17 October 1939

17 October 1939

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17 October 1939

War in the Air

Small Luftwaffe raids hit the north of Scotland. The battleship Iron Duke suffers minor damage

Western Front

Infantry engagements take place


Negotiations between Turkey and the Soviet Union end

War at Sea

The Norwegian steamer Lorentz W. Hansen is sunk

Behind the Lines

From Socialist Appeal, Vol. III No. 79, 17 October 1939, p.ف.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’Callaghan for ETOL.

Trial peace balloons are popping more loudly right now than the guns on the western front.

Behind the empty rhetoric of Chamberlain and Daladier, behind the veritable flood of inspired peace rumors in the press, it is not difficult to discern the dim outlines of backdoor diplomatic schemes.

On the German side the purpose of peace maneuvers is plain. Even an armistice now on Germany’s terms would be a victory for Hitler of the first magnitude. That is why there will be no armistice – on Germany’s terms.

But what form would Anglo-French counter-proposals take?Nobody takes seriously the pompous bunk in the Chamberlain-Daladier speeches about national honor, condoning of “aggression,” and non-recourse to force in international relations. Least of all does anybody seriously believe that Britain or France are going to make any possible deal with Hitler contingent upon the re-creation of Austria, Czechoslovakia, or Poland.

Already, when pressed on the subject of their war aims, the French and British leaders are growing progressively vaguer. They cannot define specific aims of a war the precise form of which has not been determined as yet.

It is in this domain that the backdoor diplomats are busily at work. In London, Paris – and in Washington – ways and means are undoubtedly being sought to shift the war’s axis in a way that will turn its sharp end against Russia. The spectacular Russian grabs in the Baltic and now into Scandinavia are undoubtedly a source of profound concern to the leading Nazis and the Reichswehr generals. In those circles the British and French may hope still to find the lever with which they can swing the guns around at Russia.

That is why it is no accident at all that Washington is receiving with every evidence of serious consideration the Scandinavian plea against Russia’s drive. That is why the entire propaganda of the Allies is concentrating on convincing the Germans that the Hitler-Ribbentrop policy has actually proved disastrous for the Reich because it leaves Germany’s fate in the war up to Stalin.

It is the hope seriously entertained in London and Paris that the fragile Berlin-Moscow axis can be smashed if the right formula is found that accounts for the slow tempo of military operations. With winter almost upon us, the probability of an offensive along the western front fades, and leaves a period of four or five months ahead for the diplomatic game to be played out.

Stalin’s moves have shown that he has by no means discounted this possibility. The military provisions of the pacts forced on the Baltic States are all aimed, without exception, at the future contingency of conflict with Germany. But whether they will actually enhance his ability to meet such a conflict, if it comes, is something only the event will show.

Stalin’s whole policy is based precisely upon avoiding such a clash. From this we may safely assume that if the Anglo-French maneuvers should show any signs of succeeding at all – and this is still far from the fact – Stalin will pull some speedy surprises of his own out of the Kremlin’s bag of tricks. By next spring – perhaps even sooner – the war may present a quite different aspect then it now so provisionally assumes.

[Letter from Walter P. Webb to Senator W. J. Bryan, October 17, 1939]

Letter from Walter P. Webb to Senator W. J. Bryan discussing the details of the leaflet about the program of the Texas State Historical Association along with the organization's plans for expansion.

Physical Description

Creation Information


This letter is part of the collection entitled: Abilene Library Consortium and was provided by the Hardin-Simmons University Library to The Portal to Texas History, a digital repository hosted by the UNT Libraries. More information about this letter can be viewed below.

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Hardin-Simmons University Library

The Richardson and Smith libraries at this private Baptist university in Abilene provide materials necessary to support the research of students and faculty. They provide books, federal documents, maps, scores, recordings, and periodicals which are on open shelves and readily accessible to all.

Today in History: Born on October 18

H.L. Davis, novelist and poet.

A.J. Liebling, journalist and author.

Ntozake Shange (Paulette Williams), poet, playwright and novelist.

Chuck Berry, rock 'n' roll performer.

Lee Harvey Oswald, assassin of President John F. Kennedy.

Wendy Wasserstein, playwright (The Heidi Chronicles).

Terry McMillan, novelist (Waiting to Exhale).

Bao Ninh (Hoang Au Phuong), Vietnamese author known for his novel The Sorrow of War about the Vietnam War, in which he served.

Chuck Lorre (Charles Levine), TV writer, director, producer and composer. Created several successful sitcoms including Dharma & Greg and The Big Bang Theory.

Craig Bartlett, animator, writer known for his work on Rugrats , Hey Arnold! and Dinosaur Train animated TV series.

Martina Navratilova, Czechoslovakian-born tennis player won a record 9 Wimbledon singles competitions.

Erin Moran, actress best known for her role as Joanie Cunningham on Happy Days TV series and its spinoff Joanie Loves Chachi.

Jean-Claude Van Damme, martial artist, actor, director (Bloodsport, The Expendables 2).

Wynton Marsalis, Grammy-winning jazz trumpeter presently (2013) artistic Director of Jazz at Lincoln Center in New York.

Jose Padilla, American terrorist convicted of conspiring with overseas terrorists in death plots held from May 8, 2002, as an enemy combatant, he was tried in a civilian court in 2006

A Pact with the Soviet Union

By the summer of 1939, war in Europe seemed inevitable. As people braced themselves, many wondered how the Soviet Union would respond. For years, Hitler had targeted the Soviet Union and the Communist Party as Germany’s primary enemy. Joseph Stalin held similar views of Germany and the Nazi Party.

To the surprise of almost everyone, the two dictators announced a nonaggression pact on August 23, 1939. The two men agreed that their countries would not to attack each other, either independently or along with other nations. They also vowed to consult each other in order to provide information or raise questions concerning their common interests and also to resolve any differences through negotiation or arbitration. The pact would be in effect for ten years, with an automatic extension for another five years unless either party gave notice to end it. 1

The treaty startled people everywhere. Both Stalin and Hitler knew that their internal propaganda machines would have to work hard to change current public opinion within their nations and also to change the negative perceptions that each country had been cultivating about the other. According to historian Roger Moorhouse:

[T]he tone of public and cultural life in the Soviet Union shifted after the signing of the pact. From one day to the next, the newspapers stopped criticizing Nazi Germany and instead began lauding German achievements. As Kravencho (a factory director) noted . . . “The Society for Cultural Relations with Foreign Countries instantly discovered the wonders of German Kultur. Visiting Moscow on business, I learned that several exhibits of Nazi art, Nazi economic achievements and Nazi military glory were on view or in the process of organization. In fact, everything Germanic was in vogue.” 2

In Germany, people were equally surprised. As in the Soviet Union, official propaganda reversed itself quickly after its years of attacks on Soviet communism. According to Moorhouse:

Public discourse was uniformly positive about the pact, with German newspapers immediately altering the tone with which they reported Soviet current affairs or Russian culture. Where reporters and editors had once been unable to resist inserting—at the very least—a derogatory adjective or a critical aside, they now reported events with scrupulous evenhandedness. On the morning of the pact's announcement, the newspapers seemed desperate to make the case for the new arrangement. Every title carried almost verbatim reports and commentaries, scripted under Goebbels’s supervision, rejoicing at the restoration of the “traditional friendship between the Russian and the German peoples.” In the Nazi Party newspaper, the Völkischer Beobachter, [German Foreign Minister] Ribbentrop congratulated himself by lauding his achievement as “one of the most important turning points in the history of our two peoples.” Even the in-house newspaper of the SS, Das Schwarze Korps, toed the optimistic line, reminding its readers, in a gallop through Russian and Soviet history, that the empire of the tsars had originally been a Germanic state, that it had twice “saved” Prussia, and that it had “paid dearly” for its enmity with Germany in World War I. Echoing Ribbentrop, the newspaper concluded that the two countries had always flourished when they were friends and so looked forward to a new era of collaboration. 3

At the time, only a handful of diplomats from both countries knew that the treaty contained a set of secret clauses in which Germany and the Soviet Union divided Poland and other parts of eastern Europe between them. The clauses were not made public until much later.

BYRD Genealogy

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Fan Magazines Collection

Fan magazines gave audiences a way to experience the magic of the movies beyond the theatre. The magazines also gave producers a way to promote their stars and coming films. You can observe a shifting in emphasis across the historical span of this collection. Whereas the volumes of Motion Picture Story Magazine (1913-1914) and the British Picture Stories Magazine (1913-1914) reproduced the stories of films, the fan magazines of the late-teens and beyond focused on the most important audience draw -- the stars.

Our own greatest draw in this collection is our five decade run of Photoplay. Scanned from the original color magazines, the MHDL’s collection of Photoplay begins in 1914 and extends through 1963. Our digital edition of Photoplay is the cumulative result of years of coordination and digitization. Thank you to the collections that provided copies for scanning: Karl Thiede, Bruce Long, the Museum of Modern Art Library and the Pacific Film Archive Library and Film Study Center. Funders include Domitor, an anonymous donor (in memory of Carolyn Hauer), Richard Scheckman, and David Sorochty.

The select holdings of this collection include over one hundred magazine issues digitized by Bruce Long. Bruce Long utilized many of these rare magazines, which include Broadway Brevities, Pantomime, and Captain Billy's Whiz Bang, in the production of his own fanzine, Taylorology.

Those known to have served with

during the Second World War 1939-1945.

  • Robert Thomas. Pte.
  • Aaron Jack.
  • Allison Lance. Pte.
  • Allsworth Cyril Arther.
  • Anderson TW.
  • Annand Richard Wallace. Capt.
  • Archbold Herbert Learmount.
  • Ashton Horace Wallace. Capt.
  • Ashworth Wilfred. L/Cpl. (d.6th November 1941)
  • Bailey Alan. Pte. (d.17th Jan 1944)
  • Banks Gordon Cyril. Pte.
  • Banks Jack. (d.21st Jul 1944)
  • Banks Jack. (d.21st Jul 1944)
  • Barker John James. Pte.
  • Barker Raymond Walter. Pte. (d.October 1944)
  • Bell Clasper. Pte. (d.29th Jun 1942)
  • Bell Joseph Russell. Pte. (d.24th Jul 1943)
  • Bell Norman. Pte. (d.18th August 1944)
  • Berriman Alan. 2nd Lt.
  • Billett Derek Patrick. Pte. (d.14th Jun 1944)
  • Bisney GM.
  • Black George.
  • Blackwood William. Pte.
  • Boardman Herbert. Pte. (d.1942)
  • Booth Raymond. Pte. (d.30th May 1940)
  • Booth Raymond. Pte. (d.30th May 1940 )
  • Bowater Frank Leslie. Pte. (d.1st June 1940)
  • Bowman George Henry.
  • Boyle Charles Arnold. Pte.
  • Bradley Thomas. WO2.
  • Brailey FJ.
  • Brett Thomas Patrick. Cpl.
  • Bridge HS.
  • Bridges James Henry. Sgt.Mjr.
  • Brown Andrew. Sergeant
  • Brown Arthur William. Pte. (d.14th Jun 1944)
  • Brown Frank Sidney. Pte.
  • Burns John. (d.14th June 1944)
  • Burns John. (d.14th June 1944)
  • Button Joseph. Pte
  • Byrne James. Pte. (d.27th Jun 1942)
  • Cairns P.
  • Cardwell John. Pte
  • Carr Frederick George. Pte
  • Cassey William. Pte.
  • Cassidy James Francis. Pte.
  • Charles William.
  • Clarke James John Murray. Cpl.
  • Clarke Samuel. Cpl. (d.27th Sep 1943)
  • Clements George Daniel. Pte. (d.2nd Apr 1943)
  • Coldicott Charles Alfred. Pte. (d.14th Jun 1944)
  • Collins Martin.
  • Conlon James. Pte. (d.14th Jun 1944)
  • Cook Cecil. Pte
  • Cordery George Cyril. Sgt.
  • Cowell Joseph Robert. Pte. (d.12th April 1945)
  • Cox James. Pte.
  • Cramman John George William. Pte.
  • Crammond TG.
  • Crawford MA.
  • Curry William. L/Cpl.
  • Davies Frederick Octavius .
  • Davis George Henry. Pte. (d.27th May 1940)
  • Davis Thomas Richardson. L/Sgt.
  • Daviss WF.
  • Dean George Chambers. Pte.
  • Dennis J.
  • Dennis TB.
  • Diment George. Pte (d.15th Oct 1944)
  • Dixon John Frederick. Pte. (d.10th September 1944)
  • Dobie RNC.
  • Dodd A.
  • Dodd A.
  • Donovan P.
  • Duffy Francis. Pte. (d.28th Dec 1940)
  • Duffy Hugh Herbert White. Lt.
  • Duggan Harry. Pte.
  • Dwyer J.
  • Dwyer T.
  • Eagles Charles.
  • Easton Stanley Alexander. Pte.
  • Edwards Arnold. Pte. (d.19th August 1944)
  • Edwards Ralph. Pte.
  • Elderton Reg.
  • Elliott R.
  • Evans Peter. Cpl. (d.14th Jun 1944)
  • Fail T.
  • Fennon A E. Private (d.2nd November 1942)
  • Fergus William.
  • Finch B.
  • Firth Edward Maurice. Cpl. (d.13th June 1944)
  • Flanagan Joseph. Pte. (d.22nd Mar 1943)
  • Ford PN.
  • Foster Norman. Pte.
  • Fraser Joseph. Pte. (d.4th May 1944)
  • Frearson P.
  • Freeman MJ.
  • Friberg James Hansen. Pte.
  • Gardner AM.
  • Garner John. Pte.
  • George Matthew Douglas. Pte. (d.17th Jul 1943)
  • German Thomas. Sgt.
  • Gildea Bernard Joseph. (d.21st March 1943)
  • Gill Edward. Pte. (d.26th May 1940)
  • Gillan Robert. L/Cpl. (d.22nd March 1943)
  • Glendening .
  • Goodrich William Henry. Pte.
  • Govan Thomas. Cpl.
  • Grant C.
  • Graves George. Pte (d.26th May - 1st June 1940)
  • Greener Robert Cook. L/Cpl.
  • Greenleaf J.
  • Greenwood John Allan.
  • Griffith W.
  • Griffiths Lemuel Roger. Pte.
  • Gwilliam William Henry James. Sgt. (d.14th Jun 1944)
  • Hagan D.
  • Hair Robert Walter. Pte.
  • Hall E.
  • Harrington William. Cpl.
  • Harris Thomas J.. Pte. (d.17th February 1946)
  • Hart Edward Anthony Peter. L/Cpl. (d.27th September 1944)
  • Hatchett Thomas Henry. Gnr. (d.16th Dec 1944)
  • Hazell Norman Eric.
  • Henderson William. Pte. (d.24th May 1940)
  • Hermitage Frederick Robert John. Pte.
  • Heslop RH.
  • Heslop SW.
  • Holmes J.
  • Honeybell Charles Victor. L/Cpl.
  • Hood John. Pte. (d.23rd April 1944)
  • Hopper Stanley. Pte. (d.19th Sep 1943)
  • Horabin Arthur.
  • Horseman J W. Cpl
  • Horton Arthur Samuel. Pte. (d.14th Jun 1944)
  • Hunter Joseph Lakeman. Pte. (d.17 Jun 1940)
  • Illingsworth Stanley. Pte. (d.14th Jun 1944)
  • Inglis James Thomas. Pte.
  • Irving EWM.
  • Jenkinson H.
  • Johnson George. L/Cpl. (d.15th September 1940)
  • Johnson Watson. Pte. (d.24th Mar 1942)
  • Jones Harrison Oughton. Cpl.
  • Jones John. Pte. (d.2nd Nov 1942)
  • Kearns M.
  • Keeling RAJ.
  • Kendal G.
  • Kerr Robert Wallace. Padre
  • Kerr Robert Wallace. Capt.(Padre)
  • Kingham HL.
  • Kitchen Albert. Pte. (d.14th Jun 1944)
  • Knox William. L/Cpl. (d.14th Jun 1944)
  • Krieger Gerald. Capt.
  • Lane Lawrence. Pte.
  • Lane Lawrence. Pte.
  • Langley John. Pte. (d.15th May 1941)
  • Law J.
  • Law William Joseph. Pte. (d.26th May 1940)
  • Lawn Arthur William Lamason. Capt. (d.11th Jul 1942 Â )
  • Lax John.
  • Leather Thomas L.. Pte. (d.8th January 1946)
  • Lewin F.
  • Lewis William Hugh. Pte. (d.14th Jun 1944)
  • Lewsey Kenneth James. Pte. (d.27th Aug 1944)
  • Ley-Wilson Derrick. Mjr.
  • Lindsay George. Pte.
  • Lomax John Herbert. Cpl
  • Long Stanley. Cpl.
  • Lynch Jack. Pte. (d.14th Jun 1944)
  • Mahan John Robert. Pte. (d.14th Jun 1944)
  • Marshall Raymond. Sgt.
  • Martin Albert.
  • Mason C.
  • Matthison M.
  • McBeth John Francis Gray. L/Cpl.
  • McCreary Richard. Sgt.
  • McEvoy John. (d.2nd Nov 1942)
  • McGurty John Henry. Pte. (d.11th Jul 1944)
  • Medhurst William Thomas. Pte. (d.14th Jun 1944)
  • Melhuish William Henry. Pte. (d.14th Jun 1944)
  • Miller Joseph. Pte. (d.1st Jun 1940)
  • Minchell CO.
  • Mollon Harold William. Pte.
  • Moneypenny Charles Henry. Pte.
  • Moore James Ronald. Pte.
  • Morris George. Pte.
  • Mortimer Arthur Henry. Pte. (d.14th Jun 1944)
  • Mowbray JR.
  • Mullen Thomas. Pte. (d.25th Apr 1944)
  • Murphy Norman. Pte.
  • Murray Arthur Farquhar. Mjr.
  • Neathway Joseph Robert Leslie. Sgt.
  • Nesbitt Gerard. Padre (d.5th July 1944)
  • Newell Leslie Charles. Pte. (d.4th Sep 1944)
  • Nicholas Ernest. Pte. (d.25th Aug 1944)
  • Nicholls James Henry Fredrick. Pte. (d.14th Jun 1944)
  • Nicholls S.
  • Nicol Malcolm. Pte. (d.21st May 1940)
  • Nicol Malcolm. Pte. (d.21st May 1940)
  • Noone Albert. Pte. (d.22nd Mar 1943)
  • Norman John Wesley. L/Cpl.
  • O'Hara James. Pte. (d.17th Aug 1942)
  • O'Hara John James. Pte.
  • O'Malley Patrick. Pte. (d.12th Dec 1946)
  • Ogilvie John. Cpl
  • Ord Percy. Pte.
  • Park E.
  • Parker David Edward. Pte
  • Parry William Henry. Cpl.
  • Paxton Harry Taylor Cooper. L/Cpl.
  • Pearson Joseph Henry Foster. L/Cpl. (d.8th Jun 1943)
  • Pickering Geoffrey. Cpl.
  • Potts Robert. Pte.
  • Proctor Norman. Pte. (d.17th July 1943)
  • Quail William James. Pte.
  • Quigley Edward. Pte. (d.14th Jun 1944)
  • Rafferty William. RSM.
  • Rankin JR.
  • Ratcliffe James. Pte.
  • Reed FL.
  • Reed Joseph Edward. Intelligence Officer
  • Richardson S.
  • Richardson Thomas Alan. Lt. (d. 21st March 1943)
  • Rigby James William. Pte. (d.20th May 1940)
  • Roberson William Rutter. Cpl. (d.24th Apr 1942)
  • Roberts Sydney George. Cpl. (d.22nd Dec 1943)
  • Robins Oliver.
  • Rock Dan.
  • Roff William Ernest. Pte. (d.14th Jun 1944)
  • Rolfe Alfred Cyril. Pte. (d.14th Jun 1944)
  • Rooney JJ.
  • Ross F.
  • Ross Matthew. Pte. (d.23rd Apr 1944)
  • Saunders James McQuillan. Pte
  • Scott John. Fus.
  • Scott WR.
  • Scully Frederick Albert.
  • Service JGW.
  • Sharp Arthur Clifford. Pte. (d.26th May - 4th June 1940)
  • Shaw John T.. L/Cpl.
  • Shepheard FJ.
  • Shepherd Ronald Frederick. Pte.
  • Simpson Charles Beresford. Pte. (d.14th Jun 1944)
  • Simpson George Robert. Sgt.
  • Smith A.
  • Smith George.
  • Smith George William. Pte. (d.14th Jun 1944)
  • Smith LM.
  • Sopwith Ivan Gerald. Capt. (d.17th Sep 1944)
  • Stanness John. Pte.
  • Stevenson Benjamin. Pte. (d.28th April 1944)
  • Stockel Victor Issac. Sgt.
  • Stokes Benjamin. Pte. (d.9th March 1943)
  • Stokes Joseph. Pte.
  • Stokes Joseph. Pte.
  • Stone HWT.
  • Stothard James. Pte.
  • Strickley Richard. Pte. (d.25th April 1944)
  • Swann Charles Henry. Pte. (d.14th Jun 1944)
  • Taylor Frank Verdun . L/Cpl.
  • Tedford Thomas. L/Cpl. (d.14th Jun 1944)
  • Thomas Glyndwr. Pte. (d.13th July 1944)
  • Thompson Allan. Pte. (d.26th May 1940)
  • Thompson Jack. Pte. (d.4th Oct 1944)
  • Thompson Jack. Pte.
  • Timms Ernest.
  • Tolan John. Pte.
  • Tranter John Thomas. Cpl. (d.14th Jun 1944)
  • Trotter JW.
  • Tucker Albert Adolphus. Pte. (d.5th Oct 1944)
  • Turnbull R.. Pte.
  • Turner Lewis Albert. Cpl. (d.14th Jun 1944)
  • Vernon Joseph Sands. Pte. (d.14th Jun 1944)
  • Waite Harry. Pte
  • Wall Joseph Michael. Sgt.
  • Wallace Harry. Private
  • Walton Francis James. Pte. (d.8th Feb 1941)
  • Walton George Geordie. Pte.
  • Walton Noble. Sgt.
  • Ward Kenneth. Pte.
  • Warf Norman. Pte.
  • Watson George. L/Cpl.
  • Watson George. L/Cpl. (d.14th Jun 1944)
  • Welsh Joseph. Cpl. (d.2nd Nov 1942)
  • Westby Joseph. Pte.
  • Wheatley GE.
  • Wheeler Thomas John. Pte. (d.20th Aug 1944)
  • White Michael. Pte. (d.20th October 1940)
  • Whiteford James. Pte.
  • Williams John Llewellyn. Lt.
  • Willis Thomas Marshall. Sgt.
  • Wills Robert George. L/Sgt.
  • Wilson John Edward. Pte. (d.30th Jan 1944)
  • Wood James. Pte. (d.8th Dec 1944)
  • Woods Humphrey Reginald. Lt.Col.
  • Worth Albert William. Pte.
  • Wright Harold. Pte. (d.23rd Dec 1941)
  • Wright Joseph Alan.
  • Wrighton Thomas James William. Pte. (d.14th Jun 1944)
  • Young Joseph William. Sgt. (d.14th Jun 1944)
  • Young Thomas.

The names on this list have been submitted by relatives, friends, neighbours and others who wish to remember them, if you have any names to add or any recollections or photos of those listed, please Add a Name to this List

Antwerps Proposed Free Port

Our Antwerp correspondent writes that even before the War, Belgium was considering the erection of a free port at Antwerp similar to those existing at Bremen and Hamburg. The fact that goods could be sent to these two last-named ports and stored in them free of all duties led to their becoming the chief continental markets for wool, coffee, cotton, etc.

There is a proposal now before the French Senate to establish a free port at Havre and Dunkirk. This has caused quite a stir in Belgian ship-ping circles. It is now proposed to establish a neutral tone at Antwerp where all goods could come in duty-free. This would significantly improve Antwerp's position as one of the foremost European porta of entry, but the project has not met the government's approval.

Hitler occupies France and Low Lands in October 1939

Post by Von Schadewald » 22 Dec 2020, 14:31

WI Hitler first strikes west and invades France, Belgium and Holland in September 1939?

With the French, Belgians and Dutch totally surprised and with no BEF on the ground, he reaches the Channel coast even quicker than in May 1940.

The Soviets attempt to invade Poland, but without the Germans they are held by the Poles as in 1920.

With the Germans controlling France and the Low Lands, what do Chamberlain and Roosevelt do?

Re: Hitler occupies France and Low Lands in October 1939

Post by lahoda » 27 Dec 2020, 20:25

Re: Hitler occupies France and Low Lands in October 1939

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 11 Jan 2021, 20:38

Re: Hitler occupies France and Low Lands in October 1939

Post by Futurist » 12 Jan 2021, 07:53

Re: Hitler occupies France and Low Lands in October 1939

Post by nuyt » 12 Jan 2021, 09:34

Re: Hitler occupies France and Low Lands in October 1939

Post by pugsville » 12 Jan 2021, 10:00

WI Hitler first strikes west and invades France, Belgium and Holland in September 1939?

With the French, Belgians and Dutch totally surprised and with no BEF on the ground, he reaches the Channel coast even quicker than in May 1940.

The Soviets attempt to invade Poland, but without the Germans they are held by the Poles as in 1920.

With the Germans controlling France and the Low Lands, what do Chamberlain and Roosevelt do?

Without French forces advancing into Belgian and Holland the sickle cut strategy does work. The German are not striking at the weak flank with most of teh best most mobile divisions already advanced in Belgium and Holland, thus trapped in pocket. There is defensive forces along teh French border and mobile reserves now uncommitted.

German forces are much weaker than may 1940, less expernced (Poland campaign helped to fix up some problems and hone the machinery)

Having stopped the French form doing the historical mistake that lead to the rapid defeat, and attacking with a weaker force, why should the Germans experience rapid success?

Re: Hitler occupies France and Low Lands in October 1939

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 13 Jan 2021, 06:15

You meant to say 'does not work'. ?

Beyond that the "Sickle Cut Strategy' did not exist in October/November 1939. After a series of map exercises or war-games run 7 November 39 Halder began to favor placing the Schwerpunckt with Army Group A, hence in the Ardennes, but this was a very long way from the operational plan that evolved over the next six months.

Re: Hitler occupies France and Low Lands in October 1939

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 13 Jan 2021, 06:49

Depends on which game model is used. Most don't provide any improvement of the French military capability or industrial base. You are stuck with the mobilization model of 1939. Perhaps with some small allowance for a increase in formations. The player is not given choices like putting more time into training vs spending the winter digging trenches, or altering the readiness posture of the air force by changing the plan for exchanging new aircraft for the obsolescent models. Locking the French component into the historical decisions guarantees a collapse as the designers usually give the German player more flexibility in adapting his forces. The few examples I've seen that give the French player some options can lead to significantly better outcomes.

In operational terms the Allied position in the spring of 1940 is somewhat more difficult. The Dutch Army effectively no longer exists, and the Belgian army is at best crippled. This eliminates some 20+ infantry & motorized divisions from the Allied OB. This is a big problem as a battle front extending from the west end of the Maginot line at Longwy to the coast is a bit longer and much more open in terrain. Conversely the French army should have some combat experience from the autumn and winter battles. But, that brings us back to the game systems or models not often having a mechanism for showing that.

Where I have experimented with tweaking Allied capabilities it often does not take a lot to stuff German offensives. Upgrade the Series B formations by allowing for a winter training program & the crossing of the Meuse River by the Panzer Corps becomes a riskier operation. Not having 30 to 40% of the French AF stood down for conversion to new aircraft is a big one. Even with obsolescent aircraft having the full strength or even 85% strength positioned for battle in early May makes it much more difficult for the German AF.

Re: Hitler occupies France and Low Lands in October 1939

Post by nuyt » 13 Jan 2021, 18:24

Re: Hitler occupies France and Low Lands in October 1939

Post by pugsville » 13 Jan 2021, 23:22

You meant to say 'does not work'. ?

Beyond that the "Sickle Cut Strategy' did not exist in October/November 1939. After a series of map exercises or war-games run 7 November 39 Halder began to favor placing the Schwerpunckt with Army Group A, hence in the Ardennes, but this was a very long way from the operational plan that evolved over the next six months.

Re: Hitler occupies France and Low Lands in October 1939

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 15 Jan 2021, 16:41

They effectively did not exist in October 1940. In Poland small teams & individuals were deployed. All in ops run by the Brandenburg organization.

The Dutch were certainly a bit less armed and ready, but not much. And if the airborne assault on The Hague failed as miserably as in 1940 (or even worse), or the Panzers were a bit slower and less experienced than in 1940 and/or the Luftwaffe would refrain from bombing an important city center in 1939, well, then the Dutch might cling on for more days in a similar fashion as I described in another thread (A German invasion in 1914). This might have given the Allies and especially the Brits the opportunity to send reinforcements to the NL from the RAF and Army.
And then the Germans are s****d.

The Brits had nothing to send in October 1939, other than a half formed corps with inadequate logistics support. The French likewise were far less prepared. Their initial version of the Dyle Plan included only one French army, the 1st. The 2d, 7th, and the BEF effectively did not exist. There was only a single armored division the 1st DLM, four other DLM & DCR existed on paper, but had not completed organizing nor training, or equipping. The cavalry divisions were still predominantly horse cavalry, not yet reorganizing to mechanized formations as they were still doing in May 1940. So, at best the French can organize a single armored corps of the 1st DLM & one or two motorized infantry divisions to deal with 3-4 German armored corps.

The German army and air force of 1939 had a lot of flaws, but after the Polish campaign it was a order of magnitude ahead of the opposition. The weak conscript training and wholly inadequate doctrines for mobile war and anti tank defense made the defenders very vulnerable.

Where I've seen this played out on the game board the character is different from 1940. While the German armored attacks badly disrupt the Dutch and Belgians they did not carry though in a few days. It took several weeks of fighting to finish off the pair, but the outcome is near inevitable. The one thing that can screw the attacker is a wet autumn. If the rains are large enough it sinks everyone into the mud. OTL I don't think that condition was achieved, tho there were some very muddy days.

Re: Hitler occupies France and Low Lands in October 1939

Post by nuyt » 15 Jan 2021, 16:52

Thanks Carl, very interesting, so the tank/infantry attack takes weeks instead of days and there is no airborne attack in the rear. If the Dutch can hold out for weeks in their "redoubt" behind the Grebbelines, that would be interesting. Without having to watch their back they can send reinforcements from the west more quickly too (and OTL they had a lot in reserve and relatively good troops too). On the other hand, they will have to wait long for (British) help, or if it comes it will be modest. Maybe the Belgians can hold out in Antwerp too. They will not receive French aid though in this case, p****n!.

As for the weather: it would be a cold winter with waterways and lakes freezing over.

Re the German Army after the Polish campaign: would the lessons from that one already have been absorbed? After all, the campaign was not over till Oct 6th?

Re: Hitler occupies France and Low Lands in October 1939

Post by Carl Schwamberger » 15 Jan 2021, 17:18

There would not be time to run through any comprehensive training on these lessons. Whatever could applied would be on the fly.

The largest difference between this & 1940 would be the armored corps are still tied to army operations. Guderian's concept of a large concentrated "strategic" group of 2-4 corps was not yet accepted. Plus I'm unsure it was understood how to make that work. There were a lot of map and field exercises run during the winter of 1939-1940 that enabled Panzer Group Kliest to be a effective operational or strategic weapon. So its likely in this October attack you have 3-4 armored corps assigned separately to more limited army or army group objectives, as in Poland. Once the industrial cities of eastern Belgium, like Liege, Louvain, Brussels, ect are captured or isolated, the Dutch penned into Fortress Holland then its a matter of time before the terror bombings, the mass of ground forces, and artillery consolidate the German position in the low countries. The armored forces can then retire into reserve and ponder the lessons of two back to back campaigns.

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