|Blitzkrieg Campaign Pt. 2 - They Shall Not Pass?|
“The onslaught of the mechanical and motorized forces of the enemy must now be faced. The hour has come to fight in depth on the positions appointed by the high command. One is no longer entitled to retire. If the enemy makes a breach, it must not only be sealed off but counter-attacked and retaken.”
--General Maurice Gamelin, May 16th, 1940.
On May 10th, 1940 the Germans launched “Case Yellow”, the invasion of France, Belgium, and the Netherlands. To distract the Allies from their main offensive effort through the Ardennes, a massive feint, led by the 3rd and 4th Panzer Divisions, was launched by the Germans against the Allied positions along the Dyle River in Belgium.
Following the battle at nearby Gembloux the French forces along the Dyle River were forced to give ground before the advancing 3rd and 4th Panzer Divisions. Both sides were bloodied, but the German’s air superiority, as well as superior tank tactics/doctrine by the invaders, were proving the decisive factors in this new war.
Scenario BK-2: They Shall Not Pass? The Battle of Hannut.
Hoping to finally stop the Germans, and allow a redeployment to meet the more dangerous enemy advance to the south through the Ardennes, the 3rd Division Legeres Mechaniques (DLM), along with survivors of the 11th Regiment de Dragons Portes (RDP) were ordered to hold in and around Hannut. The battle for France and Belgium was in the balance…
Prime Minister Winston Churchill: Where is the Strategic Reserve?
General Gamelin: Aucune (there is none).
--Exchange in Paris, May 16th, 1940.
As at the battle of Gembloux, fought the days before, the French put up a stubborn defense and once again German air superiority and better tank tactics proved to be the deciding factors. The 3rd and 4th Panzer Divisions paid a high price for driving the French from the field, and played little part in the rest of “Case Yellow” as they tended to their wounded and repaired damaged vehicles. Ultimately, the fight here only served to tie-down and exhaust the 3rd DLM. Its redeployment to the south could’ve been decisive in dealing with the German breakthroughs at Dinant and Sedan, but such “what ifs” are fodder for war gaming and debate.