Battle of France & World Events Timeline

(May 10, 1940 - June 22, 1940)

 

Introduction


In six weeks Germany defeated the worlds best army - the French - conquered Norway, Belgium, Holland, and Luxembourg, and drove the British Army from the continent.  Although France had more tanks and of higher quality, German tactics and doctrine proved to be far superior than the Allies plan for a static defense.  By using a new form of combined-arms combat labeled blitzkrieg, the Germans swept away all resistance in their path. This is a day-by-day account of how that happened.

 

Timeline


May 10, 1940

Time Event
0300 Adolf Hitler arrives at his bunker near Aachen, Germany, to direct operation Fall Gelb (Case Yellow), the attack on western Europe. 
0400 German forces begin operation "Sichelschnitt" (Sickle Stroke), a surprise assault against Holland, Luxembourg, Belgium, and France. 
0430 Fleets of Luftwaffe bombers and fighters take off to attack western Europe. 
0445 German parachute and airborne forces secure key bridges Rotterdam, Dordrecht, and Moerdijk, and at Maastricht.
0500 77 German men in 10 DFS230 gliders descend on Belgium's Fort Eban Emael. Eight gliders land on the fort.
0501 76 German divisions cross a 175-mile front into Holland, Belgium, and Luxembourg.
0520 Fort Eban Emael is neutralized.
Daytime 32 British Battle bombers attack German columns in Luxembourg. 13 are shot down; all others are damaged.
Daytime Luxembourg surrenders.
1800 At Buckingham Palace, London, England, King George VI asks Winston Churchill to form a new government.
Evening Britain's prime minister Chamberlain resigns. Winston Churchill becomes new Prime Minister. 
Midnight British Prime Minister Churchill completes the forming of his government.

 May 11, 1940

Time Event
0800 Fort Eban Emael is taken with the arrival of German ground troops.
Daytime 8 British Battles bombers attack German columns entering Luxembourg. 7 are shot down
Daytime Hermann Göring demands that the Swedes allow passage of trains to Norway.  He is refused.
Daytime Churchill gives Bomber Command permission to bomb Berlin.

May 12, 1940

Time Event
Dawn Nine British Blenheim bombers attack German column on the Maastricht - Tongres road. Seven are shot down. 
Dawn Five British Battle bombers attack bridges over the Albert Canal. They break one bridge, but four planes are shot down. 
Morning A British Royal Navy battleship accidentally strikes anti-submarine trawler Ypres, sinking it. All 18 crew members survive.
Morning 24 British Blenheim bombers attack bridges and roads in Maastricht. 10 bombers are shot down. 

May 13, 1940

Time Event
Morning A single Belgian bomber with 2 escorts attempts to destroy the Moerdijk bridge and delay German forces. The attack fails.
Afternoon Queen Wilhelmina escapes from the Netherlands and arrives in England
Evening German General Erwin Rommel's 7th Panzer Division crosses the Meuse River at Dinant.
Evening British Prime Minister Churchill delivers his famous "Blood, Sweat, and Tears" speach.
Evening German General Heinz Guderian's XIX Armored Corps crosses the Meuse River at Sedan. 
Night British Prime Minister Churchill contacts American President Roosevelt asking him for assistance.

May 14, 1940

Time Event
Morning German aircraft bomb Rotterdam, Holland. 30,000 civilians are killed.
Morning 63 British Battle bombers and 8 Blenheim bombers raid German bridgeheads over the Meuse River. 40 planes are shot down.
Daytime Great Britain War Office calls for Local Defense Volunteers, later renamed The Home Guard.
Daytime General Charles de Gaul's 4th Army counter-attacks German bridgeheads on the Meuse but is driven back.

May 15, 1940

Time Event
Morning French Premier Paul Reynaud tells British Prime Minister Winston Churchill: "We have been defeated; we have lost the battle".
Morning The Dutch King flees to England and surrenders Holland  to Germany.
Morning British Prime Minister Churchill tells US President Roosevelt "I think myself the battle on land has only just begun."
Morning Churchill sends Roosevelt first telegram asking to buy American surplus aircraft and ships.
Daytime Rommel's panzers clash with French armor at Phillippeville  in first major tank battle of the war.
Daytime The British War Cabinet gives Bomber Command permission to bomb the Ruhr area of Germany, east of the Rhine.
Daytime A concentration camp for Poles is begins construction in Auschwitz.
Evening French Premier Reynaud calls Churchill asking for all the troops and planes he can send.
Evening French General Gamelin orders a retreat of forces from Belgium.
Evening 96 Wellington, Whitley, and Hampden bombers attack industrial targets east of the Rhine river. Only one plane is lost.

May 16, 1940

Time Event
Morning Churchill flies to Belgium where General Gamelin informs him that the battle is lost.
Daytime United States President Roosevelt asks Congress for $285 million for defense spending.
Daytime German forces destroy Corap's 9h Army and advance 50 miles to Rethel.
Daytime British Prime Minister Churchill provides an extra 10 fighter squadrons to help France, with six operating out of Kent.
Night Churchill flies back to England, dejected by the situation on the mainland.

May 17, 1940

Time Event
Morning 12 British Blenheim bombers attack advancing German columns near Gembloux. 11 planes are shot down.
Daytime German panzers reach the Serre River in France, then stop.
Evening British bombers make their first attack on Hamburg, Germany, with 48 Hampdens attacking oil refineries.

May 18, 1940

Time Event
Morning German forces at the Serre River in France start moving again, heading north away from Paris.
Daytime German forces capture the city of Antwerp.
Daytime German forces capture the city of St. Quentin.
Daytime German forces under Guderian capture Perrone on the Somme.
Daytime The Swedish Council on Foreign Relations of the Swedish Cabinet rules against the transit of arms for Germany.

May 19, 1940

Time Event
Daytime French General Gamelin orders an attack into the southern flank of German General Guderian's Panzer corps.
Night British Wellington bombers attack Bremen and Hamburg, two major German cities.

May 20, 1940

Time Event
Daytime German forces reach the sea near Abbeville, France, splitting Allied forces and trapping much of it in a pocket.
Daytime German forces under Guderian capture Abbeville.
Evening French General Gamelin is fired. General Maxime Weygand is brought in to replace him.

May 21, 1940

Time Event
Daytime Allies break the Enigma code that had been changed three weeks ago.
Daytime Lord Gort launches an attack on the Germans at Arras but is repulsed after heavy fighting.

May 22, 1940

Time Event
Daytime Churchill and Weygand meet in Paris and decide on a strategy to save the city. 
Daytime French attack near Arras is beaten back. 

May 23, 1940

Time Event
Morning Boulogne, France, falls to German troops.
Daytime German forces set siege to Calais, France.
Daytime French General Weygand, while flying to the front lines and regain control of his demoralized forces, is shot down. He survives.

May 24, 1940

Time Event
Morning RCN destroyers Restigouche, St. Laurent, Skeena, and Fraser head to the United Kingdom to aid the Royal Navy.
Morning German Field Marshal von Rundstedt orders for his panzer divisions to halt their advance in France for resupply.
Daytime The Allied Expeditionary Force withdraws completely from Norway.
Daytime At Bjerkvik, Norway, north of Narvik, three battalions of French alpine troops and a Norwegian battalion land, for an assault on Narvik. 

May 25, 1940

Time Event
Daytime The city of Boulogne is captured by the Germans.
Evening British commander Gort cancels a planned advance to the south, and orders his troops north, so they can embark for England.

May 26, 1940

Time Event
Daytime The city of Calais is captured by the Germans.

May 27, 1940

Time Event
Dawn German forces in France begin their advance again.
Daytime British 1st Armored Division attacks near the city of Abbeville, but is forced to retreat after heavy losses from German artillery.
Morning Belgium formally surrenders to Germany. 
Morning Evacuation of Allied troops from Dunkirk, France, across the English Channel begins.

May 28, 1940

Time Event
Morning French General Béthouart leads a force from Bjerkvik on Narvik, Norway.
Daytime Polish troops attack Narvik, Norway, from south of the village. 
Daytime French 4th Armored Division, lead by General de Gaulle, attacks Abbeville, but the attack fails.
Daytime Belgian King Leopold officially surrenders his country to Germany.
Evening Allied troops complete taking Narvik, Norway.

May 29, 1940

Time Event

May 30, 1940

Time Event

May 31, 1940

Time Event
Daytime Churchill flies to Paris to meet with Marshal August Pétain who announces he is willing to make a seperate peace with Germany

June 1, 1940

Time Event

June 2, 1940

Time Event
Evening The last of the British Expedition Force is evacuated from Dunkirk, France.  A total of 338,000 Allied troops were saved. 

June 3, 1940

Time Event
Daytime Norwegian and Swedish foreign ministers sign an agreement for Sweden to take control of the Narvik area. 
Daytime German bombers bomb Paris.
Daytime German forces in France move south toward Paris.

June 4, 1940

Time Event
Morning German battle cruisers Scharnhorst and Gneisenau, and cruiser Hipper set out from Kiel to attack Allied forces.
Evening British Prime Minister Churchill makes his "We shall fight on the beaches..." speech to Parliament.

June 5, 1940

Time Event
Daytime German forces begin their attack on the French army at the Somme.
Evening French General Beaufrère surrenders the remaining French troops defending Dunkirk.
Night German forces begin night reconnaissance over Britain.

June 6, 1940

Time Event
Daytime British Prime Minister Churchill proposes the development of a parachute troop corps with 5000 men.

June 7, 1940

Time Event
Morning The Norwegian government flees to England.
Daytime German troops capture the Norwegian city of Narvik from the Allies.
Daytime The Norwegian government ceases hostilities with Germany.

June 8, 1940

Time Event
Morning French troops evacuate the Somme region.
Daytime The French town of Rouen falls to German forces. 
Evening The last British and French forces leave Norway. 

June 9, 1940

Time Event
Daytime Norway falls to the Germans. King Haakon flees to London, England.

June 10, 1940

Time Event
Morning Norway officially surrenders to the Germans.
Daytime The French government leaves Paris for Tours.
Daytime Italy declares war on England and France. 

June 11, 1940

Time Event
Morning The French city of Reims falls to German forces.
Daytime Italian aircraft attack French bases in Africa.
Daytime Churchill flies to France where he meets with the French Supreme War Council in Briare.
Daytime The French demand Britain send more fighters to France.  Dowding refuses saying that victory will come over the skies of Britain.
Daytime Churchill obtained promises from French Navy Admiral Darlan that the Navy would not fall into German hands. 
Daytime Paris, France, is declared an open city. 
Night From bases in the Channel Island, 32 R.A.F. Whitely bombers attack the Italian city of Turin and bomb the Fiat factories.

June 12, 1940

Time Event

June 13, 1940

Time Event
Daytime U.S. President Roosevelt signs $1.3 billion defense spending bill. 
Daytime French Premier Paul Reynaud publicly broadcasts an appeal for American intervention.
Daytime Spain's Generalissimo Franco changes Spain's status from neutral to nonbelligerent.

June 14, 1940

Time Event
Morning German troops enter Paris. General von Studnitz leads the 87th Infantry Division in a victory march through the city.
Morning In Brest, France, British General Brooke orders Canadian forces to withdraw from France.
Daytime Spain sends a 3,000-man force to occupy the former international city of Tangier, a port of Morocco.

June 15, 1940

Time Event
Morning In convoy HX-48, German submarine U-38 torpedoes and sinks Canadian merchant ship Erik Boye near Land's End.
Daytime The Maginot Line is attacked and broken at Saarbrucken and Colmar

June 16, 1940

Time Event
Morning French Premier Reynaud, whose government was in exile, resigns.
Daytime British battleship Revenge arrives in Halifax, Canada, with 40 million Pounds Sterling in gold, for safekeeping.
Daytime Germany forms its first specialized night-fighter plane unit.
Daytime Marshal Henri Pétain takes over the government of France.

June 17, 1940

Time Event
Morning France requests an armistice with Germany.
Evening Churchill decides de Gaulle should be recognized as speaking for France, not Marshal Pétain.
Night British Bomber Command launches 138 aircraft on Germany, primarily on oil targets. Only one plane does not return.

June 18, 1940

Time Event
Morning In Canada, Prime Minister Mackenzie King introduces the National Resources Mobilization Act in the House of Commons.
Morning Germany threatens action if  Swedish railways don't permit transport of German troops and supplies to Norway. 
Daytime Sweden receives notice from Britain indicating that Britain might have to make peace with Germany. 
Daytime Churchill speaks to Parliament: “What General Weygand called the Battle of France is over.  The Battle of Britain is about to begin.” 
Daytime French General de Gaulle becomes the leader of "Free France". He refuses to acknowledge Vichy France as a government.
Daytime Russian forces invade the Baltic States.
Evening The Swedish government agrees to allow German troops to pass from Sweden to Norway, via Swedish railways. 
Evening General de Gaulle broadcasts on BBC radio, appealing to French soldiers to join him and fight on for France. 
Night RAF bombers attack Bremen and Hamburg.

June 19, 1940

Time Event
Night 30 British Blenheim bombers raid German airfields at Rouen and Amiens. All aircraft return.

June 20, 1940

Time Event
Daytime Italy launches an offensive on the Alpine front in the south of France.
Daytime The British Air Ministry sends a directive to Bomber Command, instructing it to focus attacks on German aircraft.
Night 47 British Blenheim bombers raid German airfields at Rouen and Schipol. All aircraft return.

June 21, 1940

Time Event

June 22, 1940

Time Event
Daytime France formally surrenders to Germany.
Evening England, with 25 squadrons of fighters against a much larger Luftwaffe, now stands completely alone against Nazism.

 

Equipment


  Germany France UK Belgian Dutch Total Allies
Total Divisions : 136 104 15 22 11 152
Total 1st Class  Divisions : 76 69 10 10 4 93
Total 2nd Class Divisions : 26 11  5 12 7 30
Motorized Infantry Divisions : 7 10
Tank Divisions : 10
Airborne Divisions : 1
All Tanks : 2438 3254 640 270 40 4204
Artillery Pieces : 7378 10700 1280 1338 656 13974
Combat Aircraft : 3369 3562 1246 102 71 4981

Note: The Allies out-numbered the Germans in light and medium tanks by a ratio of about 2:1, although the German light tanks were considered superior to the Allies, while the Allied medium tanks were considered superior to the Germans. Germany possessed no heavy tanks at this time, while the Allies had several hundred.

 

Casualties


Nation Prisoners Wounded Killed
Germany 0 111,034 27,074
Italy 0
France 1,900,000 200,000 92,000
England 68,000
Holland 6,889 2890
Belgium 23,350

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