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Blitzkrieg Campaign - A Defiant Gesture
by Paul Rohrbaugh


The German invasion of France, Codenamed Case Yellow, began on May 10th. The Germans began the campaign with a massive feint through Belgium supported by parachute (Fallschirmjager) attacks that captured the massive Belgian fortress complex of Eben Emael in a matter of hours, and knocked Holland out of the war in three days. The main German attack was conducted by an armored fist of six panzer divisions that drove through the weakly held Ardennes forest to capture bridgeheads over the Meuse River at Dinant and Sedan.

After a hard fight the Germans took the town of Sedan and were next threatening to expand their bridgehead over the Meuse River. The remnants of the French 67th Reserve Infantry Division held the heights south of the river, in and around the town of Stonne, keeping the tenuous Allied line intact. A breakout here would split the Allied armies in two, and allow the Panzers to spread havoc into their enemy’s rear areas. To strike back the French 2nd Army’s high command ordered the heavy and light tanks of the 49th and 45th Armor Brigades to the front. At the same time the German’s Grossdeutschland Regiment and 8th Panzer Division began their assault.

Scenario: A Defiant Gesture


The French counter-attack initially surprised the Germans, who were shocked to see so much of the French armor suddenly appear over the heights. However, the French tankers, despite being in larger and somewhat heavier fighting vehicles, were out-maneuvered and subjected to constant attack by the Luftwaffe. By the end of the day the defending French survivors were forced to pull back after suffering heavy losses. The German’s “dash to the channel” was about to begin.

Additional Reading:

Doughty, Robert A. "Almost a Miracle." Military History Quarterly, volume 2, number 3 (1990), 42-51.

-. Breaking Point: Sedan and the Fall of France, 1940. Hamden, Connecticut: Archon Books, 1990.

Mansoor, Peter B. "Second Battle of Sedan, May 1940." Military Review, volume 68, number 6 (1988), 64-75.

Nimmo, David. "Blitzkrieg 1940: How and Why the Germans Won." Command, number 42 (March 1997), 44-57.

Shepperd, Alan. France 1940: Blitzkrieg in the West. Danbury, Connecticut: Grolier Educational, 1997.

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