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Battle of France and Low Countries 80 years ago today

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"Fall Gelb kicks off with massive Luftwaffe raids on neutral and Allied airfields at dawn. Most have warning but a few are caught by surprise.

 

Defending French fighters down a confirmed 38 German aircraft while losing 12 fighters in the air and another 44 aircraft on the ground.

RAF fighters down 14 Germans while losing 15 in the air and 32 aircraft on the ground.

Data on the Dutch and Belgians is less precise, but the majority of the Aéronautique Militaire Belge aircraft are destroyed on the ground or in the air over the next two days. 22 Belgian Fiat CR-42s are destroyed on the ground this morning and several Hurricanes are downed while attempting to take off. Belgian Gloster Gladiators, CR-42s, and Hurricanes take heavy losses in the air as well. Belgian aircraft shoot down a confirmed three Bf-109, three Bf-110, two Do-17, and two He-111.  (Note the props on the Hurricanes)

 

127025970_BelgianHurricanes.jpg.fb95cbdb08352ab0a346e01149f1c2c2.jpg

 

A Luchtvaartbrigade (Dutch Army Aviation Brigade) squadron of Fokker G.I heavy fighters is destroyed on the ground with only one plane repairable. The Dutch fly more sorties per plane today than any nationality including the Germans, suffering heavy losses. German fighter pilot claims of aerial victories alone exceed the entire operational strength of the Dutch Air Force, but the Luchtvaartbrigade is reduced by more than half. Elderly Fokker C.V and C.X biplane reconnaissance bombers are committed to attacks on German ground formations, and Dutch air power will be effectively destroyed within three days.

Nine Bf-109s are strafing the airfield at De Kooy, unaware that eight Fokker D.XXI are lining up to attack. The German speed advantage is negated in the turning dogfights that follow as the surprised Messerschmitt pilots have to cover the Heinkel-111s of 4. Kampfgeschwader bombing the field. The more maneuverable Fokkers down five Bf-109s for no losses, though several of the D.XXIs are damaged. Several Heinkels are also downed, mostly by AA fire. The Germans claim 35 aircraft destroyed on the ground, though everything except for aircraft undergoing overhaul and some trainers had gotten aloft.

 

Dutch fighters shoot down 18 Ju-52s and prevent landings at Ypenburg airfield near The Hague, foiling German plans to capture the Dutch Royal family, government & military leadership. A follow-on flight of Ju-52s lands troops to hold the airfield itself.

 

(Dutch Fokker D.XXI)

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Thank you for sharing! Indeed, 10 May is a sad but important day.  I was particularly impressed by the accounts of the Royal Netherlands Air Force against overwhelming odds.  Kind of reminded me of accounts of the few US Army Air Forces P-36 and P-40 pilots who were able to get in the air to fight the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.  Probably never happen due to lack of commercial viability, but it would be wonderful to see some of the air battles you described modeled in a BoX: Great Battles module using the NW Europe map.

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One of those Dutch pilots over De Kooy airfield was Bob van der Stok. He later made his way out of occupied Holland to

Britain and joint the RAF (Sqn 41). Shot down in July '42 he ended up in Stalag Luft and became part of

The Great Escape, being one of the three that succesfully escaped. He reached Britain again (through Gibraltar) May 20th 1944.

He flew a number of missions over Normandy with his old unit. He then flew some courier flights from an airstrip just to the south of Paris

to London (to Gen Eisenhowers headquarters meeting the General twice in the proces).

Later he became Squadron Leader of 322 (Dutch) Squadron flying from Schijndel and Twente airfields in the closing months of the war.

Ending at the airfield of Cloppenburg.

 

Bob van der Stok on the left, May 10th 1940 at De Kooy airfield.

 

DeKooy Stok Grave Bosch.png

De Kooy airfield was attacked a number of times. Here we see pilot Jan Bosch after his plane was hit during rol out.

 

DeKooy Jan Bosch.png

 

Bob van der Stok (right) sitting on an knocked out German armoured vehicle at the end of WWII.

 

DeKooy Van Der Stok.png

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"With Stukas increasingly being given maritime strike missions, tactical ground support falls more onto the Hs-123 which gives excellent support when the Germans have air superiority, being as accurate as the Ju-87, basing closer to the front, quicker to rearm, and able to use rough strips. During this period Henschels fly more missions per day than any other aircraft, and missions by Henschels are often misattributed to Ju-87s in histories.

Most importantly for the Germans, ground commanders can call directly on dedicated air assets that are standing by. The British and French ground commanders have to follow a torturous chain of command up through the army chain to the air force chain and down to the squadrons, making quick reaction impossible. This will be corrected later, but not in time to make a difference.

[80 Yeas ago t]oday, two gruppen of Henschels decimate the attacking French tanks just north of Cambrai, but they are then intercepted by Dewoitine-520 fighters, losing eleven of their number.

 

Henschel-123.jpg.2e8e0c6c6c1c2847059ba441534c581e.jpg

 

"Today is the first combat use of the Martin 167F which are thrown into action despite not yet having bombsights installed. The French refer to them as Glenns in honor of designer Glenn Martin. The USAAC declined to procure them as the Martin A-22, and the British will refer to the Model 167 as the Maryland. An excellent bomber for the day, it's high speed, maneuverability, and rugged build result in the Martins having a 4% loss rate, compared to 16% for the LeO-451 conducting the same number or sorties against similar targets."

 

2112515545_Armedelu2019AirMartin167F.jpg.103fb90db6cecf4db30e31c1426de328.jpg

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Appreciate the history and pics - quite savage fighting in many places, not the walk-over people tend to assume looking at the length of the whole 1940 campaign.  

 

I vaguely recall SSI's Luftwaffe Commander (1999) having a 1940 element in it's campaign progression. (That was a sim with a good idea and appalling execution). Other than that it has never got much official love.

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"Despite Air Minister Guy La Chambre ordering Armée de l’Air staff to focus on ground attack ability in 1939, the senior air staff merely produced a manual of recommendations for light bombers in 1940. There was no conception of having fighters take part, despite three-quarters of all French fighters having 20mm cannon. This lack of enthusiasm was mostly due to the fixation on strategic bombing and reconnaissance. It was never considered to have fighters attack tanks on the ground, as that is not what fighters are for. Today, Groupe de chasse III/2 is directed to carry out its first dedicated aerial antitank missions. The unit flies nine sorties, loses three aircraft, and destroys no tanks, mainly because armor piercing 20mm shells are not available to the air force. Outclassed as a fighter due to its underpowered engine, the rugged Bloch was well suited for ground attack against un- or lightly armored targets."

 

1382743091_GermansposewithadownedBlochMB-152.jpg.d522b50f41514fdaeced6a48f6da3d48.jpg

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"One of the Spitfires flying support over Calais is downed today, with Flying Officer Peter Cazenove becoming a POW. The plane will be buried under the sand shortly after the first photo for decades, but exposed after a 1980 storm. Completely restored, the flight worthy aircraft is at the Imperial War Museum, Duxford."

 

558191900_SpitfireMark-IAP9374onCalaisbeach.jpg.b4e260a444bfa79e840c26d5bd713352.jpg

 

Spitfire_P9374_restored.jpg.e2d51c20d54043d9be6992df8ece8cfd.jpg

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"[80 years ago yesterday t]en Boulton-Paul Defiants of No 264 Squadron have just taken off from RAF Manston to provide cover over Dunkirk when attacked by an estimated thirty Bf-109s conducting a fighter sweep. The Defiant has proven itself vulnerable to head on attacks so Squadron Leader Philip Hunter orders them to form a Lufbury circle, as they gradually move back towards the base and its anti-aircraft guns. By the time the Germans break off, six Bf-109s (the British claim thirty-eight) and two Defiants have been downed.

 

79783212_DefiantsofNo264Squadron-A-isPhilipHuntersaircraft.jpg.3ddb4761f9a5f59ed3996dcd597ae114.jpg


The “other” turret fighter [the Blackburn Roc] achieves its only confirmed victory when a Roc and two Skuas intercept several Ju-88 bombers near Ostende. One German is downed by the Roc firing upwards at it".

 

2123923882_BlackburnRocs.jpg.782ad9496356850d0f09d11569b27e56.jpg

 

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"The last of the British Army leaves Dunkirk in the early morning, and Royal Navy Senior Officer Ashore William Tennant signals Admiral Ramsay: “Operation completed. Returning to Dover”. With the French defenders holding back the Germans longer than expected, Churchill overrides Ramsay and extends Operation Dynamo another day to pick up more French troops from the beaches.

 

With newly formed 10e Armée counterattacking at Abbeville tomorrow, a strike groupe of forty-three Bréguet 693 assault aircraft with forty fighters is assigned to support. Général Robert Altmayer exclaims, “What am I to do with all this aviation? I’ve already got more than sufficient artillery!” The aircraft will not be used and while the French attacks will reduce the size of the German bridgeheads, they will not eliminate them.

• The Luftwaffe launches Operation Paula to break the remainder of the Armée de l’Air prior to launching the next phase of the ground offensive, with a massive raid on Paris. 640 Luftwaffe bombers escorted by 450 fighters attack the capitol in three waves, with airfields and the Air Ministry as the primary targets, but also hitting railways and other military installations in what amounts to a dilution of effort for the main objective. 254 civilians are killed in the raids, but contrary to Allied propaganda, residential areas are not targeted. French fighter response is uneven with about eighty responding, including Polish pilots with Caudron C.714s and Belgians flying Fiat CR-42s. The Germans depend on speed for protection and indeed most of the Allied fighters, including MS-406s and MB-152s, cannot intercept or keep up with the bombers. All total, 17 Allied fighters, 7 German fighters, and only 4 bombers are downed, with another 20 aircraft of various types destroyed on the ground.

- One of the Allied pilots downed is Sergent František Peřina, the first Czech ace, who currently has eight confirmed kills with the Curtiss H75. He is wounded, but after recovering he will fly an H75 to Algeria prior to the armistice, then make his way to Britain and join No 312 (Czechoslovak) Squadron RAF.

- The German reliance on speed renders the attacks largely inaccurate. The operation is a failure but with low cost, and the Luftwaffe will claim to have destroyed 75 fighters in the air and 400 aircraft on the ground."

 

1942145704_HeinkelsoverParis.jpg.841e6698436ac4f2c1e62e1e903690c1.jpg

 

580209438_PolishCaudronC-714.jpg.84c6e499b5d682327897c9ff851a1802.jpg

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"Leading German ace Werner Mölders is shot down near Compiègne by Sous lieutenant René Pomier-Layrargues and taken prisoner. Mölders will be repatriated to Germany following the armistice. Pomier-Layrargues will be shot down and killed tomorrow. "

 

 

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"• Having suffered heavy losses in May, several French groupes de chasse are turning in their worn out and depleted MS-406s. GC III/2 is equipping with newly arrived Curtiss H75A-3s. II/7 and III/3 are equipping with De-520s. GC II/6 is re-equipping with MB-152s at the Bloch plant at Châteauroux when a Luftwaffe attack comes in. While still familiarizing with their new planes, they take off and down four He-111s. "

 

6291289044_f5fc3742c7_z.jpg.a90ac7a364650521141d52879bcd7006.jpg

 

"• Swiss fighters engage a German bombing raid crossing Swiss airspace to attack French targets. Defending Bf-110s protect the bombers but five Bf-110s are downed for one Swiss Bf-109D. "

 

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"• The French send twenty-one LeO-451 bombers against German tanks at Chaulnes, catching elements of 3. Panzer Division refueling. The Division reports that “painful casualties were taken”. Seven of the French bombers are shot down. Sergent Grandchamp of GB II/11 shoots down two Bf-110Cs with the dorsal Hispano 20mm cannon. The Germans will learn to attack LeOs from below, forcing the French to deploy the retractable belly turret, slowing them. "

 

72491139_LeO-451withdorsalHispano20mm.jpg.c378a1ca87dae1d7afb7c3ca2617104e.jpg

 

"The US Navy issues orders for several Reserve Naval Air Stations to immediately fly a total of fifty SBC-4 Helldivers to the Curtiss plant in Buffalo, New York. They are traded in to Curtiss for credits towards newer Curtiss aircraft. Curtiss is then free to modify the SBCs to French standards and sell them. The dive bombers will be transferred to Halifax and loaded aboard the carrier Béarn."

1161312522_ThisCurtissSBCisoneofthosesoldtoFrance.jpg.d6fb324395123baff6ed6d2461df7f08.jpg

 

"At the same time, the US Army Air Corps transfers 93 used Northrop A-17 ground attack aircraft, in service since 1936, to Douglas Aircraft Company in exchange for credits towards newer Douglas aircraft. The A-17s will be refurbished by Douglas and sold to the Armée de l’Air. After the fall of France, they will be delivered to the RAF and RCAF and used as advanced trainers."

 

18444227_NorthropA-17Astrippedofinsigniaforrefurbishing.jpg.2525c50c3588581f51a915c4ad833cf9.jpg

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Posted (edited)

"Aircraft being purchased by France can only legally leave the US by being loaded aboard a merchant ship in a US port or by crossing the border into Canada on the ground and then being flown to its destination, in this case the French carrier Béarn in Halifax. Curtiss SBC-4 Helldivers are being flown by US Navy pilots to areas near the border, then dragged across by civilians, mostly farmers using tractors or horses, then flown by Aéronavale pilots to Halifax. The below newsreel covers the transfer of Douglas Digbys (B-18A Bolo bomber) to the Royal Canadian Air Force later in 1940. The Digby will be the primary Canadian ASW aircraft into 1943, with confirmed sinkings of three U-boats"

 

 

 

"Royal Navy Sub-Lieutenant Patrick Dalzel-Job disobeys an order to cease evacuating civilians and over the next two weeks organizes small craft to bring nearly 5,000 Norwegians fleeing the Germans safely away. The Admiralty intends to courts-martial him, but King Haakon VII awards him the Knights Cross of St Olav for the action, making it politically awkward to do so. He will subsequently convey commandos aboard a Fairmile D motor gunboat, learn to operate midget submarines, and take parachute training. He will ultimately join the No 30 Assault Unit Commando, under Commander Ian Fleming, who will cite Patrick as one of the inspirations for James Bond. "

Edited by cardboard_killer
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The Northrop A-17 ground attack plane had also been ordered (and received) by the Dutch Airforce (called D8-3N).

It was however used as a fighter plane by lack of anything better. During the early hours of May 10th. most where destroyed in the onslaught.

One of the pilots flying one of these  D8-3N's was H Guyt. He was able to destroy an Ju 52. Later his engine was hit and he got covered in oil.

He succesfully took to his parachute and landed straight in a farmers glasshouse! His gunner perished however.

Later he succeded in reaching Britain (over the Pyrenees and trough Lisbon) and flew missions as a Mosquito pilot.

 

Douglas pilot H. Guyt. After the war he flew for KLM airlines.

Douglas H Guyt.png

 

One of the Dutch D8-3N (A-17), number 390. This plane damaged a Ju 88 and possible destroyed a Ju 52.

On top of that it was shot at by Dutch AA. The mission ended with a forced landing near Schipluiden.

Douglas 390.png

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I'm really enjoying these historical aviation vignettes about the 1940 invasion of the Low Countries and the Fall of France.  Learning a lot about some of the obscure, lesser known aircraft involved.

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After the Battle some people took photo's. One of those was A. Hustinx and he had a (for that time)

rare color film. These two pics show Ju 52's in the west of Holland. 

 

Ju 52's on the road Rotterdam-Delft. With some of the airfields under Dutch artillery fire or recaptured

these planes had to seek other landing grounds.

Ju 52 color May 24th 1940.png

 

After the Battle in Holland: for these cows it was just another day eating grass.

Ju 52s color.png

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[Normally, I try to keep these reposts to the associated air combat news; but some things should be remembered]

 

"Along the Somme, bypassed French units attempt to exfiltrate southwards. Many fail, but the Germans cannot be everywhere and as many make it by travelling overland. At Erquinvillers, 19. Infanterie Division encircles and captures large numbers of the 16e Régiment Tirailleurs Sénégalais. The Wehrmacht troops separate out the Africans from the Europeans and machine gun the former. An indignant French officer is told by a German officer, “an inferior race does not deserve to do battle with such as civilized race as the Germans.”

- Black soldiers of 24e RTS are given the same treatment by the Großdeutschland Infanterie Regiment. When Commandant Henri Bouquet tries to intervene to safe his Senegalese soldiers, he is shot along with seven of his officers."

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"The Regia Aeronautica stages a large raid with Fiat BR-20s escorted by CR-42s on the French airbase at Hyères on the Mediterranean coast. They are credited with downing one Vought V-156F (export SB2U Vindicator dive bomber) that happened to be caught aloft and wrecking 20 aircraft on the ground. One CR-42 is lost to a Bloch MB-152. Raids and airfield suppression missions with relatively light losses will be flown by both sides until the armistice."

 

1649103935_FiatBR-20MCicogna.jpg.7cfe23f3ecfc8b6f6338e8d9cc1ff40f.jpg

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"Italian aircraft from Sardinia attack French airfields in Bizerta, Tunisia, and French aircraft from southern France attack airfields on Sardinia.

• A dozen Ba-88 ground attack aircraft of 19° Gruppo Autonomo attack French airfields on Corsica. "

 

Breda_Ba88.jpg.7c6184cff08091f2fd6f348505ebd7ee.jpg

 

Under pressure from Marechal Pétain’s supporters, the French cabinet approves a motion 15-10 to ask the Germans for an armistice. Prime Minister Paul Reynaud resigns rather than sign it, and President Albert Lebrun asks Pétain to form a new government.

- Before his resignation takes effect, Reynaud quietly orders the French Purchasing Commission in the United States to turn over all contracts to allow the British to receive the armaments purchased by France but not yet delivered. "

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"The last Hawker Hurricanes in France fly to England. British aircraft unable to fly are wrecked. "

423777318_HurricaneMk-IofNo85SquadroninFrance.jpg.f25b02c5424b80618aeda9dcfe6b32d1.jpg

 

"The evacuation of Cherbourg is completed, the last British troops being brought away while elderly battleship Courbet engages Rommel’s advancing troops with 12” gunfire and Aéronavale Lioré et Olivier LeO 257 torpedo bombers attack them with bombs."

 

1170460682_HydravionsLeO257bis.jpg.38c1db9787cfd121b0d986de20004f48.jpg

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28 minutes ago, cardboard_killer said:

 

 

 

"The evacuation of Cherbourg is completed, the last British troops being brought away while elderly battleship Courbet engages Rommel’s advancing troops with 12” gunfire and Aéronavale Lioré et Olivier LeO 257 torpedo bombers attack them with bombs."

 

1170460682_HydravionsLeO257bis.jpg.38c1db9787cfd121b0d986de20004f48.jpg

I continue to be amazed by the lesser known Allied aircraft used in the Battle of France and Low Countries described in this thread.  The Flak 38 20mm AA gunners covering Rommel's 7th Panzer Division must have had field day against those French LeO 257's that looked almost like something out of the Great War.  Interesting to note for torpedo bombers in 1940 the French had the pictured LeO 257 and the British had the Swordfish in the Fleet Air Arm and the Vildebeest in the RAF.  At the same time, the Japanese were starting to field the excellent, modern, long-range Mitsubishi G4M "Betty".  Go figure.

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These entries are fantastic. Really love the photos -- please keep them coming.

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Posted (edited)

The Koolhoven FK 58:

 

FK 58A.png

 

June 19th: Commander W. Jasionowski is ordered to retreat to Rodez with his unit (Defence aérienne du territoire). On the 21st the remaining nine FK 58A's fly to Perpignan through Montpellier. From there the pilots move to Bayonne by train. On the 24th they reach Britain by ship. Pilot S. Wandzilak stays behind to lead the groundcrew.
Two days after the armistice this group crosses the Pyrenees. For a short while they are interned in Spain but reach Liverpool (through Gibraltar) om July 7th.
Wandzilak was one of a group of Polish pilots in France that learned to fly the Koolhoven FK 58 near Lyon. On May 29th he undertook his first mission from Salon. On June 17th he flew his last on the type from Aulnat (flying a total of 16 operational missions). It didn't come to aircombat during this period although one pilot (W. Czaplinski) went missing whilst flying from Nevèrs to Aulnat. If this was by enemy action could not be established for the plane and the pilot where never found.

 

The Koolhoven FK 58 fighter plane had been ordered by France in 1938 (50 machines). Ten machines were to be produced by the Sabca facory in Belgium to allow quicker overall production (in May 1940 these fuselages are quickly put on a train to France but never make it as they are destroyed by enemy planes a route).
Production of the French FK 58's started at the Koolhoven factory at Waalhaven airport (Rotterdam). As Holland was a neutral country the decision was later 
taken to move the produktion to France (after some 17 machines had been build). Also the delivery of certain instrument would less likely be hampered this way.
In Nevèrs on the river Loire an old factory was designated for this purpose. On sept 1st 1939 the first fuselages from Waalhaven are off-loaded at Le Havre.
A crew of the Koolhoven factory from Rotterdam are at Nevèrs to assist. For a short moment there was also talk of a factory in Saigon for French Indo-china. This never materialized. At some stage there was even talk of selling the machines to Holland again.
The French Airforce receives some 17 machines, the first 9 in December '39. The operational use of the Koolhoven fighter plane has been very limited.

 

Holland also ordered the Koolhoven FK 58 after long debate. By then (November '39) the Bristol Taurus engines for this version are no longer delivered to (neutral) Holland. Every country holds on to his own supplies deerly. In the meantime Koolhoven starts constructing the wings for this order. Then in April 1940 the decision is made to use Bristol Mercury's from Dutch stock. But it's all to late. In the early hours of May 10th Waalhaven airport with its Koolhoven factory is bombed. The hangars and its contents of planes goes up in flames.
(Frits Koolhoven ran his Koolhoven factory sinds the 1920's after having designed airplanes in Britain during the first world war for Armstrong Whitworth; notably

the FK 3 and FK 8).

 

FK 58A nr. 17 after the battle at Montpellier

FK 58A nr 17.png

 

Factory picture at Nevèrs

FK 58A Nevers.png

 

FK 58A's ready for delivery at Waalhaven

FK 58A Waalhaven.png

 

Second prototype seen here between testflights for the Dutch Airforce at the military airfield Soesterberg. Eventually 36 machines where ordered.

FK 58 2e proto soesterberg.png

Edited by Heliopause
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" In occupied Paris, Pétain’s emissaries, Général Charles Huntziger and former Ambassador to Poland Léon Noël, meet with Hitler, Deputy Führer Rudolf Hess, Göring, Großadmiral Raeder, Ribbentrop, and Generals Keitel and Jodl. They listen to an opening speech from Keitel accusing France and Britain of aggression not once but twice, in which the Germans deny that they were defeated militarily in 1918. They are then presented with the German armistice terms in 23 sections, which are non-negotiable. Several key sections are:

- All French POWs taken by the date the armistice is signed, plus all French soldiers encircled but not captured, will be prisoners until hostilities are concluded with all nations. This will result in nearly 1.5 million Frenchmen imprisoned for the duration.
- Anti-Fascist Germans who had previously fled to France will be turned over to the Germans by the French authorities.
- The French fleet is not required to be surrendered, but must be demobilized in ports under German or Italian control.
- Not all of France will be occupied. The Pétain government may establish itself in Paris or in some unoccupied city.

- Huntziger telephones Weygand and reads the terms. Weygand reports to Marechal Pétain that they are “harsh but not dishonoring”. Several cabinet members recommend rejecting the terms, with Amiral Darlan particularly vehement regarding the requirement for the fleet and urging the government to continue the fight from the colonial empire. Arguments continue late into the night.

 

[in air force fighting/news:]

Italian Ca-133 and SM-81 bombers escorted by Fiat CR-32s attack Djibouti in French Somaliland.

 

948028665_CaproniCa-133.jpg.36d2f90fed3d104dafac6ab06cc70dcc.jpg

 

"The French retaliate with a raid by Potez-25 reconnaissance bombers on Dewele, Italian East Africa. "

Potez-25s.jpg.dbe97ed22482a4fe8650a5d3b8136ae7.jpg

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"In the last combat action of the Battle of France, eleven LeO-451s bomb German pontoon bridges north of Grenoble. "

 

external-content.duckduckgo_com.jpg.f22d124038cd4bfddab7631b33b507f8.jpg

"• The first flight of the SNCAO-700 four-engine bomber is cancelled due to the armistice. The aircraft will be dismantled."

 

SNCAO-700.jpg.2264aa3b2d2342ab82b5323ca6dbc24a.jpg

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Terrific history thread, thanks for shedding some light on this period. :good:

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1 hour ago, unreasonable said:

Terrific history thread, thanks for shedding some light on this period. :good:

 

Someone I know is doing it, but the whole thing, land sea and air. I'm simply getting the interesting air stuff out, as well as some other tidbits. He's actually tunned in more to the sea war, as he's a submarine historian.

 

It does get me to want an early war BoX though! Who wouldn't want to intercept a Hs-123 flight with a group of H75s?

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