- [Narrator] Early morning, September the 1st 1939.
German troops cross the Polish border
and, without active aggression, they bring to an end
the last hope of peace for Europe.
World War II has begun.
For the previous 10 years, the League of Nations
had been trying to preserve the increasingly fragile peace
through constant calls for world disarmament.
But those calls had fallen on deaf ears
as a number of nations had been invaded
and overrun by Germany, Italy and Japan,
the so-called Axis powers.
Now, it was the turn of Poland.
Her allies, France and Britain, gave Germany an ultimatum
to withdraw her troops, but Hitler simply ignored them
and his tanks roared across the Polish countryside.
The world was stunned.
There was none of that patriotic fervor
which the outbreak of World War I had witnessed.
Not even in Germany.
The horrors of that first World War were still remembered
and, now, there was the added fear
of the massive destruction of cities from air raids.
Germany had, for years, laid claim
to parts of Poland's territory.
And that was Hitler's excuse for this invasion.
France and Britain alone seemed prepared
to support Poland against him.
Fortunately for them, Hitler's ally, Mussolini,
dictator of Italy was content to stay out on the sidelines.
But France and Britain had hoped for Russia's support.
Instead, Russia had just recently astonished the world
by signing a non-aggression pact with the Nazis
- the old enemies of Stalin and his government.
To make matters worse, the Russians themselves
invaded Poland in the east on the pretext
of historic claims to the territory.
In attacking Poland, Hitler thus knew he had nothing
to fear from America or Russia.
But he had to move fast to take Poland
before France and Britain could actively oppose him.
The military answer lay in the technique of Blitzkrieg.
(plane engine roaring)
The notion of Blitzkrieg or Lightning War had been conceived
by the Germans during the 1930s
and even put into limited practice during their involvement
three years earlier in the Spanish Civil War.
Blitzkrieg was based on surprise attack.
Two main elements were involved.
The weapon on the ground
was the Panzer Division of high speed tanks.
And they attacked in liaison
with the dive bomber from the air.
The most famous of these was the terrifying
Stuka JU87 dive bomber.
(plane engines roaring)
The Stuka's part was to pound away
at the enemy on the ground, carving a path for the tanks
to thrust in and divide the enemy troops.
Those troops, once isolated, could then be quickly mopped up
by the German infantry following the tanks.
But there was a problem.
The infantry on foot could fall
too far behind their speeding tanks.
Through her position at the heart of Europe,
Poland had long and numerous frontiers to defend.
To the east lay Russia.
And, in the west, Germany.
While to the north was East Prussia,
a part of the German Reich.
There were also German forces in Slovakia to the south.
The defense of such a long, multinational frontier
placed large demands upon the Polish army,
an army relatively ill-equipped.
Her air force was less than a fifth the size of Germany's
and her weapons mostly obsolete.
Almost within minutes of the start of the German invasion,
Germany also attacked by sea as her battleship,
the Schleswig-Holstein fired on Poland's fortress
in Danzig harbor, a city which the Germans
regarded historically as theirs.
A main aim of the Blitzkrieg was to destroy
Poland's air force as far as possible on the ground.
When Polish aircraft did manage to get into the air,
they fought with ferocious courage.
But their air force was simply no match for the might
of the Luftwaffe, Germany's air force.
The German bombers pounded railways,
roads and bridges incessantly, cutting off communications,
hindering Polish troop movements everywhere.
Each time the Luftwaffe softened up resistance
through air attack, the German tanks moved in to encircle
the Polish infantry divisions.
Then, as the German infantry mopped up the isolated
Polish troops, the German tanks pressed further on.
These tactics rapidly resulted
in large numbers of Polish prisoners of war.
In spite of their courageous stand,
the Poles were unable to stem the enemy advance.
The Germans reached the Vistula river
on the outskirts of Warsaw, just 15 days later.
Even now, the Poles held out, hoping that Britain and France
would attack Germany itself from the west.
And, indeed, the French did advance a short distance
into actual German territory in the neighboring Saarland.
But the French generals were unwilling to push much further
from the protection of their Maginot Line defenses.
Meanwhile, the Polish people stood their ground
against overwhelming odds.
In fact, the Poles held out so successfully,
that the Germans were unable to take Warsaw on the ground.
So they turned to their air force
to soften up the resistance.
The people of Warsaw now faced the horrors
of aerial bombardment, which had become
so terrifyingly familiar to earlier victims,
such as the citizens of Guernica in Spain and the teeming
populations of Shanghai and Nanking in China.
But the people of Poland's capital still carried on.
So far, the Germans had overrun the Polish corridor,
which used to separate them
from the territory of East Prussia.
Now, southward from East Prussia itself,
encircling German thrusts had isolated Poland's capital.
While southern Poland now also faced attack
from German troops in Slovakia.
But the final blow came with the sudden attack
in the back from Russia as Russian troops
poured across her border from the east.
Poland now faced inevitable defeat.
With most of the Polish forces
concentrated on the other side of the country
to the west against the part of Germany,
the Russians met little resistance and were able
to advance at great speed into Poland.
Meantime, the German army swept
on eastwards almost unopposed.
Within two days of Russia's attack, the two invading armies
met at Brest-Litovsk, the historic site
where they had met before during the previous world war
when Russia had signed a peace treaty with Germany.
Even now, the conquest of Poland was still not final.
The Germans and Russians got down
to what they expected to be a simple mopping up
of the Polish army's last remnants.
But it was proving more difficult than they had expected.
The Poles not only held out, they were fighting back.
The Germans had still not been able to take Warsaw
and dropped leaflets over the city demanding surrender.
But the Poles ignored them so the bombing went on.
By now, all public services were destroyed.
No gas, no electricity, no water,
except what they could take from the River Vistula.
As food supplies ran out and the danger
of disease increased, the city was finally
forced to surrender.
And on the 27th of September,
less than one month from the day they crossed the border,
the Germans triumphantly entered Poland's capital.
Some Poles escaped to France and Britain
to form their own fighting units.
In Paris, the Polish General Sikorski
even set up a government in exile.
In Poland, yet another week went by before the nation
finally surrendered on October the 5th 1939
after an unbelievable valiant struggle
against two major and ruthless powers.
In 1919, Poland had become an independent sovereign state.
Now, a mere 20 years on, her freedom came to an end.
She was now partitioned.
The Germans took over in the west.
The Russians occupied the eastern half of Poland.
It didn't take long for the Nazis to impose
their brutal tyranny over western Poland.
It was the same in the east under the Russians.
But the full extent of Soviet brutality wasn't realized
until later after the Germans invaded Russia.
They discovered the bodies of 4,000 Polish soldiers
in a mass grave at Katyn in Western Russia in 1943.
The Poles had been murdered and buried there by the Russians
during their occupation of eastern Poland.
With the defeat of Poland now behind it,
Hitler was able to turn to his main aim,
to attack and occupy the small
neutral states of the Low countries.
And, from there, undertake the invasion
of Germany's age-old enemy, France.
His confidence was increased by the fact that France
and, indeed, Britain had not been ready
to provide military support for the Poles.
In fact, with the fall of Poland,
France had even brought her troops back home
out of Germany's Saarland territory
which they had briefly invaded and occupied earlier on.
With that move, the French had now retreated
to the security of their Maginot Line
with this inherent psychology of defense rather than attack.
Britain, for her part, was even more ill-prepared for war.
She had done little to equip her army
with modern weapons during two decades of peace
and, in no position to send adequate forces
to the continent, apart from a few divisions to France
after declaring war on Germany.
(boat horn blasting)
The problem with the Maginot Line was that it had been built
only along France's border with Germany to defend them
against direct attack from Germany itself.
But what if the Germans should be so unsporting
as to overrun neutral Belgium and attack France
from her undefended northern border?
So, somewhat late in the day, work actually started
on extending the Maginot Line westward
along the Franco-Belgium border
from Luxembourg towards the Channel.
Fortunately for the Allies, the winter of 1939/40
was unusually bitter and both the Allied and German armies
could do little more than sit it out.
In fact, the Blitzkrieg was then being called the Sitzkrieg,
the period more generally known as the Phoney War.
However, it provided a vital breathing space
for Britain and France to hastily improve their defenses.
In Britain, the great evacuation of schoolchildren
from the cities had been successfully carried out
and the children were well-established in the countryside.
Gas masks had been issued to everyone
and it was now compulsory
to carry them personally everywhere.
Both the Luftwaffe and Allied air forces had so far
held back from bombing each other's civilian population,
aware that that could be a double-edged sword.
The RAF had confined its aerial sorties
to attacks on military targets only
such as warships of the German fleet.
And those attacks had not been very productive.
As for civilian targets, the main RAF activity
was the dropping of propaganda leaflets.
By the end of the winter, the bitter weather had frozen
practically all military activity except, perhaps, at sea.
The German submarines, the Untersee or U-boats,
were unaffected by winter weather and were starting
to take their toll on allied shipping.
In fact, in one of the first incidents of the war,
on September the 3rd, a German U-boat
sank the passenger liner, the Athenia, in mid-Atlantic
killing over 100 people on board, including 26 Americans.
Britain immediately set up the convoy system
and declared a total blockade of Germany,
but it all took time to organize and the Royal Navy
was seriously short of escort vessels.
As a result, the U-boats sank more than a hundred ships
before the end of the year, though, these were mostly ships
that were sailing outside of the convoy system on their own.
The U-boats sank not only merchant vessels,
but also British naval ships including the aircraft carrier
Courageous and the battleship Royal Oak
in home waters at Scapa Flow near the Orkneys.
The U-boat skipper, Gunther Prien,
became an overnight hero in Germany.
Because of Hitler's relatively small U-boat force,
he had to use his modern surface fleet as well
to attack British shipping.
One of the most dramatic of the war's naval encounters
took place within the first month of the war.
The battleship Graf Spee was sinking British shipping
in the south Atlantic and Indian oceans.
She was eventually located by three British cruisers
operating from the Falkland islands.
On the 13th of December, they fought her
off the Argentine coast near the mouth of the River Plate.
Although outgunned, the British ships forced her
to seek refuge in neutral Montevideo harbor.
Captain Langsdorff, believing that a larger British force
had now arrived and was waiting for them
at the estuary of the Plate, scuttled his ship
rather than allow her to be sunk by his enemies.
A few days later, he committed suicide.
This was about the only positive success
that French and British arms enjoyed in 1939.
The crews of two of the British ships, Exeter and Ajax,
were feted as heroes on the return to Britain.
Anglo-French attention also turned
to Scandinavia before the year was out.
Stalin feared that his small northern neighbor, Finland,
which had thrown off the yoke of Russian rule in 1919,
would allow German forces in.
This posed a threat to Leningrad, Russia's second city.
It also endangered the vital Arctic port of Murmansk.
He, therefore, demanded of the Finns
an exchange of territory
offering them a desolate Russian region in return
for Finnish areas which would secure Murmansk and Leningrad.
The Finns refused.
And, on the 30th of November 1939,
Stalin's forces attacked them.
Given Finland's massive numerical inferiority and manpower
and her lack of modern weapons,
it should have been an easy Russian victory.
Yet the Finns held out inflicting
very heavy casualties on the Russians.
The fact was that Stalin's brutal purges of the 1930s
had so depleted the senior ranks of the Soviet armed forces
that they were now commanded by inexperienced officers.
Semyon Timoshenko, one of the few senior officers
to survive the purges, now took charge
and attacked again in February 1940.
His land offensive and Russian air attacks
soon began to tell.
In early March, the Finns sued for peace.
They were forced to surrender the territory
that the Russians had originally demanded.
The result was a mass exodus of Finns from those regions.
The western Allies had wanted to help the Finns
by passing troops through the port of Narvik
in neutral Norway, but Narvik was vital for Germany too
since Swedish iron ore bound for Germany
also passed through this port.
The German navy was also attracted by Norway's fjords
as bases for its operations against Britain.
Hitler, therefore, ordered invasion plans to be drawn up.
Before his plans were completed,
the British destroyer Cossack entered a Norwegian fjord
in February 1940 and rescued British prisoners of war
from the German prison ship Altmark
which had taken refuge there.
This incident accelerated Hitler's invasion plans
and his invasion fleet set sail on April the 6th
to occupy Norwegian ports before the Allies.
The German fleet was spotted by an RAF aircraft the next day
and the British home fleet left port to intercept.
But a sudden gale blew up and prevented the British
from intercepting the German invasion fleet.
On the 8th of April, the Germans began their audacious
attacks on Norway as well as Denmark further south.
They landed at a number of points on the Norwegian coast.
Other forces landed in the Oslofjord and parachutes
were used to secure Stavanger airfield.
(plane engines roaring)
The unprepared and weak Norwegian forces could do little
in the face of all these simultaneous attacks.
(plane engines roaring)
By the afternoon of April 9th, the Germans were in complete
control of all seven Norwegian ports
where they had landed that morning.
For the first time in more than 200 years,
the people of Norway saw an invading army
parading through their capital city of Oslo.
The Germans began to advance north
to link up with their other landing forces.
They quickly spread through the country.
Small patrols occupied every strategic village.
Parachute troops landed high in the mountains.
Air raids on towns sent defenseless civilians
fleeing in total confusion.
Women and children, even able-bodied men,
poured onto any available cart to get out of the city.
Since the outbreak of the war,
Norway had insisted on staying neutral.
Now, that neutrality had left them without allies,
isolated and defenseless.
Before the British navy or ground troops
could come to Norway's aid, the Germans has gained control
of all her principal ports.
But British, French and free Polish units plunged in
and made several landings on the coast.
On the 10th and 12th of April, British destroyers
entered Narvik fjord to attack the German warships there.
During their engagement, they sank nine German destroyers
at a cost of two of their own.
They also attacked from the air.
The attack succeeded in isolating
the German ground force at Narvik.
The Allies landed and took the town
holding it for almost two months.
They also took their first prisoners since the war began.
But, in the end, the German overwhelming superiority
in the air proved to be the deciding factor.
It isolated the Allied landing from further support
and forced them to withdraw from their beachhead positions
under terrific aerial bombardment.
Against all odds, the Allies recaptured the port of Narvik,
but by June 1940 they were forced to finally abandon it.
Once more, German arms had proved triumphant.
Back home, the German people were jubilant
at the constant news of endless victories
by their armed forces.
But even more spectacular news was soon to greet them.
So far, the struggle for Norway had in some respects
been a distraction for Hitler from more important
strategic aims against Britain and France.
But he needed to secure his vital supplies
of precious iron ore from Sweden
which would have been threatened if the Allies
had controlled the Norwegian ports.
His primary aim was the conquest of the Low countries
and northern France as bases for its planned
onslaught against Britain.
Earlier that year, the Allies had been wondering
whether Hitler was turning away from the idea
of invading France and, possibly, Britain.
It seemed now that Hitler had lost the opportunity.
In the words of the British Prime Minister,
Neville Chamberlain, Hitler had missed the bus.
In fact, there had been a major debate in the German camp
over how the attack should be carried out.
The German army in the west was organized
into three army groups.
The original plan called for Field Marshall
von Bock's Army Group B in the north,
with the bulk of the tanks, to make the main effort
into Holland and Belgium and then sweep down the coast.
Gerd von Rundstedt's Army Group A
would support him on the southern flank.
Wilhelm von Leeb's smaller Army Group C
would remain on the defensive in front of the Maginot Line .
Gerd von Rundstedt, commander of Army Group A,
and more especially his Chief of Staff, Erich von Manstein,
objected to this plan.
It was too obvious and would leave a large French army
intact at the end of the operation.
Rather, the main thrust should be made by the army group
in the center with the aim of cutting off
the northern Allied armies.
Army Group B would overrun Holland
and hold the Allied attention in the north.
While Army Group C retained its defensive role
in front of the Maginot Line.
Hitler eventually agreed to this plan in mid March,
but the Norway campaign delayed its execution.
The Allied decision to establish their defense
in the north on an advance to the River Dyle
in neutral Belgium, the moment the Germans attacked,
played into the hands of the von Manstein plan.
The hilly and wooded Ardennes region of southeast Belgium,
through which the main German thrust would later come,
was mistakenly regarded by the Allies
as impassable to tanks.
The Allies labored under other disadvantages.
For a start, there was the matter of Belgium's neutrality.
Belgium refusal to allow British and French troops
across the frontier, meant that the Allies
could not carry out practice maneuvers in the area
where they intended to fight.
The Allies, especially the British,
had reinforced their armies to a higher level
during the winter, but many British divisions
were still ill-equipped.
Communications at the top were poor
and Allied Commander, Maurice Gamelin, was an academic
rather than a fighting general.
While the Allies actually had more tanks than the Germans,
some 3,300 as against almost 2,600,
many, like these British Matildas, were dedicated
to supporting British infantry
and were relatively slow moving.
The massive French Char Bis suffered
from having a one-man turret which meant that the occupant
had to both command the tank
and operate its gun at the same time.
The most serious Ally weakness was that Maginot mentality
which produced a rigidity of thought ill-suited
to coping with the highly fluid German Blitzkrieg.
The German attack was finally mounted
before dawn on the 10th of May.
German aircraft attacked Belgium, Dutch and French air bases
in order to destroy as much as possible
of the Allied air forces on the ground.
Shortly afterwards, the German ground forces
crossed the frontiers of Holland, Belgium and Luxembourg.
In the north, paratroops were used to secure vital bridges
needed for the advance of von Bock's tanks.
A complete division was landed on Dutch airfields
and roads in order to seize other vital points.
The Dutch, taking note of what happened in Norway,
put obstacles on runways and this caused heavy casualties.
Nevertheless, the Dutch army with its obsolete weapons
was no match for the highly tuned German war machine.
And much of their country had been overrun
in just five days.
On 14th of May, the Germans demanded the surrender
of the large port of Rotterdam.
The Dutch hesitated and, immediately, a large force
of German bombers took off to attack the city.
While the bombers were airborne,
the Dutch surrendered Rotterdam.
Unfortunately, the German bombers could not be contacted
or stopped and much of Rotterdam was needlessly destroyed.
Once again, those who foresaw the results
of aerial bombardment were proved right.
Next day the Dutch government capitulated.
As with Holland, the Germans had to face the problem
in northeast Belgium of initially tackling
waterways covered by guns.
The key to these defenses was the fort of Eben-Emael
which was attacked by glider-borne paratroop engineers.
Using hollow charge explosives and flamethrowers,
they forced a surrender much to the surprise of the Belgium
high command who believed Eben-Emael to be impregnable.
The main advance into Belgium could now get properly
underway and the Germans were soon thrusting westwards.
The Belgian forces, their exhaustion growing,
withdrew back towards the River Dyle.
Meanwhile, the best of the French and British armies
had crossed into Belgium on the 10th of May
to take up the positions on the River Dyle.
They ran into swarms of refugees coming the other way
which, in fact, often hindered the Allied armies' progress.
The Allied commander thought that the lightning tactics
of Blitzkrieg could operate only over flat open country.
But nothing could be further from the truth.
The Allies had believed that the well-wooded
and hilly country of the Ardennes forest,
with its numerous small rivers, would severely slow down
the westward thrust of the speeding German tanks and troops.
So they hadn't defended the area thoroughly
and the Germans met little opposition.
The German tanks advanced almost unimpeded
through the Ardennes preceded by well-trained
battalions of engineers.
They cleared pathways for the tanks to follow.
In fact, the Ardennes forests proved to be no barrier
at all to the techniques of Blitzkrieg.
In a mere three days, the Germans reached the banks
of the River Meuse infinitely faster
than the French could ever have believed.
Strategically, the Germans should have paused here
to bring up heavy artillery before attempting
to cross the river.
But, instead, they again relied
on the now well-tried weapon, the dive bomber.
They blasted the French positions across the Meuse.
With feverish haste, the Germans laid a barrage
across the river with anything
and everything they could shoot.
This tremendous concentration of firepower
continued all through the night.
By the following day, elite shock troops
were able to get across the river.
These shock troops held the bridgehead
until the engineers arrived and built their own bridges.
Then, without losing a minute,
the main armored force poured across these bridges
for the all important breakthrough into France
and onto the first main French town of Sedan.
The French now tried to use their four-armored divisions.
One only just formed and commanded by Charles De Gaulle.
These attempted to strike at the ever more exposed
flanks of the Panzer thrust.
But their cumbersome commander control system
and poor planning meant that they were sent
into battle piecemeal.
And the Germans had little problem warding them off
inflicting heavy casualties.
By the 15th of May, the Allied armies were holding firm
against pressure from von Bock's army group in the north.
But General Gamelin now became aware of the growing threat
from von Rundstedt's Panzers to the south.
He, therefore, ordered his forces to begin withdrawal
from the River Dyle defense position.
This sudden order to withdraw dismayed the Allied troops
who felt that they had been giving
a good account of themselves.
It was also bewildering for the local population.
The growing flood of refugees clogged roads
and made the withdrawal that much more difficult.
Von Rundstedt's Panzer Divisions
continued to sweep westwards creating more
and more confusion the deeper they penetrated.
Gamelin himself was now incapable of making any decisions.
And, on the 19th of May, was replaced by Maxime Weygand.
At the same time, Marshal Henri Petain, hero of Verdun
in the first world war, was made deputy Prime Minister.
Weygand tried to coordinate British and French tank attacks
into the flanks of the Panzer thrust.
Although the British temporarily halted some German attacks,
the Allied attacks were repulsed once more.
The German drive continued.
But the Allied tank attacks had made
the German high command nervous.
This was especially because the main body
of the German infantry was falling
further and further behind.
The exhaustion of the German tank crews was increasing
and a temporary halt was ordered.
But General Heinz Guderian, one of the prime architects
of Blitzkrieg, was determined to allow the Allies
no respite and pressed on once more.
On the 20th of May, his tanks reached the channel coast
at the mouth of the Somme.
The northern Allied armies fighting their way back
were now cut off.
Guderian advanced north and seized the port of Boulogne
before going on to attack Calais.
Here, a hastily organized British brigade, had just arrived
from England to reinforce the French defenders.
The reinforced garrison put up stiff resistance
and there was fierce fighting for two days.
Eventually, German superior strength toll
and the defenders were forced to surrender.
This left the northern Allied armies with the German noose
even tighter around their necks.
They were totally cut off from the French armies
in the Maginot Line and south of the River Somme.
The Belgians, their country almost totally overrun,
considered that further resistance was useless
and they now sought an armistice.
On the 27th of May, they surrendered.
The vacuum created by the surrender forced
the British and French into an even smaller perimeter.
Meanwhile, Lord Gott the British commander, had decided
that the evacuation of his force to England was the only
option other than surrender especially since German pressure
was intense on the Allied pocket which was based on Dunkirk.
The British troops, therefore, began to assemble
on the beaches here for what was to become known
as the miracle of Dunkirk.
Back in England, a large fleet of vessels
ranging from destroyers to cross-channel ferries,
down to small pleasure craft, had been hastily assembled.
They began to make their way across the channel
in order to take off the troops from the beaches.
The evacuation began on the 27th of May.
But the Germans made one mistake which brought
vital additional time to the evacuation.
Hitler halted the German tanks because Herman Goring
had persuaded him to allow the Luftwaffe
to finish off the Allied forces.
Several vessels were sunk.
RAF fighters based in southern England
made it possible for the evacuation to continue.
Eventually, though, with the French beaches
themselves now under direct artillery fire
and the sinking of ships increasing,
the evacuation had to be halted on the 3rd of June.
No less than 220,000 British and 120,000 French and Belgians
had been rescued to enable them to fight another day.
But they had to leave all their vehicles
and heavy weapons behind as well as many men who now faced
a long period as prisoners of war.
It had been a devastating defeat.
But the battle of France was not yet over.
And there was more work to be done before the German troops
could enjoy the fruits of victory.
On the 5th of June, while Army Group C continued to tie down
the Maginot defenses, the Germans struck south
across the River Somme and Aigne.
As usual, the Luftwaffe prepared the ground.
Initially, French resistance was fierce and the Germans
had to fight hard to break out of the bridgeheads.
But soon they began to make progress.
A trickle of surrendering French soon turned into a flood.
The Panzer columns raced onwards
with Paris now under threat.
The French government declared it an open city
on the 11th of June in order to avoid the devastation
which had befallen Warsaw and Rotterdam.
Four days later, the Germans secured the prize
which had alluded them in 1914.
Parisians could only watch stunned.
On the 16th of June, the French sought an armistice.
By this time, the Germans had finally begun to attack
the Maginot Line which had been encircled
by the offensive from the north.
The French defenders could do no more
than offer token resistance.
The Germans soon reduced the force.
They then occupied the Maginot Line.
France's impregnable bastion had fallen.
The French situation had been aggravated
on the 10th of June when Mussolini, who had stayed out
of the conflict in spite of pressure from Hitler,
declared war on Britain and France.
10 days later, expecting little or no opposition,
his troops invaded southern France,
but were surprised by the firm resistance they met
and made little headway.
Even though the British had had to evacuate
their forces from France, they did try
to send out another expeditionary force.
This time to Cherbourg, but by the time this was organized
and began to arrive at Cherbourg, it was too late
and it had to return to England.
Even if it had been landed, the force was most unlikely
to make any difference to the outcome.
The German forces had overrun and occupied
seven European nations over a period of less than 10 months.
In actual battle time, the period was less than 10 weeks.
The concept of Blitzkrieg or Lightning War,
had proved its effectiveness beyond question.
Winston Churchill had taken over
as Prime Minister on the 10th of May,
the day the German invasion of the west began.
He realized that Britain would be Hitler's next target
and began to prepare accordingly.
Across the English channel, on the 22nd of June 1940,
the French were brought to the armistices table
which was in the very same railway carriage
where the Germans had been made
to sign the November 1918 armistice.
It was the final indignity for the French,
but a moment of supreme triumph for Hitler.