Saturday, June 5, 2010

Day 279 June 5, 1940

At 5 AM, Germany begins the second phase of the conquest of France (“Fall Rot”), attacking South across the Somme and Aisne rivers with 130 divisions plus 10 Panzer divisions reequipped with fresh tanks. In contrast, France has lost 30 of its best divisions (and the BEF) along with most of its vehicles and armour. French CiC General Weygand has only 66 divisions, including 17 in the fortified Maginot Line defenses, to hold a front longer than before the invasion. He organizes a series of strongpoints bristling with artillery & anti-tank guns (the “Weygand Line”) in woods and villages along the Somme and Aisne rivers joining the Maginot Line at Montmédy. These ‘hedgehogs’ confuse the Germans & hold their initial advance to 10km.

At 11.18 PM, U-48 shells British armed merchant Stancor (300 tons of fish) 80 miles Northwest of Scotland. All 19 crew (10 in a lifeboat and 9 picked up by British trawler Kinaldie) make land on Isle of Lewis.

French soldiers evacuated from Dunkirk are returned via channel ports still under French control. To reinforce Weygand, Churchill also sends Canadian 1st Infantry Division to France, joining parts of British 1st Armoured Division & 51st Highland Division which avoided encirclement at Dunkirk.

French Prime Minister Reynaud ousts his nemesis ex-PM Daladier and reshuffles his Cabinet. Charles de Gaulle, promoted to General on May 25, is made Under-Secretary for Defense.

Evacuation of Narvik. Another 4900 Allied troops board transport ships.

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