Friday, March 25, 2011

The Road To Adepticon: Un citoyen va à la guerre pour la France

'We have gone to war with a 1918 army against a German army of 1939. It is sheer madness.'
-General Weygand, in conversation with French PM Reynaud 25 May 1940

This Early War force represents elements of the 59eme Division Legere D'Infantrie (59th DLI) shortly after the German breakthrough at Sedan, upon its formation around 20 May 1940. The French Light Infantry Divisions began forming from the scattered elements of both Active and Reserve Infantry Divisions that were routed after the fall of the Meuse River defense line.

Before the breakthrough, the French GHQ - fatally believing in the 'impenetrability' of the Ardennes forest to German mechanized divisions - stationed several Reserve Infantry Divisions along the Meuse River in X Corps, under the command of Gen. Huntzinger.

Contrary to popular belief, many of these divisions initially had high morale and unit cohesion. However, due to constant shifting of units and changes in leadership (including the imprisonment of an officer for performing target practice with one of the division's few anti-tank guns) led to confusion. The divisions were further handicapped by having little to no anti-tank and anti-aircraft weaponry.

Unfortunately, the Ardennes had no measurable effect on delaying Guderian's Panzer divisions. Sedan was the 'hinge' upon which the Wehrmacht's "Sickle Cut" would begin, pushing enemy divisions into the Allied rear and towards the coast, dividing the Allied forces in two. On May 12th, lead elements of the Wehrmacht crossed the Meuse and entered the city of Sedan against little resistance. As German forces advanced beyond Sedan, they met stiff resistance and heavy artillery fire. These successes were short-lived as Luftwaffe air attacks, and the X Corps virtual inability to counter them with either AA fire or fighter interception, led to a general rout of French forces.

A counterattack by French armor on the 14th came too late to exploit the Panzer
divisions' precarious hold on its bridgehead on the 13th and suffered heavy losses. By 17 May, German forces had broken through the French lines and began driving, unopposed, to the coast.

On 20-21 May, surviving elements of the 55th Reserve Division, 71st Reserve Division, 147th Fortress Infantry, & 7th Tank Battalion were re-organized under the 59th DLI. It is represented as accurately as possible by containing no anti-aircraft or anti-tank weaponry, having a depleted Fusiliers platoon, strong artillery support (X Corps possessed nearly 200 artillery pieces before the fall of Sedan), and R-35 tanks (standing in for the more common FCM-36).

59eme DLI

HQ Platoon
CC Rifle Team, 2iC Rifle Team
60mm Mortar Team
Resupply Section (3x Renault UE Carriers)

Combat Platoons
Fusiliers-Voltigeurs Platoon (Cmd. Rifle Team, VB Team, 6x Rifle/MG Teams)
Fusiliers-Voltigeurs Platoon (Cmd. Rifle Team, VB Team, 4x Rifle/MG Teams)

Weapons Platoons
Fusiliers-Voltigeurs HMG Platoon (Cmd. Rifle Team, 4x HMG Teams)

Support Platoons
Fusilier-Voltigeurs Mortar Platoon (Cmd. Rifle Team, Obs. Rifle Team, 4x 81mm Mortar Teams)
Horse-Drawn 75mm Artillery Battery (Cmd. Rifle Team, Obs. Rifle Team, 4x 75mm Artillery Teams)
Light Tank Platoon (3x Renault R-35s)

Pics coming soon!

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