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On the 3rd September 1939 for the English the war started. This was because on the 1st of September Hitler invaded Poland. Britain & France gave an ultimatum to Hitler which meant they would declare war on Germany if Hitler did not start withdrawing troops within 24 hours.
In 24 hours, there was no withdrawal and so on the 3rd September Britain & France went to war against Germany. The Polish air force was taken entirely by surprise and most the Polish aircraft were destroyed while on the ground (the German bombers were that quick). The German Panzers caused large destruction and did well by avoiding any strong points.
After the fall of Poland not very much happens, a "Phoney War", "Bore War", "Sitzkrieg" (as this period was nicknamed), until April 1940 when the Germans took Norway. (There was minimal resistance by the British and the French).
- ˝ million French troops in Maginot Line
- The French relied on their horses! This was so out of date, they were simply mown down by machine guns. The French planning was that of the 1st World War.
- French Governments came and went and so the French were without a government which could make good military planning.
- The Maginot Line had air conditioning and other luxuries “The Shield of France”. It reached the Belgium border but not the German one. When the Germans attacked France they were still in the process of extending the Maginot Line.
- French military planning was entirely defensive because of the loss of life in the First World War.
- French military call up was very efficient. France was not going to war united. The ministers were thinking of themselves and not their country.
- There was only 1 French offensive in the entire war. The news commentators of the day did not doubt the French at all.
- Life at the front was unpleasant and leave became an obsession for the French soldiers. The winter of 1939 was the coldest for ˝ century. The French paused work but the Germans ploughed ahead.
- The French Commander rarely bothered to inspect let alone meet his soldiers.
- The French had no radios or telephones.
- On May 10th 1940 the Germans began a major offensive. Amazing air attacks were launched on Holland.
- There was destruction of large amounts of Allied aircraft on the ground near Rheims.
- The Battle started at 5:30 am May 10th the Germans invaded from Holland over the air.
- The French commanded half his force and the entire British Expeditionary Force straight into the German trap.
- The Luftwaffe struck allied planes on the ground.
- 50 British and French air fields were attacked that day, heavy losses.
- The Germans came over water.
- May 14th, the Allies finally realised the crossing of the Murs was important and the Allies lost almost half of the aircraft they put into action that day.
- French Commander In Chief replace, 68 year old replaced by 73 years old.
- Recalled previous Prime Minister - 84 years old, Petain.
- Refugees fleeing France, at one point more than 20,000 people on the roads.
- The Germans advanced 200 miles in 7 days, they destroyed lines of communication between London and Paris.
- The British retreat because they don’t want their army stuck in a country which has fallen. All the Channel Ports are being taken by the Germans.
- 6 destroyers and over 200 craft were destroyed
- 330 thousand British and French troops
- Dunkirk surrendered on June 4th, thousands of troops could not be rescued.
- German aircraft attempted attack on the RADAR stations on August 13th 1940.