General Rene Prioux, who should have been leading the advance into Belgium, is some fifty miles (80 kilometers) away on target practice; the first he knows of hostilities is when German bombs begin falling near his lodgings at St. Quentin.

By noon, the Dutch have fallen back to their Fortress Holland positions, screening Amsterdam, Rotterdam, and The Hague, but the Germans are already holding Rotterdam airfield. The Belgians are no better off: paratroopers have landed between the first and second echelons of the Belgian 7th Division holding the Albert Canal. Hitler’s 200,000-strong force, backed by 3,000 aircraft, is annihilating the Dutch and Belgians, who lack armor and air power.

German glider team captures Belgian fort

The Germans capture the supposedly impregnable Belgian fortress of Eben Emael in a daring coup de main operation. The guns of this fort, situated between Maastricht and Liege, threatened the advance of the German Sixth Army into Belgium, so it had to be captured, but its massive concrete walls and other defenses presented a problem. The Germans built a replica and, after months of study, came up with the perfect solution.

At dawn, 42 gliders, towed by Ju52 transports, fly over the Belgian border. The bulk of the force seizes nearby bridges, but ten gliders land on top of the fort of Eben Emael itself. Seventy-eight parachute engineers jump out and immediately attack the gun emplacements from above, whereas its defenders are prepared for assaults from below. To overcome the thick concrete, they use specially designed hollow charges. The guns are quickly destroyed. The totally surprised 1,100-man garrison withdraws to the complex network of passages and chambers under the fort, and efforts continue to winkle it out, but the way ahead for the German army is now clear.

Roadblocks delay Allied reinforcements

Allied troops begin crossing into Belgium soon after 7 am today, but the deployment is erratic. When French troops arrive by rail at the Belgian border, there are no Belgian locomotives to haul them. Also, the Belgians have failed to remove the frontier roadblocks and the French are held up for an hour or more on demolition work. The British 3rd Division, commanded by Major General Bernard Montgomery, is held up by a Belgian officer who demands to see a permit for the British to enter. Finally, the British ram their way through with heavy trucks. Still, by midnight Allied cavalry and light armored divisions have reached the planned defensive line running east of Brussels down to Namur in the south.

With thirty French divisions, nine British, and the bulk of the 22 Belgian, the Allies are greatly superior to the thirty German divisions on this front, though the Luftwaffe is poised to seize air supremacy. The Germans believe, however, that the Allies have walked into a trap without realizing it. “I could weep for joy,” Hitler cries when he hears of the Allied advance.

Churchill heads coalition government

Neville Chamberlain, who resigned as prime minister two days ago, tonight advised the king to send for Winston Churchill to form a new government. Mr. Churchill, who has emerged as the most credible candidate to lead the war effort, is immediately summoned to the Palace. He tells the king that he will build an all-party team to achieve ultimate war victory. In addition to being prime minister, Mr. Churchill will act as Minister of Defence. He will have a small War Cabinet. Mr. Attlee and Mr. Arthur Greenwood, the leader and deputy leader of the Labour Party, are at the Admiralty House late tonight discussing the allocation of posts with them. Some trade union leaders will be brought into the government.

Mr. Chamberlain had hoped to remain in office despite his huge humiliation in the House of Commons the night before last. His decision to quit came only after Mr. Attlee told him that Labour’s national executive had decided that the party should join a coalition only if there were a new Prime Minister—and only if that new Prime Minister is Churchill, rather than Lord Hallifax, the Foreign Secretary. On getting this daunting news, Chamberlain called a special Cabinet meeting and said that he must resign immediately in view of the swift deterioration of the war situation with Germany’s invasion of Holland, Belgium, and Luxemburg.

Mr. Chamberlain broadcasts to the nation this evening. He discloses that Mr. Churchill has asked him to be a member of the new War Cabinet; he has agreed. Mr. Chamberlain also says with a tremor in his voice: “As long as I believed there was a chance of preserving peace honorably I strove equally hard to wage it with all my might.” However, the probable verdict of the nation now is that he never looked like a great war leader. Tonight Britain is praying that it now has one in the pugnacious Winston Churchill.
By Doug64
#15315178
May 11, Saturday

Dutch foil Nazi plan to seize their queen


A daring plan to occupy the airfields around The Hague, seize the capital, and kidnap Queen Wilhelmina has been foiled by Dutch forces. Recovering from their early disarray when parachutists landed, Dutch infantry, backed by artillery, have driven the Germans from the three airfields.

This has saved the queen and the government but has tied down substantial Dutch reserves, which are badly needed in the Amsterdam and Rotterdam sectors. The German 18th Army, under General Georg von Kuchler, has taken intact bridges over the Meuse; one company actually splashed down on the river at Rotterdam in ancient seaplanes.

At 13:00, the Germans, having penetrated the Dutch defenses, contact General Henri Giraud’s 7th French Army at Tilburg near the Belgian border. The French, who were to have linked up with the Dutch, found they have already retreated. Left to fend for himself and lacking air support and anti-aircraft and anti-tank guns, Giraud is forced to retreat back to Antwerp. This opens the way for the 9th Panzer division to thrust towards Rotterdam and relieve airborne troops holding the bridges across the river there. But the Dutch are holding firm and Hitler has ordered forces from the Belgian front to move against the Dutch. “Resistance must be broken speedily,” he says.

The exiled German kaiser, Wilhelm II, who lives at Doorn, is offered asylum in Britain by Churchill. He rejects the offer, and a few hours later Hitler’s Panzers overrun his home.

Allies form new line—but in the right place?

In a desperate attempt to create an effective command structure, Edouard Daladier, the French War Minister, Gaston Billotte, the C-in-C of the 1 Army Group, and Sir Henry Pownall, the BEF Chief of Staff, are meeting King Leopold at the Belgian GHQ near Mons.

Yesterday evening, two divisions, one British and one Belgian, were ordered to occupy the Louvain sector, and 24 hours later, the confusion has still not been sorted out. General Prioux, advancing to the Gembloux Gap between the Dyle and Meuse rivers, reports: “There are no real trenches, no barbwire, practically nothing.” He ends dismally, “The enemy won’t give us time to dig in.”

Despite the command confusion and disarray caused by the enemy’s bewildering speed of maneuver, the Allies are confident that they will have established a continuous defensive line within the next 48 hours.

This will extend from the mouth of the Scheldt, north of Antwerp, southeast to Louvain, where the nine British divisions are taking up positions, then to Wavre and Namur on the Meuse, where two Belgian divisions with fortress artillery are in place.

This line offers good defensive positions, but the situation suddenly looks alarming south of the Meuse. General Heinz Guderian has debouched from the woods of the Ardennes with a large force of Panzers. Are the Allies massing on the wrong front?

France braces itself for Nazi attack

General Gamelin has set up his command post on the outskirts of Paris because—as he says—he wants to be close to the government while escaping the atmosphere of the capital. He has delegated responsibility for field operations to General Alphonse Georges. Georges has his GHQ at La Ferte-sous-Jouarre, 35 miles (56 km) east of Paris, but remains for much of the time at his residence twelve miles (nineteen km) away. The general staff officers are at a third HQ at Montry, between Vincennes and La Ferte. The French air force HQ is at Coulommiers, some ten miles (sixteen km) from La Ferte.

Gamelan remains quietly confident. Of the 104 divisions at his disposal, he has put 31, including nine British, on the northern left flank, and these have advanced into Belgium. On the right flank, behind the Maginot Line, he has 44 divisions. In reserve, he has 22 divisions. The general says: “I feel sure we can stop the Germans.”

Others, however, are less certain. Colonel Charles de Gaulle, who has just been given command of an armored division which, he says, doesn’t yet exist, finds Gamelin’s HQ as hushed and peaceful as a convent. There is no teletype link with the field armies and no radio. Gamelan keeps in touch by driving from Vincennes to the other HQs and is content that 48 hours is all that is needed for orders to reach his commanders.

Gamelin’s confidence rests on the Maginot Line, superiority over the Germans in artillery (11,200 guns against the Germans’ 6,000), and equality, at least, with the Germans in tanks. However, the tanks are dispersed as small infantry support groups, unlike the Panzers, deployed in strength for lightning blows. French artillery, mostly horse-drawn, lacks mobility.

For Gamelin, the only cloud on the horizon is a message he has just received, telling him that Belgian forces, under heavy German pressure, are pulling back behind the line of the Meuse between Liege and Namur. In fact, the Belgians are carrying out a secret decision, made last January, not to risk even a delaying action in the Ardennes.

Italy still keeps out of encroaching war

Despite constant urging by Hitler, Italy continues to pursue a course of neutrality—although many observers believe that, sooner or later, Mussolini will take advantage of Allied setbacks to enter the war. The Duce has never dropped his ambition to turn the Mediterranean into an “Italian lake.”

The bulk of the Italian press has become increasingly vociferous and pro-Nazi, with glowing accounts of German victories in France and Norway. Mussolini’s propaganda machine claims that Britain’s Royal Navy is largely obsolete and no match for his impressive array of battleships participating in well-publicized Adriatic exercises.

For all his bombast, Mussolini is aware that his country—with a coastline as long as Britain’s—is vulnerable to invasion and that British domination of the Straits of Gibraltar in the west and Suez in the east can effectively blockade imports to Italy.

German advances threaten the US, warns Roosevelt

President Franklin D. Roosevelt plans to warn a special joint session of the US Congress next week that the German advances in Western Europe mean that even the Atlantic Ocean is no longer a protection for the United States. He believes that aviation, parachute troops, and the “Fifth Column” now make the United States vulnerable to attack.

The president wants a mobile expeditionary force to be created and a program to expand and modernize the US armed forces. At present, the US Army is not one of the twelve largest in the world. Mr. Roosevelt would like the rate of production of military aircraft in US factories to be increased to 50,000 a year—and he will tell Congress not to interfere, as it did until recently by the terms of the Neutrality Acts, with arms deliveries to the Allies.
#15315186
Doug64 wrote:A daring plan to occupy the airfields around The Hague, seize the capital, and kidnap Queen Wilhelmina has been foiled by Dutch forces. Recovering from their early disarray when parachutists landed, Dutch infantry, backed by artillery, have driven the Germans from the three airfields.

This has saved the queen and the government but has tied down substantial Dutch reserves, which are badly needed in the Amsterdam and Rotterdam sectors. The German 18th Army, under General Georg von Kuchler, has taken intact bridges over the Meuse; one company actually splashed down on the river at Rotterdam in ancient seaplanes.

At this stage of the War, the Germans were roflstomping everyone. Those extra reserves could only have delayed the German conquest for a few days, or a week at the most, at the cost of losing the monarch and the government. Not worth it. The Dutch made the right call.
By Doug64
#15315191
Potemkin wrote:At this stage of the War, the Germans were roflstomping everyone. Those extra reserves could only have delayed the German conquest for a few days, or a week at the most, at the cost of losing the monarch and the government. Not worth it. The Dutch made the right call.

Absolutely, lose the government and the military likely rolls over. Doesn’t mean those few days can’t be crucial.
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