Hitler informs his commanders
that the attack in the west will begin on the 17th January.
On this same day a German light aircraft makes a forced landing
at Malines in Belgium, near the German border. The planes occupants
were carrying details of the German plans, which alerted the
Belgium and Dutch governments to German intentions.
At the height of the cold weather spell
in Europe, 50° of frost is reported in some places.
Hitler orders the postponement of his
attack in the west until the Spring. Likely reasons for this
are the compromise of 'Fall Gelb' and increasing criticism from
some commanders that the plan was too predictable. Led by Gerd
von Rundstedt, they proposed instead that the main blow should
come through the wooded Ardennes region in southern Belgium
as the allies would not expect this.
The US Under Secretary of State, Sumner
Welles arrives in Berlin at the start of a peace tour of the
Hitler changes his plans for the invasion
of the west. At a military conference in Berlin, he decides
to adopt the plan put forward by Gerd von Rundstedt and his
former chief of staff, Erich von Manstein, for the Ardennes
option. Code-named ‘Fall Sichelschnitt’, it called
for the attack against the Low Countries to go ahead, but with
slightly fewer forces, in order to draw the allies forward,
while the decisive thrust would be mounted through the Ardennes.
Holding attacks would be made against the Maginot line.
Paul Reynaud becomes Prime Minister
of France, with Edouard Daladier being made Minister of Defence
State of Siege is extended to
the whole of Netherlands.
Inter-Allied Supreme War
Council meets in Paris at which both Poland and Norway are represented.
Hitler postpones X-Day
to the 6th May due to bad weather.
Hitler again delays X-Day, this time
till the 10th May.
All Dutch Army leave suspended.
Hitler orders 'Operation Yellow', the
great offensive in the West, to begin at 5.35am the next day.
At 5.35am, the Wehrmacht begins 'Operation
Yellow', the invasion of Holland, Belgium and Luxembourg, employing
Army Group A (von Rundstedt) and B (von Bock), with Army Group
C (von Leeb) in reserve. The attacking forces comprise 10 Armoured,
5 Motorised, and 75 infantry divisions. The 19th Panzer Korps
(Guderian), 20th Panzer Korps (Hoth) and the 41st Panzer Korps
(Reinhardt) field between them 2,445 tanks, most of which are
of the light Marks I, II, 35(t) and 38(t) type, against 3,373
French and British tanks. In his Order of the Day, Hitler declares,
"Soldiers of the Western Front! The battle which is beginning
today will decide the fate of the German nation for the next
thousand years. Go forward now and do your duty!" Airborne
troops seize airfields and strategic bridges near Amsterdam
and Rotterdam in Holland. The Luftwaffe, using hundreds of level
and dive bombers, attacks Allied airfields, troop assembly areas
and rear communications.
German troops occupy the Duchy of Luxembourg.
A glider-borne parachute detachment of 1st Fallschirmjäger
Regiment led by Hauptmann Koch and Leutnant Witzig captures
the "impregnable" Belgian border fortress of Eben-Emael.
French forces withdraw behind the Meuse
river between Dinant and Sedan as advance German panzer columns
push out from the Ardennes. Germans troops continue their advance
through Holland, crossing the Yssel and Meuse rivers at several
points. Massive German artillery bombardments are maintained
on western front, the Luftwaffe continues to reek havoc across
Northern France and Belgium, causing refugees to stream west,
clogging the roads for allied forces.
Supported by waves of Luftwaffe Stuka
dive-bombers, the two German Panzer Korps of Heeresgruppe B
establish bridgeheads across the Meuse river, tearing a 50-mile
gap in the French defences between Dinant and Sedan. The 7th
Panzer Division (Rommel) is the first division across. Dutch
troops withdraw to their second and final line of defence on
the Amsterdam-Rotterdam-Utrecht line.
Germans take Rotterdam as the Dutch
government arrives in London.
After the fall of Rotterdam, Holland
surrenders. The German 20th Panzer Korps (Hoth) repels a counter-attack
by French armoured forces, destroying 125 out of 175 tanks.
An attack by 6th Army (von Reichenau) against the Dyle line
in Belgium is repulsed. In Paris, panic breaks out over reports
of a German breakthrough at Sedan with thousands of civilians
fleeing the city for the west and south of the country, clogging
the roads for Allied military traffic which is attacked by Luftwaffe
bombers and fighter bombers.
The Germans try to enlarge Sedan pocket.
British troops withdraw from Louvain, west of Brussels as troops
of the German 6th Army break through the Allied Dyle line in
Belgium. Belgian government leaves Brussels for Ostend.
Brussels, Louvain and Malines in central
Belgium all occupied by troops of the 6th Army. Germans attack
further into N-E France; General Gamelin, French Commander-in-Chief,
gives allied troops ‘conquer or die’ order. French
prime minister Pierre Laval is replaced by Paul Reynaud who
forms a new government. Charles de Gaulle's newly raised 4th
Armoured division launches a counter-attack near Laon, which
is easily repulsed by the Germans.
Germans take Antwerp, Belgium’s
second city. Allied forces are seriously split as German tanks
of 19th Panzer Korps (Guderian) reach Peronne and Rommels 7th
Panzer Division reaches Cambrai during their rapid advance toward
the Channel coast. Amiens is occupied. Regions ceded to Belgium
in Treaty of Versailles (1919) re-incorporated into Germany.
General Gamelin is replaced by Maxime
Weygand as Chief of the French General Staff and C-in-C of all
theatres of operations. Marshal Henri Petain, the hero of the
First World War, is appointed as Deputy Prime Minister. German
troops of 20th Panzer Korps (Reinhardt) capture St. Quentin.
19th Panzer Korps (Guderian) completes
its advance to the Channel coast by capturing Abbeville and
Noyelles, thus separating the British Expeditionary Force, French
1st Army and the Belgian Army from the rest of the French forces
to the south of the river Somme. German reinforcements pour
into this split between the allied troops in northern France.
A British counter attack is launched
near Arras with armoured and infantry support against Rommel's
7th Panzer Division, throwing it off balance. A similar attack
in the south by a French armoured brigade under General de Gaulle
fails after initial success. The French Ninth Army is surrounded
and destroyed, its commander, General Giraud, taken prisoner.
The 19th Panzer Korps (Guderian) strikes
from Abbeville toward Boulogne, Calais and Dunkirk along the
Heavy fighting around Boulogne. Units
of the German 6th Army cross the Scheldt river at Oudenarde
Hitler halts Panzer drive on Dunkirk.
Infantry units of 19th Panzer Korps storm the citadel of Boulogne
and take 5,000 British and French prisoners. The French fortress
of Maubeuge surrenders, while 6th Army captures Ghent and Tournai
in Belgium and St Omer in North-eastern France.
The British garrison of Calais rejects
a German call for surrender. 15 French generals relieved of
Operation 'Dynamo' the evacuation
of British, French and Belgian troops from Dunkirk begins.
the command of Admiral Bertram Ramsay, hundreds of naval, commercial
and private vessels participate in this most desperate rescue
attempt. Calais falls to the Germans as they advance towards
Battle Plan] after Hitler's stop order is rescinded.
British position in Flander’s
worsens as King Leopold of Belgium surrenders the remnants of
Belgium formally surrenders to the
Germans. The British and French reject capitulation and continue
the evacuation and rearguard actions at Dunkirk.
German 6th Army takes Lille, Ostend
and Ypres in western Flander’s, Belgium. Luftwaffe activity increases
as Hitler orders the Panzers to be switched south ready for main battle
of France. 47,300 British and French troops are evacuated from
53,823 British and French troops are
evacuated from Dunkirk, bringing total landed in England since
May 27th to 126,606.
Defence of Dunkirk continues as 68,000
allied troops are evacuated. The French defence of Lille collapses.
Churchill fly's to Paris for a meeting of the Supreme Allied
War Council, the second time since the 10th May.
German onslaught continues
at Dunkirk as General Lord Gort, C-in-C BEF, returns from Flander’s
with another 64,400 troops who were evacuated off the beaches
this day. However, in future, the evacuation will only continue
during the hours of darkness due to the high losses of warships
to daylight air attacks.
26,200 British and French troops are
evacuated from the beaches today. Virtually all British soldiers
have now been evacuated and so the remaining French troops have
taken over the defence of the perimeter.
The last night of the Dunkirk evacuation
sees 26,700 French soldiers lifted from the beaches. This brings
the total rescued to 224,686 British, 121,445 French and Belgian
troops. Most of the French opt to return to France to continue
the fight. During the evacuation, more than 200 ships and 177
aircraft were lost (Germans lost 140 aircraft).
German troops enter Dunkirk, taking
40,000 French prisoners and huge quantities of abandoned equipment,
including 84,000 vehicles, 2,500 guns and 650,000 tons of supplies
The Germans begin 'Operation Red',
the ‘Battle of France’ with 119 divisions, including
10 Panzer division's. Army Group B, with 50 divisions, opens
the offensive against the French left wing which is anchored
along the Somme for 120 miles, in fortified positions known
as the Weygand Line, just 100 miles from Paris. Charles de Gaulle
is appointed as French Under Secretary of State for War.
German tanks in groups of 200-300,
break through French line in two places on Somme front and Rommel's
7th Panzer Division advancing to the West of Amiens, penetrates
20 miles into French territory. During these breakthrough's
the Germans suffer heavy losses at Amiens and Petonne.
Allied troops fall back on Bresles
front, 60 miles north of Paris.
German forces advancing South from
the Somme capture Rouen on the Seine. The British 51st Highland
Division and part of the French 10th Army withdraw towards St-Valery-en-Caux,
hoping to be evacuated to England.
The French government of Premier Reynaud
leaves Paris for Tours. German forces capture Rheims.
On the orders from General Weygand,
C-in-C of the French Army, the French forces opposing the advance
of Army Group A withdraw to the South, offering little resistance.
The Germans cross the River Marne, consolidate bridgehead South
of the Seine and claim to have occupied Rheims. Four French
divisions and most of the British 51st Highland Division is
cut off and captured by Rommel at St. Valery-en-Caux.
Germans troops advance on both sides
of Paris. General Weygand declares the French capital an ‘open
Germans enter Paris as Rommel's 7th
Panzer Division takes Le Havre. The French government leaves
Tours for Bordeaux. Army Group C, with 24 divisions, prepares
to cross the upper Rhine to attack the Maginot Line in Alsace.
All remaining British troops in France are ordered to return
Germans take Verdun. German forces
of the 7th Army cross Rhine and break into the Maginot Line
above Strasbourg. Weygand refuses to surrender French Army on
its own. 30,600 British and Canadian troops are evacuated from
Cherbourg, Brest and St. Malo.
French front cracking as the Germans
break through in Champagne to Dijon, with units of 19th Panzer
Korps reaching Besancon on the Swiss border. German forces,
supported by heavy artillery and Stuka dive bombers, continue
their assault against the Maginot Line on a broad front. The
French government of Paul Reynaud resigns and is replaced by
one led by Marshal Petain who immediately appoints Weygand as
Minister of National Defence. 57,000 British troops are evacuated
from Nantes and St. Nazaire.
German troops cross the Loire near
Orleans. Petain orders French to stop fighting and sues for
‘honourable’ peace terms.
French Army in general retreat as German
troops capture Le Mans. The garrisons of Belfort,
Metz and Dijon surrender. Hitler and Mussolini meet in Munich
to discuss French request for peace.
The Germans invite the French to send
a representative to discuss armistice terms as their troops
reach River Loire, advance on Lyons, capture Strasbourg, Brest
and Tours. Rommels 7th Panzer Division captures Cherbourg along with 30,000 prisoners.
German troops capture Lyons and the
vital port of Brest in Brittany. French envoys drive behind
German lines to receive armistice terms. Italian forces begins
an offensive along the Riviera coast into France.
Franco-German armistice negotiations
begin at Compiegne, during which Hitler informs the French representatives
of his terms in the same railway carriage as the German surrender
was signed in 1918. Hitler issues a proclamation announcing
the end of the war in the West and orders flags to be flown
throughout Germany for ten days.
Germans troops cross the River Loire
in strength as an armistice between France and Germany is signed
at Compiegne. Its terms are read out loud to the French delegation
by Generaloberst Keitel and provide for the occupation of the
entire Channel and Atlantic coastlines, all major industrial
areas, Alsace-Lorraine is to be returned to Germany. Most of
southern France will remain unoccupied, with a French administrative
centre at Vichy. The French Army and Navy is to be demobilised
and disarmed and France is to bear the cost of the German occupation.
All French prisoners of war are to remain in Germany until a
peace treaty is signed.
The German advance continues down west
coast of France. Pierre Laval is appointed as Vice-Premier,
while de Gaulle is cashiered by Weygand for announcing the formation
of French National Committee in London. Hitler makes a brief
sightseeing visit to Paris. Driving through nearly empty streets,
he makes a special point of viewing Napoleon's tomb, ending
his tour at the Eiffel tower.
British commandos make their first
raid against France is made at Le Touquet, although this is
aborted without casualties.
At 1:35am, all acts of war between
the French and German armed forces officially cease. Churchill
says France is not freed of her obligations.
British blockade of war materials and
food extended to whole of France.
German troops reach Franco-Spanish
Germans troops land on Guernsey in
the Channel Islands.
The French government
of Marshal Petain moves from Bordeaux to Vichy. Germany asks
the USA and other neutrals to withdraw diplomatic missions from
Belgium, Holland and Luxembourg.
Hitler orders preparation of 'Operation
Sealion', the plan for the invasion of Britain. Germans issue
casualty figures for French campaign as 17,000 killed, with
the French losing 1,900,000 as prisoners.
In direct response to the devastating
British attack on the French fleet at Mers-el-Kebir, Algeria, the Vichy
French government of Marshal Petain breaks off diplomatic relations
After spending 8 weeks in the west
supervising the German offensive, a triumphant Hitler returns
to Berlin and is cheered wildly by the population of Berlin.
Marshal Petain replaces President Lebrun
and proclaims himself ‘Chief of French State’ of
the French Republic. Admiral Raeder, C-in-C of the German Navy
expresses his reservations about any invasion of Britain.
Hitler issues Directive No. 15 outlining
the details of 'Operation Sea Lion', the German invasion of
the British Isles. In advance of the landings, the Luftwaffe
is to begin operations against British defensive positions,
airfields and radar installations along the southern coast of
England on the 15th August 15 with 2.600 aircraft having been
earmarked for this purpose. Hitler declines an Italian offer
to participate in the invasion of Britain.
Bastille Day in France declared ‘day
Hitler issues Directive No.16, orders
for the planning of 'Operation Sealion', the invasion of Britain.
Twenty divisions are earmarked for the invasion, but the Luftwaffe
must gain air superiority first. All plans are to be ready by
The German Army presents its plan for
the invasion of Britain. Six divisions are to land between Ramsgate
and Bexhill in the southeast corner of England, four will land
between Brighton and the Isle of Wight and three on the Dorset
coast. Two Airborne division's will also be deployed, with follow
up forces including six Panzer and three Motorised divisions.
Hitler makes triumphant speech to Reichstag
accusing the allies of war mongering and appeals to Britain
‘for the last time to reason’.
Red Cross estimates 5.5 million refugees
in Vichy France.
Reich Minster of Economics Funk outlines
‘New Order’ for Europe, with forced labour from
occupied countries. Compulsory evacuation of women and children
ordered from Gibraltar. Swiss Gen. Henri Guisan, commander of
all Swiss forces, reacts to an appeasement-oriented speech by
Federal President Marcel Pilet-Golaz by assembling 650 Swiss
military officers in the Field of Rutli - the birthplace of
Swiss independence - to make it clear the Swiss Army would resist
any German or Italian invasion. "As long as in Europe millions
stand under arms, and as long as important forces are able to
attack us at any time, this army has to remain at its post."
Pilet-Golaz and Berlin react with outrage, but Switzerland remains
Secretary-General of League of Nations,
Joseph Avenol, resigns.
All road and rail links between occupied
France and Vichy cut by Germans.
A German memorandum issued by the OKM
states that an invasion of Great Britain will not be possible
until the second half of September 1940 and that the prospects
for such an invasion seem doubtful.
Hitler appraised the Army plan for
the invasion of Britain at a conference of his top Military
chiefs. The Navy criticize the plan for being on a too broad
a front, requiring 2,500 barges in order to transport the
forces, which cant be concentrated before the 15th of September
at the earliest. The Army refute these arguments, saying that
too narrow a front would allow the British to concentrate what
forces they have.
Hitler signs Directive
No.17, requiring the Luftwaffe and Kriegsmarine to increase
their attacks against Britain and her shipping, in preparation
for 'Operation Sealion'.
French military court sentences de
Gaulle to death in absentia.
Anglo-Polish military agreement signed.
Churchill and de Gaulle agree over organisation of free French
forces. German government announces that in future all citizens
will need an Ahnenpass (Certificate of Ancestry) proving their
racial purity back to 1800.
Germans ban speaking of French in Luxembourg
and listening to BBC in Belgium.
Germany announces the total blockade
of Britain by sea and air. Axis financial meeting decides Berlin
will replace London as European financial centre after victory.
Weekly rations in Vichy
France now 4oz of sugar, 6oz spaghetti, 1.5oz rice and 3oz margarine
German invasion of Britain,
Operation Sealion, is set for the 21st September.
Hitler opens Winter Relief Campaign
with a speech claiming that ‘the last island in Europe
will be broken’.
Hitler decides to postpone operation
'Sea-lion until the 24th September.
Hitler again postpones operations 'Sea-lion'.
This time till the 27th September, the last day of the month
with suitable tides.
Hitler postpones Operation Sea-lion,
the plan to invade Britain, until further notice.
New rations announced in Vichy France
as 350g of bread, 300g of sugar, 50g of cheese, 360g of meat
per day and 100g of fat per week.
Court martial body set up in Vichy
France for crimes against the state; no appeal allowed executions
within 24 hours of sentencing.
Germany, Italy and Japan sign 10-year
pact in Berlin recognising ‘New Order’ in Europe
and Far East.
Hitler postpones invasion
of Britain until the spring 1941.
Churchill broadcasts to France, ‘Frenchmen
rearm your spirits before it is too late.’
Hitler meets Franco, the Spanish head
of state at Hendaye near the French-Spanish border. Franco declares
‘Spain will gladly fight at Germany’s side’,
but remains non-committal regarding Spain's entry into the war.
Hitler meets Petain at Montoire, which
leads ‘to agreement in principle of collaboration’,
but Petain rejects the idea of a Franco-German military alliance.
Laval becomes Foreign Minister of Vichy
On the anniversary of the
end of World War I, several hundred Paris students stage a disorganized
protest on the Champs Elysee over the arrest of a popular professor.
Although Gaullists in London report several deaths, it appears
no one was killed, but 123 students are arrested. Although it
is the first sign of organized anti-German feeling since the
armistice in June, German authorities report to Berlin that
the small size and unorganized nature of the protest demonstrates
that pro-Gaullist feeling is minimal.
trial in Vichy France indicts MM Blum, Daladier, La Chambre
and Gen. Gamelin.
Franco says Spain is not prepared to
Petain dismisses his Vice-Premier,
On Hitler’s orders, the body
of Napoleon’s son, “L’Aiglon” (the Eaglet),
is transferred from Vienna to the tomb of his father at Les
Invalides in Paris. Mussolini, laying claim to Napoleon’s
home of Corsica, objects in vain. Marshal Petain, who was expected
to be in Paris to formally “receive” the body of
“Napoleon II,” decides to stay away.