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Old September 24, 2012, 10:13 PM   #101
Mike Irwin
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Join Date: April 13, 2000
Location: Northern Virginia
Posts: 36,074
"That the British were kicked out of mainland Europe at Dunkirk is an argument for precisely nothing to do with rifles. What it is an argument for, is superior German handling of armour."

Ah, damn it, Scouse, you gave away the answer!

Oh well, why not...

When the Germans began slashing through Belgium in mid May 1940, not with infantry, but with combined armor and ground air support, the Belgian Army quickly collapsed, leaving the British lines indefensible.

In response, Gen. Gort ordered an immediate withdrawal of British forces to the Dyle-Scheldt line. But, oddly enough, Heinz Guderian's Panzers, moving rapidly ahead of German infantry, crossed the Meuse river and were into the rear of the intended British line before it could be established, pushing a wedge between the Britsh and French.

At that point the German armor and the British forces, both fairly well mechanized, began leaving the relatively unmechanized German infantry well to the rear.

After an attempt to rejoin with the French was halted at the battle of Arras, Gort ordered a general and immediate retreat to the Channel coast.

Arras is of great interest for a couple of reasons, even though it was a British failure. First, it was the first major armored battle of the war. Second, it was going quite well for the British, with the spread out and rather exhausted German armored units fighting haphazardly, until a German general by the name of Rommel, commander of the Seventh Panzer Division, ordered his divisional support guns, the mightly 88, pressed into service as anti-tank guns.

By the time British and French troops began clustering in Dunkirk to await evacuation on 25 May, German infantry divisions of Army Group B were separated from the British forces by nearly FIFTY miles, while the infantry divisions in Army Group A had been sent in a sweeping move south against the French to the south of the Arras (with whom the British had tried to link up, and failed) Abbeville line.

They and their vaunted Mausers were even farther away from the British Expeditionary Force.

Now the real kicker...

By the time the infantry of Army Group B got anywhere close to Dunkirk and the Panzer units that they were supporting, the British and many of their French allies had been gone for nearly a week, courtesy of a joint decision by German ground commanders, confirmed by Hitler, to order a general halt to the advance based on Goering's assurances that the Luftwaffe could force the surrender of the trapped Anglo-French force.

In other words, the vaunted Mauser had virtually NOTHING to do with forcing the BEF out of France.
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Last edited by Mike Irwin; September 25, 2012 at 06:31 AM.
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