The War Illustrated No 39 Vol 2 May 31st 1940

568 The War Illustrated May U Lst, 1940 France’s Line Pierced by the Enemy Thrust ITWERgr OUNKIRI OFf U C S I O J jL J b our o u f Dungeness^ OOliiOCNI arr as* AMIENS Hetwtm is RtlMS PARIS. Breteuil .R oud.n MILES brrtux m This map shows successive stages o f the Nazi thrust from May 13 to May 21-22. In the early days o f the offensive the advance had a not point been stabilized and the positions indicated on each date must betaken as approx im ate ,showing only the lines o f the to -and -fro struggle. on the Aisne. And the bulge was getting bigger day by day, almost hour by hour. Drastic measures were called for if dis­aster were to be averted. Mr. Churchill went to Paris, wherein conference with the French chiefs means were devised for the common defence. The French armies were regrouped *and Britain’s magni­ficent air force, which had already estab­lished its mastery "over the Nazis, was flung into the fight against the ravaging tanks. In the north the Allied line was falling back in order to conform with the new situation, and Germany was jubilant over the Capture of Brussels and Antwerp. But though the situation was grave, Reynaud admitted in his broadcast to the nation on the evening of Saturday, May 18, it was by no means desperate. “It is in such circumstances as these,” To the hated enemy. The real war had come at last to the Western Front— the real war, not of fixed positions, but of a struggle in the open. There was no line nothing, indeed, in the nature of an established front. Over the French countryside roamed at large 2,500, or it maybe 3,000, German tanks— estimated to constitute at least half of the enemy’s tank divisions— in individual units, in small detachments, orin great masses. Furthermore, as the battle developed, tens of thousands of Nazi motor-cyclists, armed to the ceth, were dispatched to harry and ravage far in front of the main fight. By the end of the week a great bulge had been informed the Allied line be­tween Maubeuge and Sedan, outreaching into north-east France as far as Rethel he declared, “that the French people show what is in them.” He announced that he had called to his side Marshal Petain, the victor of Verdun and oil the following evening the world was elec­trified by the news that another of the triumphant figures of the Great War, General Weygand, had been appointed to the Supreme Command in place of General Gamelin. His appointment was widely hailed as an augury of victory, for Weygand was Foch’s closest collaborator in 1918 when the German hordes thunder­ing 011 the way to Paris were halted, and at length chased across the frontier. But at that moment it needed faith and vision to talk or think of victory. When M. Reynaud faced the Senate on May 21 his first words were “the country is in danger,” and he went onto tell how by a series of “incredible mistakes ”the bridges over the Meuse had not been destroyed, and when across these bridges there passed the German “Panzer ”(iron­clad) divisions they encountered nothing but French units w)io were “scattered, ill-cadred, and badly trained.” With the total disorganization of General .Corap’s Ninth Army the hinge of the French army had been broken. The Premier went onto tell how a huge breach had been opened in the front, and that already the Germans had penetrated as far as Arras and Amiens. “The truth is,” he went .on, “that our classic conception of' the conduct of war has come up against anew conception ”—one which combines the massive use o f heavy armoured divi­sions in cooperation with aeroplanes and the creation of disorder in the rear by means of parachute raids. As that black day dragged 011 there came news of still more disasters. General Giraud, newly-appointed commander of the French Ninth Army, was said to betaken prisoner by the Germans with the whole of his staff, and to the towns which had been reached by their advanced mechanized aWhile war o f move men twas being fo ugh tin Belgium and North -Eastern France by what was described by a French com men ta astor a “con­fusion o f tanks and a roe plan es,” there was also activity on the Maginot Line proper, where intense artillery duels took place, in this photograph* taken iust in front o f the Maginot Line, one o f these is in progress. In the foregrou n dis th every first line o f defen ace— barbed wire entanglement* Phnin. Keystone
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