Army Vichy France - WWII

B

bokkatankie

Guest
#2
Read the same article, not really bizarre, one has to remember that certain parts of the cabinet and military had doubts that the war could be won, offering Vichy something may have also been a sop to the destruction of the French fleet and the taking of Syria and Lebanon.

The article does talk about only arming them in the event Germany was forced to withdraw from France, a power vacuum in that event, with the rise of communism et al could have been very dangerous.

The whole Vichy thing is locked so tight in the secrets chest that much will not be released and is potentially explosive with the French. Many years yet before we get the whole truth, if we ever do.
 
B

bokkatankie

Guest
#4
Totally agree, I can't see the french ever releasing the truth of their total capitulation and collaboration.
Some is deemed too sensitive ever to be seen. Historians will be busy over the next few year as documents fall out of the banning process. For years we thought the British and US were capable of taking Berlin, the more accurate version is that we had already agreed USSR could have it. So many history re-writes will be done in the next 10-20 years.
 

seaweed

LE
Book Reviewer
#5
Not only could the Russians have Berlin, they could have the associated casualties too. It would not have gone down well at home if we had crossed the Elbe and pressed on, taken a whole lot of extra casualties, and then gone back again. For us there was a severely practical side - WSC's memoirs clearly record how we were running out of men - and we still had a war to fight against Japan, certainly in Malaya; even those tiny few who knew about the A-bomb could not know (1) if it would work or (2) if it did, what the Jap reaction would be. Some people thought the war in the East might drag on for the rest of the decade.

As it was, we did go for the corner flag to close off the Danish peninsula so as to save Denmark from going Communist which would have been a strategic disaster.

This newly-discovered memo is a bit of surprise, one can only wonder what will get let out later.
 
#8
As Seaweed says the UK was running out of bodies, I believe plans were afoot to use RN personnel as land forces.
Yes.This is from the book Through Adversity (a history of the RAF Regt):

The Cabinet subsequently decided that the
140,000 young men who were due to be called up in the first half of
1945 would all be directed to the Army. In addition, both the Royal
Navy and the Royal Air Force were required to find 20,000 men
each who would agree to transfer to the Army.
Thus in 1945 the RAF Regiment had to surrender a further
5,000 men (including 300 sergeants and 500 corporals who were
allowed to retain their rank) as their share of the RAF’s manpower
contribution to the Army.
How many of these RAF and RN personnel were actually transferred I don't know. But this was all a long time after the effective end of Vichy France in November 1942.
 
#9
One division (the 50th?) had to be disbanded to supply replacements to other units. Ken Tout makes the point in his books that the tanks were short of infantry to protect them. Infantry were seen as a "luxury" in 1945.
The Red Army were running out fast too. A recently published book suggests Hitler thought he may yet be able to fight them to a standstill.
 
B

bokkatankie

Guest
#10
Not only could the Russians have Berlin, they could have the associated casualties too. It would not have gone down well at home if we had crossed the Elbe and pressed on, taken a whole lot of extra casualties, and then gone back again. For us there was a severely practical side - WSC's memoirs clearly record how we were running out of men - and we still had a war to fight against Japan, certainly in Malaya; even those tiny few who knew about the A-bomb could not know (1) if it would work or (2) if it did, what the Jap reaction would be. Some people thought the war in the East might drag on for the rest of the decade.

As it was, we did go for the corner flag to close off the Danish peninsula so as to save Denmark from going Communist which would have been a strategic disaster.

This newly-discovered memo is a bit of surprise, one can only wonder what will get let out later.
Correct me if I am wrong but who got to get Berlin was decided before D-Day.

The fact that we then ran out of infantry merely confirmed that it was good fortune we did not have to go that way.

But in Monty's memoirs he makes no mention of either running desperately short of infantry or that Berlin was not the objective. Otherwise Market Garden would have been a complete waste of manpower.....
 
#12
Correct me if I am wrong but who got to get Berlin was decided before D-Day.

The fact that we then ran out of infantry merely confirmed that it was good fortune we did not have to go that way.

But in Monty's memoirs he makes no mention of either running desperately short of infantry or that Berlin was not the objective. Otherwise Market Garden would have been a complete waste of manpower.....
If you have the patience to deal with the academic style of writing, look for 'Colossal Cracks' - not a book about NAAFI slappers, but an analysis of Monty's operational methods, and the factors behind them.

One of which was a clear awareness that the manpower pool was running dry, and there was a peace to be won, when it was all over.

An entire arty AA division was converted to inf in late '44. Likewise crabs were converted to grunts (let their historians winge about it, the war was about beating Adolf - not about building a light-blue empire, FFS)

On the fight for Berlin: think about this little statement (sticks with me 33yrs on, from a MILAN course I did, under Chris Keeble of later Goose Green fame, who had Chris Donnelly - later the senior adviser to NATO on matter Eastern European, and at the time UK's foremost expert on the Red Army - come and teach us for an afternoon) "In the last 6 weeks of the war, the Red Army lost more men than did the Americans and the Britsh, combined, in the entire 6 years of the war"

and if Adolf reckoned he'd enough manpower by late '44, to kick Stalin's ass, it was only because by that time he was a permanent resident of Wolkenkuckucksheim - and (let's face it) he was never a devotee of methodical, rigorous planning, in any aspect of his 'leadership'.

Take a look at the photos of 14 yr old Volkssturm lads, on the German border, in Max hasting's latest best-seller, to get a taste of what I mean.
 
#13
IIRC, I read that the Army of Vichy at least considered the armistice to be a temporary thing, and continued to hide and stockpile arms, tried to Build Armored Cars on US truck chassis and used a youth org Chantiers de Jeunesse? as a Military prep course while hiding units from German inspectors.
 
#14
IIRC, I read that the Army of Vichy at least considered the armistice to be a temporary thing, and continued to hide and stockpile arms, tried to Build Armored Cars on US truck chassis and used a youth org Chantiers de Jeunesse? as a Military prep course while hiding units from German inspectors.
To fight whom?

Shure as hell not the Hermans.
 
#15
A|lanbrooke's diaries have evidence of some communications with Vichy. His entry for 26 Dec 1940 has a reference to a meeting with the Canadian envoy to Vichy France .

De Gaulle was not popular with the British or, particularly, the Americans. Alanbrooke's notes on his diary mentions that de Gaiulle gave the impression that the liberation of France was a British problem - his concerns were how to govern it.

After Nov 1942 we did rearm the French. In 1943-4 A small army fought in Italy under the command of General Juin, who had served Vichy. His unites were mostly formed around ex Vichy units, supplemented by North African volunteers.

In the final attack on Germany the French had around 10 divisions making up C 10% of the forces available. It would have been unhelpful to have asked too closely where their allegiances lay four years earlier.

It is easy for Britons to sneer, but one guide to how the British might have behaved is in the channel islands - the model occupation.
 
#16
[snip]In the final attack on Germany the French had a bunch of turncoats fighting to the last against the Russians, in the Reichstag[/snip]
Fixed that for you.

It is easy for Britons to sneer[snip]
Yup, it is.

Had the Channel Islands ever invaded all their neighbouring nations (as did France, under Napoleon) you might have a point.

As it is, in 1940, your fellow countrymen and soldiers, faced with the choice - after hundreds of English civilian volunteers in tiny little sailing boats rescued them from Dunkerque - of continuing resistance, or craven repatriation, took the latter course. Your people - in toto - capitulated to Uncle Adolph.

My nation - my Grandfather* and his friends - stood alone against the Fascists after Dunkerque: it was the decisive act of defiance that made the defeat of Nazi Germany possible. It was an epic decision for a small nation to make.

When Liberation finally came to your homeland, on 6 June '44 - fewer than 400 Frenchmen (under Commandant Philippe Kieffer) came ashore to fight at Ouistreham.

Easy to sneer?

Dam' right.

Now **** Off and cook me an omelette: it's about all you lot are good for, 'cos your wine's not what it was, let's face it :wink:

====
*Stonkernote: I neglected to mention that (like the little ships crews at Dunkerque in 1940) my Grandad was a volunteer - not a pressed man. He willingly quit a safe job in England, and left his wife and 6 kids to sign up with the royal Marines, and fight for the liberation of France.

While thousands of healthy Crapaud 'men' of military age sat on their arrses making Cognac for the Boches.
 

seaweed

LE
Book Reviewer
#19
Some glosses:

1. I think it was made clear by the UK Govt to the inhabitants of the Channel Islands that there was little purpose in their rocking the boat as that would have no military value.

2. Hitler's idea that he could grind the Russians to a standstill could relate to his seeing his strategic picture via the movement of German divisions which in reality were almost empty husks, the teeth eaten out and only the tail remaining.

3. It was destroyers of the Royal Navy that secured the naval victory at Dunkirk, ably assisted by the 'little ships' whose main task was to ferry men out to destroyers in deeper water.

4. One of Churchill's many erroneous strategic fixations was that, following his creation of the RN Division in 1914 using a surplus of reservists, it was a clever thing to send sailors to fight on land - although the RND eventually was mainly composed of conscripted Durham miners. The RND did a good job, but its men should really have been part of a normal Army formation after the Antwerp debacle.

5. I suspect the Cabinet decision on RN manpower missed the need for naval reinforcements for the British Pacific Fleet - not just aircrew, but replacements for losses to Kamikazes - and likely losses in Zipper, the invasion of Malaya, which was mercifully only just short-circuited by the Bomb.

6. The 'we stood alone' bit should recognise the Commonwealth contribution to the war prior to the US eventually turning up to join in, prodded somewhat by Yamamoto.
 
#20
5. I suspect the Cabinet decision on RN manpower missed the need for naval reinforcements for the British Pacific Fleet - not just aircrew, but replacements for losses to Kamikazes - and likely losses in Zipper, the invasion of Malaya, which was mercifully only just short-circuited by the Bomb.
Transferring 20 000 out of a RN strength of (IIRC) over 800 000 at the time shouldn't have made a huge difference- especially with the Battle of the Atlantic almost over and therefore a diminishing need to man escorts. Also the RCN and to a lesser extent the other Commonwealth navies had taken over manning on quite a few warships in 1944, including several cruisers and an escort carrier. Anyway I would surmise that the majority of those transferred came from shore establishments. Be interesting to find out for sure though. I seriously doubt that any FAA personnel were transferred to the Army.

6. The 'we stood alone' bit should recognise the Commonwealth contribution to the war prior to the US eventually turning up to join in, prodded somewhat by Yamamoto.
It certainly should.
 

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