Wednesday, May 31, 2017

The German Blunder at Dunkirk

The German invasion of Western Europe was militarily stupendous.  they scored a significant success.  First Poland was forced to surrender.  the British and French supported Poland, but only from a distance.  they were not prepared for an offensive campaign.  Hitler wanted to attack France and Britain, but was convinced to wait, and develop a new plan for invasion.  This would include invasion of Holland and Denmark.  Another group would keep the Allies occupied at the Maginot Line, while a third group, with most of the armor would attack to the north.  This group attacked through the forest and hills of Ardennes.  This area was such an unlikely place to attack, it was not well defended.  This group flanked the Allied forces, and cut them off.  They then turned north to confront them directly.  The Allied forces were now surrounded on three sides, and trapped in a pocket around Dunkirk.  The Belgians indicated they were close to surrender.  The British commander called for an evacuation by sea.  The Panzers stopped outside Dunkirk to regroup for the final battle.  However Hitler gave the job of finishing off the British to the Luftwaffe.  Hermann Gohring had requested this honor to prove the might of German air power.  The evacuation rescued hundreds of thousands.  The final blow could not be administered from the air.  The British did suffer heavy losses, but not near as disastrous as it could have been.  Many ships were sunk, including private ships and merchant ships which were pushed into action.  Eventually the rescue was limited to night time action.  The Royal Air Force extracted a toll form the Luftwaffe.  The Allied losses included over 170 aircraft and over 200 ships.  Also 50,000 prisoners.  Total in men killed included almost 70,000 British, and over 300,000 total casualties.  338,000 men were evacuated, including 140,000 non British.
By the numbers, this was  a tremendous German victory.  However the British army lived on to fight another day.  Had Hitler deployed the Panzers, the result would have been even more lopsided.

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