Saturday, May 15, 2010

Day 259 May 16, 1940

Churchill flies to Paris to assess the situation and confer with French PM Reynaud. He finds French officials burning government archives. Churchill asks “Where is the strategic reserve”? French Commander-in-Chief General Gamelin replies “Aucune” (“There is none”). Reynaud replaces Gamelin and recalls WWI veteran Maxime Weygand from obscurity in Syria.

The Panzers of Rundstedt’s Army Group A race out of their bridgeheads on the Meuse, cutting through the weaker parts of the French Army left to defend this region. French morale and resistance crumble as thousands of soldiers surrender. Guderian reaches Montcornet, 64km West of Sedan. Rommel drives another 35km from Cerfontaine, advancing through the night to Avesnes-sur-Helpe. German high command gets nervous about the extended flanks of this salient. Overnight, they order the tanks to hold while the infantry catches up.

Despite the amazing success of the Panzers in Northern France, the French actually have more and better tanks than Germany. Demonstrating the strength of French armour, Char B1 Bis tank 'Eure' engages Guderian’s Panzers at Stonne, destroying 2 Pz IV, and 11 Pz II. 'Eure' survives hit 140 times by 20mm, 37mm and 75mm shells.

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