Their Finest Hour::Chapter 3 The Battle of France 17/5-24/5

401598

German has entered into Belgium and all Allies forces continued their withdrawal to Scheldt. British army, seeing the lack of confidence of French General, started to withdraw to the coast.

Seeing the swift fate of low countries, it is very important to bring as much force as possible to Britain.  In the land of Britain, Local Defence Volunteers was proposed by Mr. Eden, agreed by War Cabinet and was promotly formed by its people. At the same time, more troops from Australia might be added to the defence.

Operation Dynamo was prepared to get all the British army from France. This was proved to be salvation for British army 10 days later.

1122

 

1122

Their Finest Hour::Chapter 2 The Battle of France 10/5-16/5

401598

The best strategy (Plan E) was Belgians stand firm on their front on Meuse and Albert Canal while Allies stand firm on French frontier or at the most swing their left hand slightly forward to the line of the Scheldt  i/o rushing to their aid.

But it has been reached to carry out  General Gamelin’s  plan D (Dyle Plan) since those days of Sep 1939.

1st Group of Armies, under General Billotte, consisting of 51 divisions, stretched from the end of the Maginot Line near Longwy to the Belgian frontier, and behind that frontier to the sea in front of Dunkirk.

2nd and 3rd, under General Pretelat and Besson, consisting 43 divisions, guarded the French frontier from Longwy to Switzerland.

9 French divisions occupied the Maginot Line.

If Belgium and Holland became involved, this number would increased by 22 divisons.

total 135 divisions

More than half of the French Army stood on the southern and eastern sectors of France, 1st Group of Armies have to face the outslaught of 70 hostole divisions under Bock and Rundstedt between Longwy and the sea. To meet the connon-prof tank and dive-bomber aircraft, French deplayed about 2300 tank, mostly light.

During the night of May 9-10, German armies advance storm troop with light artillery towards France across the frontiers of Belgium, Holland and Luxembourg. Holland and Belgium, assaulted without the slightest pretext or warning, cried aloud for help. The Dutch had trusted to their water-line and Dutch frontier guards fired upon the invaders. The Belgians succeeded in destroying the bridges of the Meuse, but the Germans captured intact two across the Albert Canal.

By Plan D, 1st Allied Army Group, under General Billottee, with its small but fine British Army, advance east to Belgium once it under attack to forestall the enemy and stand on the line Meuse-Louvain-Antwerp. In front of the  line, lay the main Belgian force.

at 6:45am, General Gamelin ordered the execution of Plan D.

Dutch government had placed too much confidence on their water defence but in a single day all the outer line of the Dutch defences was mastered. The whole country was under the threat of German air force. Rotterdam was reduced to a blazing ruin. The Dutch hope that they would be by-passed by the German right-handed swing as in the former war was vain.

However, Dutch people rallied to the cause with indomitable. Their Queen Wilhelmine and her family were brought to Britain safely and from there encouraged her people to defense their country. Dutch ships were placed unreservedly under British control.

While situation in Belgium was more complicated. For many years, Belgium had cherished their neutrality. Before WWII, Belgium was not impressed by British peace making and French internal problems, decided to maintain strict neutrality and bet on German good faith. When invaded, they placed their forces against invaders and not willing to let Allied enter their country. They had lose the Albert Canal and were falling back to the line of the river Gette, taking up position from Antwerp to Louvain.

The Allies and arm of Holland and Belgium were almost defeated. France prepared to evacuate Paris. Churchill flight to Paris to have meeting with French General. The problems were quite critical: on one hand the armoured vehicles of Germany were very powerful, on the other hand, there was no strategy reserve of France.

It is a hard decision whether British should send more fighter to France. With support from the Cabinet, they gave an answer of yes.

Their Finest Hour::Chapter 1 The National Coalition

401598

The very first thing Churchill has to do was to form the National Coalition Government. He offered Chamberlain as head of House of Common and was accepted. But due to the opposition of Labors, it was decided Churchill took the leadership. Though members of Conservation have sore feeling to serve under Churchill, their royalty towards appointed leader had surpass their personal feeling. Churchill found out, forming Coalition government in war time is much easier than in peace time.

Churchill, at the beginning of the chapter, has praised the contribution of British people and their Allies. By comparison, British army contributed more at the beginning of the war while force of army of USA has greatly increased during the war and finally surpassed Britain in the spring of 1944. USA was the main force in Pacific but the main battle is in Mediterranean where Britain has millions of lives perished and turn into dust.

Churchill had organised a small War Cabinet that began by only 5 members, of whom one only, the Foreign Secretary, had a department. No. of the attendants had increased but the main responsibility was laid on the main five.

The main five(p.13):

Churchill  (Conservative)  PM, First Lord of Treasury, Minister of Defence,  Leader of House of Common

Chamberlain (Conservative)  Lord President of the Council

C.R.Attlee (Labour)  Lord Privy Seal

Lord Halifax (Conservative) Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs

Arthur Greenwood (Labour) Minister without Portfolio

After  the vote of confidence in the new administration in House of Commons on 13/5, Churchill has gain majority support and he said”I have nothing to offer but blood, toil, tears and sweet.” As simple as it is , it has great effect on people’s spirit. They are ready to fight for peace now.

 

 

 

 

The Gathering of Storm:: Chapter 33-the end Narvik-Trondheim

401598

All these four chapters were about the rescue of Norway.

Norway was not prepared for the defense of Germany’s offensive movement.Norway regarded itself as friend/neutral mate with Germany. Thus it gave them great surprise when Germany hit the blow.

222

The Allies has sent the troop to rescue. But their approach to Narvik was more or less fail and they changed the plan to get to Trondheim. Tragedy happened. Glorious had been detached early in the morning to proceed home independently owing to shortage of fuel. This is a mistake. Glorious, with her 4 inch guns, was helpless, when it encountered German attack. Her two destroyers behaved nobly.Both made smoke in an endeavour to screen the Glorious and both fired their torpedoes at the enemy. But Ardent was soon sunk, following by Acasta, with only one survivor who later told the story of the fight.

Germany’s adventure in Norway were much ruined. They suffered the great loss in the naval fleet and the loss was more severe than the Allies.

2

 

The final chapter has outline the fall of Chamberlain government. Chamberlain was received blame on his pacific policy. Once friends, turned to be foe to the poor PM. Chamberlain decided to resign and handed over the government to Churchill.

Churchill has always oppose the pacific approach and he was not responsible for all the faults in the past. His attitude and policy towards Germany were not welcome before war becoming intense but now was much needed.

Churchill, happy with what he have, with highest power, he can adopt more effective approach to Germany than used to be. He also knew that there was great possibility to be dismissed after war.

22

 

Now I have finished reading Vol 1 of Churchill’s WWII

The Gathering of Storm:: Chapter 32 Before the Storm March 1940

401598

Scapa had been repaired in 6 months. The three main entrances were defended with booms and mines and three additional blockships has been placed in Kirk Sound, through which Prien’s U-boat had slipped to destroy the Royal Oak. 120 ack-ack guns with numerous searchlights and a bailoon barrage were added.

ack-ack batteries: Anti-Aircraft Battery, usually placed on the mouth of bays or near the port
ack-ack batteries: Anti-Aircraft Battery, usually placed on the mouth of bays or near the port

Despite brave defense of Finns, the Mannerheim line was breaching in fortnight’s fighting. By the end of the month, Russians were able to concentrate against the Gulf of Viipuri. The Finns were short of ammunition and their troops exhausted.

Churchill had always proposed more positive strike on Germany than mild and passive defense. He commented:

Good, decent, civilized people, it appeared, must never themselves strike till after they have been struck deed. In these days the fearful German volcano and all its subterranean fires drew near to their explosion-point. There were still months of pretended war.

The project of Royal Marine was once again brought with France. French government agreed on the important of the project and address the advantage of the plan.

111

2

Despite all the discussion and preparation, this plan was never carried out.

22

Various offensive proposals and devices Churchill put forward during the Twilight War. He is not very happy for it but that is what utmost he can do in his subordinate position.

222