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  #1  
Old 09-27-2009, 04:31 PM
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Default Historical Kalisz-type Scenarios

I'm currently in a cycle of my WWII Ostfront/Great Patriotic War phase but, as usual, I keep coming back to T2K.

In reading about the German 9th Army's [in name only] attempt to break out of the encirclement of Berlin through the Spree forest, I thought about what a great example it was of a Kalisz-like scenario. The 9th Army was, during the breakout, a conglomeration of ad-hoc and miss-matched units from various Armies, Corps, Divisions, and Kampfgruppen, including Werhmacht, Luftwaffe, Waffen SS, and Volksturm units and thousands of civilian refugees. It was surrounded by overwhelmingly superior Soviet forces and hammered day and night by artillery and air strikes and bits and pieces of it had to fight themselves free or die trying.

This got me thinking about using the T2K game rules to run such a scenario and from there, to other similar scenarios from history. I want to keep the same basic theme of mixed-up units, little conventional C&C/rank structure, overwhelming odds against, behind enemy lines, trying to escape.

I've come up with a couple so far:

Allied Airborne units during the first couple of days of the Normandy invasion.

Long-range Desert Group in North Africa.

German units fighting out of the Cherkassy-Korsun pocket in early '44.

Any others that come to mind? I can think of ones from earlier in history, but I wouldn't know how to use the T2K rules to play a scenario set in any period before the widespread use of firearms.
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Old 09-27-2009, 04:57 PM
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- Chindits in Burma (1944).

- The French in indochina or Algeria. As a matter of fact most colonial wars including the one fought by Portugal up to 1975.

- Why not the British attempt at invading Afghanistan in 1878-1880 and, of course, the soviet intervention of 1979-1989.

- The Boer war in South Africa (essentially the second one, theone that ended in 1902).

- Port Arthur in 1904-1905.

- The events at Dunkirk (1940).

- The arabic campaign of 1914-1918 (the one that saw Lawrence of Arabia).

- Many events after the taking over of Russia by the Bolcheviks (essentialy in 1919-1920). After 1921, the situation change and the white are those in trouble.

- The battle for Port Moresby may be also plus the attack on Singapore and part of the campaign in the Dutch Indies. Not to forget the US fight in the Philippines.

- If you feel like playing the bad guys you can include Manstein defense after the fall of Stalingrad (I think it was during the winter 1943). The guy defeated the soiviets with second line German units, Hungarians and Romanians.

That's all for now but exemples could be endless.
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Old 09-27-2009, 06:11 PM
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You guys beat me to the 1940 French campaign and the Desert, and the Russian Civil War. Lots of encirclements by both sides on the Eastern Front. Americans and Filipinos behind Japanese lines, or Commonwealth soldiers in Burma or Malaya. For patrol-style actions, any of the South/Southwest Pacific island battles.

Someone once suggested "Twilight:200" being Roman legionaries, auxiliaries (recruited from across the Empire, of course), and/or civilians cut off behind some barbarian invasion. I agree, you might want a different rules set.

I've wanted to do a T2k-rules game in post-WW1 Eastern Europe or Siberia; or a Merc-style commando game against Nazi-occupied Norway or France. Merc-style meaning in & out jobs, not a long-term survival game.

I recently read a book on Robert Rogers and the Rangers (French & Indian War, or Seven Years' War) in North America, 1755-1763. That, or any guerrilla war, really, would qualify for action in Twilight style.
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Old 09-27-2009, 09:41 PM
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New Guinea in 1942-43 (?) would be ideal. Starting with the Japanese offensive southward across the mountains along the Kokoda track opposed by a mere handful of Australians, through to the assaults and recapture of the Buna and Gona areas on the north coast a few months later.
Virtually all units involved were short on ammo, food, fuel (for the half dozen or so vehicles involved), and especially, healthy soldiers (almost every last soldier from all sides suffered terribly from a variety of tropical diseases).
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Old 09-27-2009, 11:01 PM
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The Maori Wars: the Waikato and Taranaki Campaigns, Redcoats and Von Tempsky's Forest Rangers vs Maori guerilla forces such as those led by the legendary Maori war chief Te Kingi.
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Old 09-28-2009, 12:18 AM
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Any of the Comando operations in WWII.

The raid on the ports in Norway. The raid on the French Port where an old ship was run into the port and blown up.

The PCs can be guys who couldn't make it to the extraction point and now have to make it to wherever for safety.

Marines in the Makin or similiar raids. In this case a fictional raid on an unknown island. I actauly was prepping my players for this in my First Offensive campaign. They survived a few days of machinegunning Japanese and going hand to hand on Guadalacanal. Then they were releived to do some coast watching on one of the smaller outer islands. The campaign fizzled at that point.

Merrils Maruaders to go with Wingates Chindits. Those would be hellacious campaigns.

Or men who managed to elude capture early in the war, be they soldiers, civilians or sailors whose ships were sunk, or captured. Or even the old China Marines.

Another one to go with sailors who were beached, but also aircrewmen who had to bail out or crashland in enemy territory.

Meteorolgical team in the boonies who is found out. There was a movie with Richard Widmark about a naval team in Mongolia, but it actualy did happen, and the Germans also had a post in the N. Atlantic. You are part of a platoon, you are attacked <your numbers dwindle, and equipment destoryed> You and the survivors have to salvage what is left and get out of town before the followon forces show up.

Coastwatchers, a T2K version of Father Goose with Carey Grant.

A covert comando team. Much like the Italian frogmen who based out of an interned vessel in Spain and regularly attacked the British at Gibralter.


As was said, the campaigns of the 7 Years War,

Any of the expeditions into the frontier of the time, think Boone and Kenton and that era, with the British and French and all the various indian tribes. As well as other expeditions and companies. And lets not forget bandits and highwaymen too.

Anytime in the New World as one of the privatiers going after the Spanish settlements and vessels laden with riches. You were raiding ashore with your boat when a Spanish fleet arrived. You couldn't make it back to the ship so you took to the jungle and are now hunted.

Korea, the Winter of 1950, or even the Pusan Perimeter. You somehow got bipassed by the Reds and you need to make your way into either the Pusan Perimeter, or to the Port of Hamhung and the safety they offer.

Dien Bien Phu; you somehow make it out and are making for the safety of where? But becareful because the Viet Mihn are hot on your trail aided by many local tribes.

The Book, "The 5 Fingers" always wanted to do a campaign on that one.

Those are some of the campaigns I have thought of over the years.
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  #7  
Old 09-28-2009, 01:54 AM
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I forgot about the various resistance movements in Europe during WW2. In France why not but the most interesting would be in Poland, Russia or Serbia.

The russians were almost part of the regular army and they were collaborating with regular units (the cavalry we had been talkig of at some point).

In Yugoslavia, you'll find plenty of idea. Don't forget that Yugoslavian resistance movement were facing a full army corps (200.000 German soldiers and allies) and managed to free their country all by themselves (except for limited supplies by the Soviets and the allies).

The events in the gettho of warsaw are outstanding and despite ultimate failure it remains IMO one of the most impressive achievement in military history. About 60.000 people managing to resist 6 months in front of well equipped and brutal nazi troops. if you want to be even darker, you can think of Sobibor. Still in Warsaw, the uprising of 1944 is as outstanding and would have succeed if Stalin had not ordered the red army to sit and watch.

In a similar manner you can play Kurdish or Shiite in 1991 Iraq, facing a full offensive by Saddam's troops under the very nose of those who were involved in the first Gulf War (no politcal statement or judgement here, just a fact as these helicopters were allowed to operate over the no-fly zones). Your PCs will have to deal with attack helicopters and chemical weapons while having only infantry weapons at hands.
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Old 09-28-2009, 02:24 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mohoender View Post
In Yugoslavia, you'll find plenty of idea. Don't forget that Yugoslavian resistance movement were facing a full army corps (200.000 German soldiers and allies) and managed to free their country all by themselves (except for limited supplies by the Soviets and the allies).
Although not directly supported with troops etc, the Yugoslavs were assisted by events elsewhere in the continent. If the Germans were not occupied elsewhere, then that 200,000 strong corp is sure to have trounced them eventually.
Sure they contributed to the overall German defeat, but I rather doubt they'd have managed to free their country without the events occuring throughout the rest of the world.

Still, it does make an interesting setting.
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Old 09-28-2009, 04:01 AM
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Originally Posted by Legbreaker View Post
Although not directly supported with troops etc, the Yugoslavs were assisted by events elsewhere in the continent. If the Germans were not occupied elsewhere, then that 200,000 strong corp is sure to have trounced them eventually.
Sure they contributed to the overall German defeat, but I rather doubt they'd have managed to free their country without the events occuring throughout the rest of the world.

Still, it does make an interesting setting.
True but what you say is valid for every fight anywhere during ww2. Without the soviets, Europe would have fall to Nazi rule. Without US, Australia would have been crushed by Japan. Without the Allies finally landing in France, it would have been difficult for the Red Army to win. Without Australians holding Tobruk, Egypt and the Middle east after it would have been conquered by Rommel. Without the French Spahis from Morocco, casualties at Monte Cassino would have been much higher. And so on and so forth...

Last edited by Mohoender; 09-28-2009 at 04:07 AM.
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Old 09-28-2009, 08:57 AM
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Absolutely correct!

Nothing happens in isolation.
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  #11  
Old 09-28-2009, 05:04 PM
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Without US, Australia would have been crushed by Japan...
While the USA certainly made a difference in the region, I would dispute that Australia would have been crushed by the Japanese without the US. Trying to put aside any "Aussie pride", the Japanese were probably spread too thin to effectively damage Australia's ability to wage war and they would certainly have had a difficult time trying to invade mainland Australia.
We held our own more so because of our distance and isolation as well as being completely self-sufficient in primary resources (along with setting up our own aircraft and vehicle manufacture even to the point of designing and building our own medium tank, the Sentinel).
Where the US aid was really felt was in the mass supply of aircraft and tanks, something which our own facilities could not match and something which was more effective than the supply of such items to Australia from Great Britain (who arguably needed them for the war in Europe).
I for one am thoroughly sick to death of hearing how the US saved our arse in WW2 because it is simply not that simple and most certainly isn't correct when stated in such simplistic terms.
Okay, my rant is over now
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Old 09-28-2009, 06:11 PM
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Japan could never have occupied Australia, the Australians barely occupy it. It's huge, and the settlements are spread evenly around the coast. It's one of the great questions on why the Japanese tried to get where they did, they couldn't have achieved much.

The only strategic value would be inhibiting the use of Australian ports by US fleets, but the numeric advantage of the US fleets coupled with their ability to replace and add ships quickly made that impossible. All it would do would be to further lengthen supply lines, spread Japanese troops out more and made the collapse quicker. Japanese troops resorted to cannibalism in New Guinea in well documented cases; in fact some were executed after the war for it. This was a direct result of Japanese flawed strategic thinking; wishful campaigns that ignored logistics.
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Old 09-28-2009, 06:38 PM
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I agree with Chalk's assessment that the Japanese could never have fully conquered the vastness of Australia. In the absence of the U.S.N., however, the Japanese probably could have conquered the coastal population centers or blockaded them into some degree of submission. Trying to maintain control of said cities for any sustained period of time would have been extremely difficult, if not totally impossible, for the Japanese military. I foresee a "conquered" Australia quickly becoming Japan's Vietnam.

I'm not a flag-waving jingoist reactionary but I do take some umbrage at any attempt to discount America's contribution to the ultimate outcome of WWII in the Pacific. Simply being sick of something doesn't make it any less valid. I'm not sure the claim of Australia "holding [its] own" against Japan can be made with any credibility considering the massive involvement of the U.S. military in the Pacific Theater. That's like Americans claiming that they could have/would have won the war in Europe without the help of the Soviet Union. Really? Come on.

By all accounts, the Australian militiary contribution in North Africa and Italy was outstanding. Due to the U.K.-directed commonwealth system, the bulk of Australia's best units served in the ETO, though. According to Max Hastings' (a Brit) in Retribution, the performance of the Australian military in the Pacific, as her forces inched further from their home country/continent, was less than spectacular, if not highly suspect. Dockworker strikes in Australia also disrupted operations in the region. That dockworkers decided to go on strike in the middle of an ongoing World War- a war that directly threatened Australian sovereignty- is almost beyond belief. I haven't read that much specifically on the subject of Australia's military contribution in the PTO so I don't necessarily take Hasting's assessment entirely at face value but if what he writes is even partly true, it further discredits any claims that Australia could have "held [its] own" against the Imperial Japanese military.
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Old 09-28-2009, 08:11 PM
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Take as much umbrage as you want because I wasn't discounting the US effort in the Pacific at all, what I stated was that I take umbrage at those people who claim that Australia would have been speaking Japanese if it wasn't for the US saving our arse.
The fact is, that both the US and Great Britain plus Australia herself (geographically as much as militarily), prevented the Japanese from taking over Australia.
While the Japanese may have been able to blockade Australian ports, it would have been next to useless as they could not have stopped the flow of supplies from landlines to those ports. What they would have achieved was the temporary prevention of some supplies being received/sent from those ports but within a short enough period of time other ports would have been used. The country is so vast the Japanese would not have had enough ships to permanently blockade enough Australian ports to prevent us from receiving supplies from Great Britain and the US.
The port of Fremantle in Western Australia was one of the most significant ports in Australian wartime use and if the Japanese had succeeded in doing any damage to that port, the next port in Bunbury would have been used and then after that it would have been Albany. Bunbury is approximately 100km away from Fremantle and Albany about 1200km away from Fremantle. Australia's geography alone helped prevent some Japanese ambitions.
The Australian policy of 'Scorched Earth' which would see the complete destruction of all resources and infrastructure would have further made any territory conquered by Japan a hollow victory.
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Old 09-28-2009, 09:50 PM
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Nobody in Australia would dispute that it was the USA's efforts that won the war in the Pacific, but saying that Australia held its own against the Japanese in no way discounts America's winning of the Pacific war. No one is suggesting that Australia could have beaten the Japanese in the Pacific by ourselves but we most certainly could have beaten them here in Australia.

As for the quality of Australia's forces fighting in the Pacific theatre, just take a look at the Kokoda campaign. Poorly trained, poorly equipped Australian militia forces (not even regular army) performed EXTREMELY well in Papua New Guinea against the Japanese Imperial Army. We thumped the Japanese, mostly through sheer grit, toughness and determination.

We would have done even better against the Japanese if it wasn't for the gutless British generals who totally botched the defence of Singapore. Had it been up to Australia's military commanders there is no way in hell we would have surrendered all those thousands of Australian troops in Singapore. Absolutely pathetic bloody decision by the British. Many hundreds of Australian troops tried to get back to Australia by themselves rather than surrender. The Australian officers on the ground should have allowed any Australian who wanted to withdraw to do so.
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Old 09-28-2009, 10:27 PM
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While the USA certainly made a difference in the region, I would dispute that Australia would have been crushed by the Japanese without the US. Trying to put aside any "Aussie pride", the Japanese were probably spread too thin to effectively damage Australia's ability to wage war and they would certainly have had a difficult time trying to invade mainland Australia.
Sorry but that simply a matter of mathematics. If the USA had not been party to the war, Australia couldn't have done much. Nobody would have been there to stop their navy as the Royal Navy was already lying at the bottom of the sea. Then, Japan could send at least 500.000 troops to Australia. I didn't say it would have been easy, I simply said it would have been inevitable.

However, Leg perfectly got the point. Everything else is a detail. By the way, US didn't save the world in WW2, it simply contributed to it. If it had not done it, it would have fall as the rest of the world, simply later. Two entities contributed more than the others and were the two saviors IMO: Commonwealth and later the Soviet Union (but I already said that numerous times).
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Old 09-28-2009, 10:33 PM
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Japan could never have occupied Australia, the Australians barely occupy it. It's huge, and the settlements are spread evenly around the coast. It's one of the great questions on why the Japanese tried to get where they did, they couldn't have achieved much.
Yes but you only needed to massacre about 3 million people. (only one fourth of those killed by the hollocaust alone). Then, their intention might have simply been to get Australia out of the war. Oops! that was 7 million (one tenth of the Japanese population at the time).

Last edited by Mohoender; 09-28-2009 at 11:54 PM.
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Old 09-28-2009, 11:00 PM
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As for the quality of Australia's forces fighting in the Pacific theatre, just take a look at the Kokoda campaign. Poorly trained, poorly equipped Australian militia forces (not even regular army) performed EXTREMELY well in Papua New Guinea against the Japanese Imperial Army. We thumped the Japanese, mostly through sheer grit, toughness and determination.
This is valid for Australians anywhere (and in both world wars). Their resistance at Tobruk was impressive if not outstanding. No doubt that without Australia, US would have had greater difficulties to win in the Pacific.
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Old 09-28-2009, 11:04 PM
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One last point Stainless.

You wrote the following under the thread "People of the world":

And lastly, we have a very bad tendency to encourage free speech except when you criticize something Australian (then you are evil, unAustralian or a bloody foreign troublemaker).

If I had any doubts about it, these are gone. Actually, that goes even a little further, LOL.
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Old 09-28-2009, 11:04 PM
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This is valid for Australians anywhere (and in both world wars). Their resistance at Tobruk was impressive if not outstanding. No doubt that without Australia, US would have had greater difficulties to win in the Pacific.
My paternal grandfather was a Captain in the New Zealand Army during WWII and fought at Tobruk and El Alamain leading a Bren gun carrier company. His war ended when he had half of his moustache shot off and needed facial surgery and rehab. By the time he was fit to fight again the war was almost over. It was his father, New Zealand Minister of Works Bob Semple, who designed and had built the Bob Semple Tank: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bob_Semple_tank

Yes it is a pretty crap tank but I'm still proud that my paternal great grandfather designed a tank. I'll take what I can get
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Old 09-28-2009, 11:16 PM
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Targan

You are right to point that out about Neo Zeelander as what is said is equally valid for them. Anyway, UK would not have done much without the commonwealth and Free France nothing without its colonial troops.
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Old 09-29-2009, 02:26 AM
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Having studied Australian involvement in World War Two, I could go into serious rebuttal of some of the thoughts here.

Japanese massacre of all the Australian citizens was simply impossible, and I really think that many people have no idea just how big Australia is. The plan of a Japanese incursion onto the Australian mainland before full US commitment was to withdraw down to a parallel at Brisbane and make a final defence there. I'm sorry Mohoender, but the Japanese couldn't supply their troops in New Guinea, they had as much chance of comprehensively invading mainland Australia as they had of invading the moon.
What they could do is dominate the air over Darwin and other northern ports, which they did with some vigour. Darwin, on mainland Australia, suffered 64 separate air raids, more bombs were dropped on Darwin than Pearl Harbour, 243 people dying in the first air raid alone.

Tojo was totally against invading Australia, in his own words;
Quote:
We never had enough troops to do so [invade Australia]. We had already far out-stretched our lines of communication. We did not have the armed strength or the supply facilities to mount such a terrific extension of our already over-strained and too thinly spread forces. We expected to occupy all New Guinea, to maintain Rabaul as a holding base, and to raid Northern Australia by air. But actual physical invasion—no, at no time.
Australian troops and the Australian public fought fairly well during WW2, the dock strike was due to profiteering more than union rights.
Quote:
Industrial conscription and the drive to increase productivity led to an increasing degree of industrial unrest over time. Many workers were required to work long hours in poor conditions and were not able to change their employment due to the manpower laws. Poor work conditions were exacerbated by the Government's austerity measures reducing workers' standards of living. As a result, strikes and other forms of protest disrupted Australian production, especially from 1943 onwards. These protests attracted considerable criticism from other civilians and members of the military. In May 1943 the Government introduced policies which enabled workers who were undertaking unlawful industrial action to be conscripted into the military, but this had little impact due to the shortage of skilled labour in the industries most prone to industrial disputes.
What most people fail to understand is that the Japanese couldn't beat the Chinese, let alone the first world powers. If Germany had not been absorbing so much attention of the British it is liable they could have beaten them by themselves. The USA managed to use 90% of its air force on another enemy and still beat Japan. After 1944 the Germans were so battered by US and commonwealth air-power that they had 80% of the Luftwaffe on the western front. China managed to hold off the Japanese while fighting a civil war, and more Japanese troops lost their lives fighting in China than anywhere else.
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Old 09-29-2009, 03:17 AM
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Firstly, my apologies for thread-crapping and taking us far off topic and while I agree with Mohoender's conclusion about killing 3 million Australians, I doubt that it was ever possible simply again due to geography. Most of Australia's population lived in the south and would be thousands of kilometres from any frontline the Japanese could have established. Plus most population centres were sparsely populated when compared to European or North American towns/cities e.g. 2000-5000 population for a typical town and they were often 50-200km apart.

However, to get back on topic, consider the following scenarios,
1. Japan does indeed manage to invade the northern part of Australia (specifically, Queensland and the Northern Territory). Your "Escape from Kalisz" group consists of Australian and possibly British and Dutch East Indies civilian and military personnel trying to make there way to Queensland and then to New South Wales. If they are lucky they can garner some assistance from local aboriginal tribes.
2. Your "Escape" group consists of Japanese POWs incarcerated in camps deep in New South Wales. You must escape and travel through New South Wales and then Queensland with the goal of reaching Papua New Guinea. This concept is based on the Cowra Breakout http://www.anzacday.org.au/history/w...tes/cowra.html
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Old 09-29-2009, 04:20 AM
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Chalk

You are right but I am only talking hypothetically. If US had not get involved. In that case, whatever Tojo said is irrelevant (by the way when did he say that: before the war or at his trial while thinking about saving his head?), they would have had to invade Australia.

Anyway when Japan hit Pearl Habor their only hope to win was to go to Washington as stated by Yamamoto as early as 1941.

Australian quality as fighter is no way in doubt. They simply couldn't win by themselves.

Of course, the Japanese couldn't win over China but without the Allies involvement, China couldn't win over Japan.

I agree that the Japanese couldn't occupy Australia. Their only way to do so was to slaughter the Australian population (not an easy task in itself).

Back to the initial and only point: US contributed to final victory in WW2, it didn't win it. Australia fought in outstanding manner but it couldn't have done much on its own or with the sole support of a baddly weakened UK.

Stainless, no need apologies.
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Old 09-29-2009, 05:52 AM
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I have a few more things to say on our little exchange on WW2.

I might not have been clear when saying US didn't win WW2. What I mean is that the war was won by three contributors who were and should be treated equally: Commonwealth, Soviet Union and United States. A fourth one was China but it fought only in Asia.
- Commonwealth had stand alone and strictly alone for a full year in front of Germany (a year and a half when it comes to US).
- The Soviet Union has sacrificed more of its citizens to achieve victory than any other ally (I remind you that Soviet Union was among the Allies).
- United States came late to the war and suffer less than the others in term of casualties. However, it was the prime industrial contributor and was industrially involved as early as 1940 (thanks to Roosevelt).

Last, France was made a prime contributor but that was illegitimate. As a result, East Germany (Soviet occupation zone) was equal to 1/3 of the three Allies occupation zones as the Soviet Union refused to recognize France as a prime contributor to the war and IMO they were right (and it was rightly felt as a treason by Stalin). Unlike a common French belief, the armistice was not signed on May 8th at Reims but on May 9th at Berlin.

France could have been a prime contributor if it had chosen to continue the war as it could have done it in 1940 (IMO and in that of Paul Reynaud and De Gaulle should have). It didn't and should have been, therefore, treated as Belgium, Norway, Poland... (as an ally and a victim of Germany). Worse for France, that country still refuses as we talk to pay full pensions to French combattants (and their families) from its former colonies (It pays only in Francs CFA). In addition, since the 1960's and until the years 2000, French soldiers from our former colonies had not been invited to the 14th of July. Without these guys and governor Felix Eboué, the Free France would not have been able to contribute more than a few thousand soldiers. Then, I go as far as I should and as I want: Africa as a continent was and should have been made a prime contributor to the war in place of France (South Africa, AEF, AOF, Zaïre, British colonies, North Africa).

What I'm saying here (outside of France) is not a matter of opinion it's how it was understood by Commonwealth, Soviet Union and US at the time: They were three at Yalta and they should have been three to take control of Germany (too bad but with victory at hand more politics get in). They also should have been four at the UN security council (China, Soviet Union, UK and US). France again shouldn't have been there.

Moreover, I have been talking with many people who had fought that war:
- Civilians who had lived under Nazi occupation in the West usually tell you that they had been freed by US (no clue for the East).
- Civilians who had lived the war under the bombs but not under Germany's rule thank US and praise their own soldiers.
- Soldiers who had fought that war (Scots, Australians, Americans, Belgian, French...) don't make any difference as they were all fighting a common ennemy.

I have a tendency to listen to the last two.

Last edited by Mohoender; 09-29-2009 at 05:58 AM.
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  #26  
Old 09-29-2009, 12:29 PM
Adm.Lee Adm.Lee is offline
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Sliding back to "behind-enemy-lines" scenarios, not necessarily Kalisz-style, I'm reading a book on Carlson's Raiders. The "Long Patrol"-- 5 weeks by the 2nd Raiders on Guadalcanal, in the Japanese rear-- would be a good model for short or long campaigns.

My short take on Japan vs. Australia alone-- the Japanese couldn't get to Australia with enough units to do more than seize one spot (like Darwin) and hang on for while (a year?). I don't think they had the sealift to move 500,000 men at any time. A blockade is a possibility, but it would be a pretty thin one. The Australians (alone) couldn't generate the air & naval power to stop the Japanese, or do much more than eject the Japanese from the continent.
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Old 09-30-2009, 08:09 PM
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For the epitome of a savage fight, I don't think many fights beat the action between French and German forces in and around the little town of Stonne, in the middle of May, 1940.

If you have any mistaken beliefs that the French didn't fight hard, prepare to lose those myths right now;

(From the Axis History Forums)

The Heeresgruppe A (Rundstedt) is launched on May 10, 1940 towards the Meuse River. It will cross Luxembourg, advance in Belgium and France through the Ardennes and reach the Meuse River on May 12.

Heeresgruppe A is composed of 37 German divisions (including 7 armored divisions and 3 motorized infantry divisions) and contains, among other elements:
• 1,762 tanks in the 7 Panzerdivisionen
• About 550 armored cars (392 in the 7 Panzerdivisionen, 78 in the 3 motorized infantry divisions and about 80 in the remaining infantry divisions)
• 6 heavy self-propelled AT guns (8.8cm FlaK (Sfl) auf Sd.Kfz.8 from 1./s.Pz.Jg.Abt.8, attached to 1.PzD)
• 30 heavy self-propelled infantry guns (15cm sIG.33 auf PzI)
• 18 assault guns (Sturmgeschütz III)
• Probably all the 99 Panzerjäger I (tank destroyers) ?
--> 2,465 AFVs concentrated against the weak allied forces in the Ardennes

On May 13, after having crossed the Ardennes in Belgium, the XIX.AK (mot.) from general Guderian crosses the Meuse at Sedan with the 1.PzD, 2.PzD, 10.PzD and the "Grossdeutschland" infantry regiment, heavily supported by the Luftwaffe. On May 14-15, a breakthrough is achieved between the French 2nd and 9th Armies. The orders given to the German troops from XIX.AK (mot.) on May 14 at 14h00 are followings:
• "Grossdeutschland" regiment with 2 heavy artillery groups: take the heights of Stonne and cover the southern flank.
• 1.PzD: attack to the west, cross the Ardennes canal at Malmy and Omicourt.
• 2.PzD: attack to the west, cross the Ardennes canal at Hannogne
• 10.PzD: this division is belated and still around Sedan. It will support the "Grossdeutschland" regiment in Stonne.

The woody hills of the Mont-Dieu area are dominating the plain 15 km south of Sedan. The town of Stonne and its hill called the "Pain de Sucre" (335m high) are located between the Mont-Dieu and the Mont-Damion. At Stonne the German advance could be stopped. From Stonne a French counter-attack could eventually be launched on the flank of the German columns. The conquest of Stonne is therefore seen of importance for both German and the French armies.

On May 15, during the first combats in Stonne there is also a series of battles to delay the 1.PzD and the 2.PzD after the German breakthrough in the Belgian Ardennes The 3e BS defend the town of La Horgne during 10 hours against half the 1.PzD. Advanced elements from the 14e DI (I/152e RI, II/152e RI, 2e BCP), remnants from the 5e DLC (I/15e RDP) and elements from the 208e RI (53e DI) defend also several towns (La Bascule, Poix-Terron, Baâlons, Chagny, Bouvellemont, Mazerny, Wignicourt, Faissault etc.) against the advancing 1.PzD. This same day sees also the battle at Flavion in Belgium opposing the 1e DCr to the 5.PzD and 7.PzD.

The area of the Mont Dieu woods was held by the French troops facing German assault from May 15 to May 25. During this time there were important battles in Stonne, Les Grandes Armoises, Tannay and Le Chesne. During these battles the French lost about 3,000 men including about 1,000 KIAs. The German losses were even higher, serious studies estimate them 3 times higher.

From May 15 to May 25, fierce battles will take place in the Mont Dieu area (including Stonne), only 15 km south of Sedan. The Aisne River (and especially the area of Rethel), also south of Sedan in the Ardennes, will resist from until June 11. The French Ardennes will therefore see several of the bloodiest battles of May-June 1940. About 10,000 French soldiers died in the Ardennes (10% of the total number of 100,000 KIAs). On the German side there are about 9,500 KIAs in the Ardennes in May-June 1940 for a total of 45,218 KIAs during the campaign. Therefore about 21% of the German KIAs felt in the French Ardennes. Most of them were killed in the area of Stonne / Tannay (about 2,000 KIAs) and during June 9-10 when attacking the French lines on the Aisne River (especially in the area of Rethel) with about 3,500 KIAs.

*** The battle of Stonne (May 15-18, 1940) ***

--> GERMAN FORCES:

Guderian engages in the area of Stonne the "Grossdeutschland" motorized infantry regiment, elements of the 10.PzD (Panzer-Regiment 8) and engineers from the 1.PzD. The presence of elements of both the 1.PzD and the 10.PzD is confirmed by the Germans POWs captured by the French troops.

-- 10.PzD --
PzI: 44
PzII: 113
PzBef: 18
PzIII: 58
PzIV: 32
TOTAL = 265

The 10.PzD has 265 tanks on May 10. Panzerjäger Abteilung 521 (with 18 Panzerjäger I) is attached to the 10.PzD and the "Grossdeutschland" regiment includes Sturmgeschütz-Batterie 640 (6 Sturmgeschütze III Ausf.B) for a total of 289 German tanks, assault guns and tank destroyers.

Auflklärung Abteilung 90 (10.PzD) has strength of 56 armored cars.

Theoretically, in each of the Aufklärung Abteilung (AA) there is:
• Battalion HQ with 1 SdKfz.247
• Signal platoon
--o 1 SdKfz.263 (Fu)
--o 1 SdKfz.261 (Fu)
--o 1 SdKfz.260 (Fu)
• 2 companies of armored cars each with :
--o Company HQ with 1 SdKfz.247
--o Signal detachment with 4 SdKfz.223 (Fu) and 1 SdKfz.263 (Fu)
--o Heavy platoon with 3 6-Rad SdKfz.231 and 3 8-Rad SdKfz.232 (Fu)
--o Light platoon with 6 SdKfz.221
--o Light platoon with 4 SdKfz.221 and 4 SdKfz.222
--> TOTAL: 56 armored cars (including 20 armored cars with a 2.0cm L/55 gun)

On May 17, elements of the 2.ID (mot) cover the retreat of the "Grossdeutschland" infantry regiment and 10.PzD. They are replaced by the 16.ID, 24.ID and 26.ID of the VI.AK.

The French troops in the Mont Dieu area are then facing:
• The 16.ID [attacking in the Mont Damion area and Stonne] – on the right
• The 24.ID [attacking in the Mont Dieu woods] – on the front
• The 24.ID + the 26.ID [attacking towards Tannay and hill 276] – on the left

The later involved AA 2 (2.ID mot.) contains 26 armored cars (a single company) and the 3 infantry divisions have an armored car platoon of 3 armored cars [one was an SdKfz.14 Funk-Kraftwagen (unarmed, open-topped radio vehicle); the other two were SdKfz.13 MG-Kraftwagen (thinly-armoured, open-topped, with minimal off-road capacity but armed with a single MG34 behind a little armoured shield)].

There are therefore at first 56, then 26 and later 9 potential armored cars involved in the Mont Dieu area. That makes a total of potentially 380 German AFVs available in the area between May 15 to May 17.
From May 17 to May 25 there are therefore only a few armored cars but testimonies speak about German tanks also present during that period of time. Are these still several tanks or armored cars from 10.PzD ? Various self-propelled guns and tank destroyers units ? Army / army corps elements may have been involved too. The Germans troops had also strong support from the Luftwaffe during all the battle.


--> FRENCH FORCES:

To defend the Mont-Dieu area, the French troops include the 3e DCr (reduced to 138 tanks instead of 160 tanks), the 3e DIM and several reconnaissance groups. The tanks of the 3e DCr are not concentrated around Stonne but spread from Stonne to the east to the area around La Cassine.

-- 3e DCr (Division Cuirassée) --

The 3e DCr was created on March 20, 1940. Since at least 4 months training were required to make of a DCr an operational unit, the 3e DCr was not completely ready on May 10. The different commanders were:
• General Brochard (March 20, 1940)
• General Buisson (May 16, 1940)
• Colonel Le Brigant (June 7, 1940)
• General Buisson (June 11, 1940)

Order of battle:

• 5e Demi-brigade lourde (lieutenant-colonel Maître) (5th heavy half-brigade)
--o 41e BCC (commandant Malaguti)
--o 49e BCC (commandant Préclaire)
---> 63 Renault B1bis tanks instead of the theoretical 69 tanks (1 half-brigade command tank and 2 battalions of 31 tanks + 3 reserve tanks)

• 7e Demi-brigade légère (lieutenant-colonel Salanié) (7th light half-brigade)
--o 42e BCC (commandant Vivet)
--o 45e BCC (commandant Bézanger) – Gendarmerie battalion
--> 75 Hotchkiss H39 tanks instead of the theoretical 90 tanks (1 half-brigade command tank and 2 battalions of 40 tanks + 5 reserve tanks)

The 3/42e BCC (3rd company of the 42e BCC, 15 Hotchkiss H39 tanks) was indeed sent with the FECS (French Expediationary Corps in Scandinavia) in April 1940. In Norway it became the 342e CACC (Compagnie Autonome de Chars de Combat - independent tank company).

• 16e BCP (Bataillon de Chasseurs Portés - commandant Waringhem) but with only 50% of its all terrain vehicles (includes 9 25mm SA34/37 AT guns)

• 319e RATTT (Régiment d'Artillerie * Tracteurs Tout Terrain – colonel Laurent)
(with 24 105mm C Mle1935 Bourges howitzers)
The regiment lacks ammunition caissons and is therefore often next to the roads. Many radio sets are also lacking.

• 133/84e Compagnie mixte de transmission (mixed radio/telephone signal company)

The 3e DCr lacks many of its planned all-terrain recovery and supply vehicles. The divisional AT battery as well as the engineer company are also missing.


-- 3e DIM (Division d'Infanterie Motorisée) --

The first motorised infantry divisions were formed during the early 30's. Initially there were to be 5, but by the spring of 1935 this was increased to 7. Despite their name they were not fully motorised units, they had no organic vehicles to move all the infantry. They even had an allotment of horses and wagons. Each regiment only possessed enough vehicles to move the regimental and battalion headquarters. The motorized infantry squads of a motorized infantry regiment are classical 12-men infantry squads but carried by trucks or buses (Laffly S20TL and Lorraine 38L are only for the Dragons Portés and Chasseurs Portés units). The troops of the division were moved by a GTP "groupement de transport de personnel" for strategical movements, which when not transporting the division was withdrawn for other duties near to where the regiment was stationed. Usually 3 GTPs are assigned to a motorized infantry division (DIM), one per regiment grossly. One GTP consisted of a staff and 3 transport groups, each group having 4-5 transport companies (1 GTP = 2 companies of trucks and 3 companies of buses for about 200 trucks and 200 buses). A division on open terrain would hold a front 5 to 7 kilometers wide and some 5 deep. The 3e DIM has been mobilized on August 27, 1939. The commander was General Bertin-Boussus.

Composition of the 3e DIM:

• A divisional headquarters

• 3 motorized infantry regiments (each with a command company, a weapons company and 3 infantry battalions). Each motorized infantry regiment included an AA guns platoon (with 4 20mm Mle1939 AA guns – Oerlikon)
--o 51e RI (Lieutenant-colonel Guy)
--o 67e RI (Lieutenant-colonel Dupret)
--o 91e RI (Lieutenant-colonel Jacques)

• A (13th) divisional pioneer company – depending from 51e RI

• A (14th) divisional AT company (CDAC = compagnie divisionnaire anti-char, 12 25mm SA34 AT, motorized) commanded by Capitaine Seminel – depending from 51e RI

• A divisional training centre (CID = centre d'instruction divisionnaire)

• 6e GRDI (divisional reconnaissance group) (Lieutenant-colonel Dufour)
This divisional reconnaissance group includes various elements like motorcyclists but also armored cars and several light tanks which are probably : 12 Panhard 178 (+ 1 radio armored car + 2 reserve armored cars), 12 Citroën-Kégresse P16 and 4 AMR35 ZT3.

• 42e RAD - A light artillery regiment (RAD = régiment d'artillerie divisionnaire) (Lieutenant-colonel Morille)
--o 3 artillery groups (36 75mm Mle1897 guns) - motorized
--o a 10th divisional AT battery with 8 towed 47mm Mle1937 AT guns (BDAC = batterie de défense anti-char) (Capitaine Dufaure)
--o a divisional AA battery with 6 25mm AA guns towed by Laffly trucks (BDAA = batterie de défense anti-aérienne) originally 702e battery from 409e RADCA (Lieutenant Demont)

• 242e RALD - A heavy artillery regiment (RALD = régiment d'artillerie lourde divisionnaire) (Lieutenant-colonel Thomas) with 12 155mm C Mle1917 howitzers and 12 105mm C Mle1934 howitzers)

• Parc d'artillerie divisionnaire (PAD) (divisional artillery park) (Chef d'escadron Carron)
• 3e bataillon de sapeurs-mineurs motorisé (motorized engineer battalion)
• A telegraph company
• A radio company
• An HQ motor transport company
• A motor transport company
• A divisional quartermaster service
• A divisional medical group


THE BATTLE:

In the night of May 13-14, the French urged various elements south of Sedan to counter-attack the Germans:
• elements from the 3e DIM (Division d'Infanterie Motorisée): I/67e RI, 10e and 11e companies from 51e RI
• elements of the 3e DCr (Division Cuirassée): 1/45e BCC (Hotchkiss H39 tanks), 3/49e BCC (Renault B1bis tanks)
• 2/4e BCC (FCM36 tanks)

The 3e DCr and 3e DIM arrive only on May 14 around 16h00 for the first troops (mainly reconnaissance elements).

They will face the 10.PzD (Pz.Rgt. 8), the I/69.IR, the "Grossdeutschland" infantry regiment and the 43. Sturmpionier Bataillon.

The battle of Stonne has been called by the Germans the "Verdun of 1940". The town itself switched side 17 times in 3 days (May 15-17). The Kriegstagebuch (journal) of the "Grossdeutschland" regiment indicates that "the name of Stonne entered in the history of the regiment with blood".

Possession of the town (according to K.H. Frieser - German time probably):

- May 15:
8h00: German
9h00: French
9h30: German
10h30: French
10h45: German
12h00: French
17h30: German

- May 16:
7h30: French
17h00: German

- May 16-17 night: Stonne remained unoccupied

- May 17:
9h00: German
11h00: French
14h30: German
15h00: French
16h30: German
17h00: French
17h45: German


--> May 15:

Early in the morning of the May 15, the "Grossdeutschland" infantry regiment supported by tanks of the 10.PzD assaults the town of Stonne, which is defended by the I/67e RI and elements of the 6e GRDI. The French position is attacked on the front and on the flanks. The French are pulled back and 7 German AFVs are reported to be knocked out (e.g. Panzer IV n°711 is destroyed by the 25mm AT gun from Sergent Durand - but mainly due to the intervention of the 3/49e BCC with its B1bis tanks). 2 Panhard 178 armored cars from the 6e GRDI are also knocked out.

At 5h30, the 1/45e BCC (Hotchkiss H39 tanks) moves from the Grandes-Armoises to Stonne and they wipe out several German infantry positions. At 7h30 they are next to the town of Stonne but 2 Hotchkiss tanks are lost and the company moves back.

The 3/49e BCC (Renault B1bis tanks) carries on with the attack. The heavy tanks move into the town and the Germans have to evacuate Stonne. At 9h30 the French tanks are deployed on the southern edge of the town. Since no French infantry has actually followed the heavy tanks, the town is later again occupied by the Germans.

A renewed attack is launched at 10h30 with several tanks from the 45e BCC (Hotchkiss H39), 49e BCC (Renault B1bis) and one platoon of the 4e BCC (FCM36) supported by 1 infantry company of the 51e RI. The town is captured and again in French hands. The combats are intense and the infantry is fighting house by house. During their approach, the French tanks are already engaged by German guns (AT guns ? infantry guns ? AA guns ? tanks ?).

The 14th anti-tank company from "Grossdeutschland" infantry regiment (Lieutenant Beck-Broichsitter) is engaged later against the French tanks. This Lieutenant describes a very confuse situation (in French in "Les combats du Mont-Dieu" by Gérard Giuliano): a German tank abandoned in a ditch, German guns hidden on a hill behind his own position and firing on the French troops. His men hide behind a house to avoid a French tank which moves very closely etc.
Three 3.7cm PaK are deployed and engage 6 French tanks. The losses among the German infantry and gunners are increasing under the French fire. Then the Germans report having engaged about 10 French tanks on a large front. The combat will last about 1 hour.

What is sure is that the overall situation is rather intricate. There are many different units involved, it is not a simple duel between 3.7cm PaK and French tanks like it is often described.

The German infantry companies have to move gradually back. Lieutenant Beck-Broichsitter reports then the help of German self-propelled guns. Does that mean the StuG III Ausf.B of the Sturmgeschütz-Batterie 640 or the Panzerjäger I of the Panzerjäger Abteilung 521 ? He also reports that 4 infantry guns are deployed in support (7.5cm leIG or 15.0cm sIG ?) to engage the French troops. The German losses are nonetheless increasing, despite these reinforcements. Several AT guns of his company are scattered with splinters but continue to fire. Until yet they do not report having destroyed a single French tank.

At this moment the AT platoon of Hindelang is said to be attacked by 3 Renault B1bis tanks. Corporal in Chief Giesemann targets an area on the 'right' side of one tanks and fire burst out of the tank. The two remaining AT guns then target this area on the French tanks. Quickly a direct hit destroys one of the two German AT guns. Hindelang moves then back with its remaining AT gun and the 3 heavy tanks are said to be out of combat. From this it is generally said that the B1bis intake shutter on the left side of the tank is a weak point and that 3 Renault B1bis tanks have been knocked out by German 3.7cm AT guns.

The French troops capture the town of Stonne.

According to the description in the report, the intake shutter of the B1bis is on the wrong side but in the heat of the battle the gunner may have made a mistake. The 3.7cm PaK of the AT company are often said to have knocked out 3 B1bis tanks. From what I have researched, only 1 of the B1bis which are claimed (3) can eventually be credited to the AT guns of the "Grossdeutschland" regiment. And this was apparently at very close range in the town (≤ 100m probably). The 2 others have been neutralized by the fire of a Panzer IV.
Anyway, there were many German guns firing, it's not a simple duel at all as pointed previously. Concerning the efficiency of the 3.7cm PaK just read the German reports from 3.Panzerbrigade about the battle of Hannut. The 3.7cm KwK are inefficient against the French Hotchkiss H39 and Somua S35 tanks (40mm armor) beyond 200-300 meters.

3 Squadrons of Ju-87 'Stuka' dive bombers attack Stonne at this moment. This action is followed by heavy shelling of the German artillery. At 12h30, the French troops move temporarily back under this intense fire. About 3 hours later, B1bis tanks from 49e BCC occupy the town again and the defense is now in the hand of infantry elements of the 67e RI. The French tank move then back; the town is only defended by infantry and AT guns.

During the evening a strong German attack is launched: the "Grossdeutschland" infantry regiment is supported by all the infantry companies of the 10.PzD and takes again the core of the town. The French troops of the 67e RI are still holding the southern edge of Stonne.

The presence of Panzer IV of the 10.PzD and of Panzerjäger I is confirmed in the town and in the vicinity by various photography of German wrecks.

Only at the end of May 15, the 3e DIM is now rather complete to face the German troops.


I have found a document from the artillery museum in France about the battle of Stonne : "l'artillerie de la 3e DIM du 14 mai au 7 juin 1940 au sud de Sedan dans la bataille de Stonne". Among other things it includes a testimony from a German tanker from 10.PzD (Karl Koch, PzRgt 8, 7th company - he is in the turret of a Panzer IV) on May 15 in Stonne.

5 Panzer IVs and 5 Panzer IIs from 10.PzD are moving towards Stonne. Suddenly 3 Panzer IVs are knocked out by an ambushed French 25mm AT gun. In Karl Koch's Panzer IV the driver is hit but manages nonetheless to move the tank a little bit more. The crew bails out except the driver which is heavily wounded and the radio operator who is under shock. While abandoning his Panzer IV under French infantry fire, Karl Koch sees the French AT gun very close to the 3 German wrecks and one of the 3 Panzer IVs is burning. Behind the 3 knocked out tanks, the 2 remaining Panzer IVs and 5 Panzer IIs are waiting.

These 5 German tanks enter in Stonne while the French AT gun has already moved to another emplacement. The 3 crew members of Karl Koch's Panzer go again to the knocked out Panzer IVs, wanting to use one of them as pillbox. The driver is evacuated and the radio operator is found dead on the tank with a bullet in the head (did he commit suicide or was he shot be a French sharpshooter while trying to evacuate ?).

The 5 Panzer IIs retreat quickly out of Stonne, signalling a French tank attack. [On May 16, Karl Koch will be told that the 2 remaining Panzer IVs from his platoon had finally been destroyed in the town.]

Karl Koch and his comrades are at this moment waiting for French tanks to appear out of the town. A first French tank is knocked out after 2 shots (at 600m for the first one). 10 minutes later a second tank arrives beside the first one and still later a third one. All of them are neutralized (immobilized, destroyed) by the immobilized Panzer IV. These tanks are very probably Hotchkiss H39 tanks form the 45e BCC but on the French side only 2 Hotchkiss tanks are reported destroyed (perhaps one of them could be recovered later since the town was occupied by French troops after this attack – or one of these tanks is perhaps a FCM36). French infantry appears (probably men from an infantry company from 51e RI) but these elements are pulled back by the German tanks. The German tankers gather ammunition from the other remaining Panzer IVs.

After a long moment a 4th French tank arrives, and is described as a "monster". It is very likely a Renault B1bis tank and seems to be a surprise for the German tankers. They say having shot about 20 times on this tank with their 7.5cm KwK without effect. Finally additional shots enable to destroy one of the tracks of this French tank. Later a 5th French tank arrives, also a B1bis tank. It fires with all its weapons but has apparently not spotted the German tank (or took it as a wreck like the 2 other ones). The French tank is also probably under fire form other German units and firing against other targets. Once again all the German shots are without effect until the barrel of the 47mm turret gun is hit and the French tank is damaged while firing with it. This French tank is abandoned by its crew.

We know that 3 Renault B1bis were lost on May 15: B1bis "Chinon", "Gaillac" and "Hautvillers" from 49e BCC.

Therefore, at least 2 Renault B1bis tanks and 2-3 light tanks were destroyed or immobilized by the Panzer IV of Karl Koch. That means that these 2 B1bis tanks were not at all destroyed by 3.7cm AT guns according to this testimony; or at least not by a 3.7cm PaK alone. The French tanks were probably under fire from various German guns and tanks.

The 3rd Renault B1bis can eventually be credited to the 14th AT company of the "Grossdeutschland" infantry regiment (Lieutenant Beck-Broichsitter) [the famous intake shutter testimony] but probably not the 3 Renault B1bis like they claim it.

During the same time at least 5 Panzer IVs, 12 various vehicles and 6 AT guns have been knocked out. The Germans claim the destruction of 33 French tanks on that day but the real number of knocked out French AFVs is 10-11 tanks, including 3 Renault B1bis.

The B1bis "Gaillac" as seen on the photos has a destroyed track and would eventually be the first B1bis tank knocked out by Karl Koch.
The B1bis "Hauvillers" is also the one said to have been knocked out by Karl Koch on Antoine Misner's website. This is the one which has been hit on its turret gun.
The B1bis "Chinon" would then perhaps be the Renault B1bis knocked out at very close range by a 3.7cm PaK ?



Renault B1bis "Gaillac"
• Commander: Adjudant-chef Jean Simon
• Driver: Sergent Jean Mathis
• Radio operator: Caporal Pierre Mairot
• Driver assistant: Caporal Marie Schnoebelen
One track is destroyed and all the crew members are KIA.

Renault B1bis "Chinon"
• Commander: Sous-lieutenant Yves Rohou
• Driver: Sergent-chef André Ducasse
• Radio operator: Caporal-chef Maxime Quevy
• Driver and commander assistant: Chasseurs Roger Mauger and Henri Vanderbercq
All the crew members are shot while bailing out.

Renault B1bis "Hautvillers"
• Commander: Sous-lieutenant Jacques Klein
• Driver: Caporal-chef Emile Chanel
• Radio operator: ?
• Driver assistant: ?
The turret is blocked, the 47mm SA35 gun is damaged, the left track is cut and the armor is slightly damaged (spalling ?) with splinters slightly wounding the driver. The tank begins to burn after and electric fire leading later to an internal explosion.


--> May 16:

May 16 will see the involvement of 2 companies of the 41e BCC supporting the action of the III/51e RI. The attack is preceded by an artillery preparation of 45 minutes organized by the 242e RALD. The combats will be very intense. The "Grossdeutschland" infantry regiment and the 10.PzD are then replaced by the 16.ID, 24.ID and 26.ID. On May 16, at 01h30, the 41e BCC is ordered to attack Stonne with its 1st and 3rd companies.

The 41e BCC was created on November 16, 1939 with troops of the tank park n°511 and Renault B1bis tanks. The battalion will be integrated in the 3e DCr, the last French armored division formed before the beginning of the combats, on March 20, 1940. The battalion itself will have 6 months of intense training thanks to a good core of active/peacetime officers and NCOs. The training at the company and battalion level is then rather good but the unit had only one training at the divisional scale on May 9, 1940.

Main officers:
• Commander: Commandant Malaguti
• Staff commander: Capitaine Cornet
• Intelligence officer: Lieutenant De Witasse
• Signal officer: Lieutenant Sery
• 1st tank company: Capitaine Billotte
• 2nd tank company: Capitaine Gasc
• 3rd tank company: Capitaine Delepierre
• Reserve company: Capitaine Simo

During the battles of May/June 1940 all the tanks will be lost and the battalion will have 43 KIAs (8 officers, 14 NCOs, 21 corporals and men).

The battalion will be engaged without interruption. The main engagements are:
• in the Mont-Dieu / Stonne area (15 km south of Sedan) during May
• around Perthes and Rethel (south of the Aisne River) in a counter-attack against the 1.PzD during June
• numerous smaller sacrifice missions (defense of a bridge at Pogny-sur-Marne etc.)
The last tank of the battalion is lost on June 15, 1940.

The battalion has been awarded 8 Legion of Honour medals, 22 Military medals and mentioned in dispatches many times (64 times by the regiment, 34 times by the brigade, 43 times by the divisions, 13 times by the Army and 29 times by the Army Corps).



At 3h00, the 1/41e BCC and the 3/41e BCC are moving to the departure line in the woods of Fay. The Renault B1bis tanks will open the way to the III/51e RI of the 3e DIM. The infantry will be directly supported by Hotchkiss H39 tanks from the 2/45e BCC.

The troops could not perform a reconnaissance of the area before the attack and the intelligence about the enemy is very limited. The 41e BCC is not aware if the town is currently in French or German hands when it starts moving.

The B1bis tanks will advance in an inversed V formation. The B1bis "Vienne" of Commandant Malaguti is leading the attack.

On his left the 1/41e BCC commanded by Capitaine Billotte with 7 tanks:
• B1bis "Eure" (Capitaine Billotte)
• B1bis "Lot" (Lieutenant Delalande)
• B1bis "Vauquois" (Lieutenant Bourgeois)
• B1bis "Volnay" (Lieutenant Pignot)
• B1bis "Tarn" (Lieutenant Rabin)
• B1bis "Beaune" (Lieutenant Adelmans)
• B1bis "Sambre" (Lieutenant Bramant)

On his right the 3/41e BCC commanded by Capitaine Delepierre with 7 tanks:
• B1bis "Somme" (Capitaine Delepierre)
• B1bis "Doubs" (Lieutenant Bricart)
• B1bis "Meursault" (Sous-Lieutenant Guyhur)
• B1bis "Trépail" (Lieutenant Dive)
• B1bis "Muscadet" (Sous-Lieutenant Soret)
• B1bis "Moselle" (Aspirant Léonard)
• B1bis "Vertus" (Lieutenant Hachet)

At 4h30 the Vth group of the 242e RATTT (12 105mm C howitzers) makes a 45 minutes artillery preparation on Stonne, the "Pain de Sucre" hill (the dominating hill east of Stonne) and the southern edges of the Grande Côte woods.

At 5h15, the 1/41e BCC encounters the first German elements. These troops are from the "Grossdeutschland" infantry regiment, supported by 2 tanks and an AT defense organized in depth. The 2 German tanks are quickly destroyed. Commandant Malaguti himself said about the Germans of this elite regiment: "beautiful warriors, they fired at us until we were at 100m of them. Then they ran away, fall down and simulated death or stayed in their foxholes until we killed them".

The 3/41e BCC reaches its first objective after 12 minutes and destroys the water tower of Stonne on which the Germans had deployed MGs. The French tank company stops and fires on the edges of Stonne to neutralize MGs and AT guns.

The 1/41e BCC outflanks Stonne by the north-west but capitaine Billotte is hampered by several cliffs and important slopes. He has to move to the right, arriving in Stonne itself (from the north-west) before the battalion commander. The B1bis "Eure" arrives nose to nose with 13 German tanks of Pz.Rgt.8 (10.PzD) in column in the main street of the town. The first tank is only at 30m. Billotte orders the driver (sergent Durupt) to target the last tank with the 75mm SA35 hull gun while he destroys the first tank with the 47mm SA35 turret gun. The first shots destroyed simultaneously the first and the last German tank of the column, the others could hardly move. In several minutes, the B1bis "Eure" advances in the street and neutralize the 11 remaining tanks while numerous shells are hitting the armor of the B1bis without penetrating it. 2 Panzer IVs and 11 Panzer IIIs are reported as being destroyed (It is however not 100% sure that among them there were not several wrecks from the previous day). Billotte crosses the whole town and destroys also two 3.7cm AT guns next to the "Pain de Sucre". The armor of the B1bis revealed later to be scattered with 140 impacts and gouges, none of the projectiles penetrated the armor according to the war diary of the 41e BCC. One can see here a kind of small reversed "Villers Bocage".

Malaguti enters the main street (from the south-west) a few minutes after Billotte and fires also at all the possible targets he could spot but none of the German tanks aligned in the street reacted anymore. Malaguti moves south in two other streets and finally exits the town by the south. He spots 2 B1bis wrecks ("Hautvillers" and "Gaillac" probably) from the 49e BCC (attack of the 15th May) and joins the 10th company of the 51e RI.

Billotte contacts then the battalion commander (Malaguti) by radio to report that the woods north of Stonne are full of MGs and AT guns firing at him. He moves back to Stonne.

Delepierre, the commander of the 3/41e BCC contacts Malaguti by radio to know if he can carry on with its progression but he is ordered to wait for the French artillery. 10 minutes later, the French artillery lengthens its fire and the 3/41e BCC moves to its next objective. The company arrives in a very rough ground with many gullies and cliffs hidden by dense vegetation. The dangers are hidden and the visual contact between the tanks is made difficult. The B1bis "Somme" is isolated and attacked at 100m by two 3.7cm AT guns. In 2 minutes the armor is scattered by a dozen of impacts. None of them penetrated the armor but the turret is blocked and the optics of the observation copula is destroyed. One German AT gun is destroyed by a HE shell and the B1bis moves on. Due to a hidden gully the B1bis falls over and lies on the flank. The tank is abandoned, put on fire by the crew. The men manage to reach the French lines again.

On May 16, the following B1bis tanks involved in the French attack have been lost during or will be abandoned a bit after the attack:
• B1bis "Somme": immobilized on the flank and scuttled by the crew
• B1bis "Vertus": MIA (single tank lost possibly due to enemy fire)
• B1bis "Meursault": first immobilized in a gully and against a big tree. It is towed by the B1bis "Moselle" and B1bis "Trépail". The tank will later be scuttled south of the Grandes Armoises due to important mechanical breakdown
• B1bis "Trépail": the tank experiences engine mechanical breakdown and will be scuttled later

At 5h30, the III/51e RI (10th and 11th companies), supported by the 2/45e BCC (Hotchkiss H39 tanks), begins to move towards Stonne. They encounter German troops which have joined again their foxholes after the passage of the French heavy tanks. Around 7h00, the French infantry controls the town of Stonne.

At 10h00 and during more than half an hour the town is again heavily bombed by German dive bombers. They are followed until 12h00 by heavy German artillery shelling. At 15h00 the French tanks (41e BCC and 45e BCC) are ordered to move back to be used in other areas than the town of Stonne itself. At the end of the afternoon, the French infantry moves on the edges of the town because of the heavy German shelling. North-west of Stonne, in the woods the German assaults have all been defeated by the 67e RI. Reinforcements are arriving in the area of the Mont Damion, east of Stonne, with the III/5e RICMS from 6e DIC.

On May 16, around 17h00, the Renault B1bis "Ricquewihr" (commanded by Lieutenant Doumecq or Domercq ? Apparently the second name is the right one but the first one can be found in several books) from 49e BCC attacks towards Stonne and encounters a German infantry column, which fires at the tank with infantry weapons including anti-tank rifles, without effect. The B1bis crushes German troops and pushes into the town defended by the Schützen-Regiment 64. When the German soldiers saw the bloody tracks of the tank they fled in panic and abandoned Stonne which remained unoccupied for the night. After that action Domercq was nicknamed "the butcher of Stonne" by his comrades. It will be heavily involved in the combats of Tannay on May 23-24. The B1bis "Ricquewihr" will be the last tank of the 3e DCr, abandoned on June 18, at Sombernon north-east of Dijon, the weapons having been previously scuttled by the crew.

End 1942, Domercq (former commander of the tank and living in Paris) is in a pub on the Poincaré Avenue where a German tanker shows several photos to his friends. Domercq recognize his former tank, the "Ricquewihr". The German explains that he is now the commander of this tank, that he fired with it and that it was a good tank. He will join the tank and the rest of the crew on the Russian front. The German tanker gave the following photo of his former tank to Domercq (information by Roger Avignon).

The Renault B1bis "Ricquewihr" and its original crew:
• Commander: Sous-lieutenant Stoltz
• Driver: Sergent Ducassou
• Radio operator: Voisin
• Driver assistant: Caporal Cossec

Stonne saw very hard combats and some German officers mentioned Stonne beside Stalingrad and Monte Cassino amongst the battles they will never forget.

In two days (May 15-16), the "Grossdeutschland" regiment alone will loose 103 KIAs, 442 WIAs and 25 MIAs (570 men). For the whole campaign the "Grossdeutschland" regiment had 278 KIAs and 830 WIAs (1,108 losses). Therefore the regiment sustained 51% of its losses of May-June 1940 in only 2 days in Stonne. Then of course we would have to count all the equipment losses. I can only give details for the 14th AT company of the "Grossdeutschland" infantry regiment: 13 KIAs, 65 WIAs, 12 vehicles destroyed and 6 AT guns destroyed (50% of the AT guns of the company).

On May 15-16, the 10.PzD will definitely loose about 25 tanks and the French will loose several 33 tanks. These wrecks will remain on the battlefield. What can also be said from German sources in that later, on June 5, before the battle south of Amiens, the 10.PzD is reduced to 180 tanks [85 "missing" tanks].

Other examples of known losses can be given for the later stages of the battle in the Mont Dieu area. During May 23-24, the German 24.ID sustained 1,490 losses (347 KIAs, 1,086 WIAs and 57 MIAs) in the area of Tannay [left French flank]. During May 17-25, the I/79.IR sustained 191 losses (41 KIAs, 144 WIAs and 6 MIAs) in the area of the Mont Damion [right French flank].

Between May 15 and May 25, the French infantry lost also many men. For example the I/67e RI had 362 KIAs and a company of the 51e RI finished the battle with only 5 sergeants and 30 soldiers left !


Sources:
• "Blitzkrieg * l’Ouest, Mai-Juin 40" (Jean-Paul Pallud)
• "Fallait-il sauver le char Bayard ?" (René Boly)
• "L'Arme Blindée Française (volume 1) : Mai-juin 1940 ! Les blindés français dans la tourmente" (Gérard Saint-Martin)
• "l'artillerie de la 3e DIM du 14 mai au 7 juin 1940 au sud de Sedan dans la bataille de Stonne" (Musée de l'Artillerie)
• "Le mythe de la guerre-éclair – la campagne de l'Ouest de 1940" (Karl-Heinz Frieser)
• "Les combats du Mont-Dieu – Mai 1940" (Gérard Giuliano)
• Testimonies of various veterans including several from the 41e BCC which were used in the book by René Boly.
• War diary of the 41e BCC
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  #28  
Old 10-01-2009, 12:52 AM
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Mohoender Mohoender is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ChalkLine View Post
If you have any mistaken beliefs that the French didn't fight hard, prepare to lose those myths right now;
Who ever said the French didn't fight hard? I simply said they were defeated in 1940 and, unlike the Commonwealth accepted that defeat, establishing a perfectly legal government known as Vichy France.

Your account is perfectly right and I can give you hundreds of similar accounts to prove that the French did fight hard even after defeat (Bir Hakeim, Monte Cassino, Air group Normandie-Niemen in Soviet Union, Commando Keifer, 2e DB...). In 1940 you get Narvik, the troops isolated in Belgium, Dunkirk, the sacrifice of the artillery officer school in Paris (go and visit Paris, you still see the bullets impact on the walls).

They fought also against US in Algeria and at Madagascar against the British not to mention Mers-el-Kebir and Dakar.

However, they have done that as units or people, not as a country. The Belgian, the Poles, the Czech, the Dutch, the Jews had done so as well... They were all, however, never recognized as prime contributors to the War (but they were praised for their military achievements).

Then, France betrayed (from 1960 onward), no less than a third of those who had fought for the country, freezing their pensions and recently accepting to raise them only and solely for those who died (one more insult to their memory). Often, the people of France didn't follow their government on that ground and on occasions, they fought and still fight the government on that ground. An entire village in Savoie (local authorities included), opposed by Force the French police in the early 1990's hiding a French soldier from Senegal who was holding the Legion d'Honneur but who had been ordered expelled (And I'm not talking here of the Harkis who had fought for France and Algeria and still live under awful conditions).

Chalk as I'm French as such I'm more than allowed to judge my own country and government. If you want to challenge me on that, feel free but do it at the political level (and state level). Don't bring the people and the troops into it. We perfectly agree on them.

I can see the political reasons behind the choice to raise France to the status of prime contributor but I disagree with them and find them illegitimate (Possibly instrumental in starting the Cold War). In addition, the French governements after 1942 and after the War (de Gaulle in the first place) built an historical lie around the political choice of this country and and about its military achievements (actually stating that the French didn't fight well in 1940). They are still often doing so and, in the meantime, trying to correct it. Over the past two years our government took two initiatives on that ground (one was successful, the other was challanged and they had to back up).

- Sarkozy asked that the letter by Guy Mocquet to be read in classes as he was a hero of the resistence. (Oops, the guy was never part of the resistance but wrote a letter. He was however a communist distributings paper explaining how responsible the French government of 1940 was in the defeat. Finally, he was executed as an hostage by the German).
- Sarkozy wanted every school children to remember the 10.000 jewish kids deported and killed during the hollocaust. That was challanged and defeated as Simone Veil (a deported kid at the time) declared the proposal outrageous, unfair and monstruous (I cite her). In the meantime, it was never made any mention of the jewish kids saved by French families all over the country by our government (thanks to Yad Vashem as they did mention that 80% of the Jewish kids in France had been protected and saved by the population).
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  #29  
Old 10-01-2009, 01:43 AM
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Huh?
This wasn't aimed at anyone in particular, especially you.
It's a common assumption that France rolled over when the Germans attacked, and nasty slurs such as 'cheese-eating surrender monkeys' - happily, not by people around here - have been flung against French people because of the capitulation in 1940*. As a historian, it's one of the things I can't stand. The actions around Stonne show just how bravely the French fighting man fought for his country, and how idiots like Gamelin, Georges, Gort, Barret, Dowding, the Dutch government (who could be said to have betrayed their own troops) and others let the opportunity to stop the Germans in 1940 pass. If those men had shown half as much courage as the men in fighting in France from four nations, then World War Two may well have been over in 1941.

(*Don't get me started on Agincourt.)
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  #30  
Old 10-01-2009, 02:40 AM
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Nobody can doubt there were acts of bravery on both individual and unit level.
Where the issues laid, and basically why they were trounced so quickly, is really due to the lack of understanding of how tanks and modern equipment should be used. The Germans got it fairly right, intergrating their forces, making breakthroughs and exploiting them (blitzkrieg).

Unfortunately pretty much the rest of the world saw things differently and used their vehicles etc in a completely different, and ultimately ineffective (for the most part) way, technicques etc which would change and develop over the next few years.

The same happened in the first world war. NOBODY understood the true lethality of the "modern" battlefield, something shown time and time again with the bayonet "charges" (at a walk) against dig in machineguns....
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