...The Collapse of France, from Osprey Publishing
Title: Case Red
Author: Robert Forczyk
This is a new paperback edition of a book first published back in 2017. It is I believe the first English language book to cover the final three weeks of the German campaign which defeated France in 1940. The first stages had been Fal Gelb (Case Yellow) which was the successful German invasion of France and Belgium in early May 1940. After the German forces reached the coast at Abbeville and the bulk of the BEF were evacuated from Dunkirk. With one major operation successfully accomplished, Hitler gave the instruction for Fal Rot (Case Red), the plan to conquer the remainder of France.
The first half of the book looks back at the period after WW1, from the military situation and political background in France as well as in Belgium, the UK and other European countries, along with the military story of the invasion up until the Dunkirk evacuation and the German army reaching the coast at Abbeville. There is clearly a lot of research behind the book, including the equipment of the French army, air force and Navy and their spending in the pre-war period.
For so many books the story of the Blitzkrieg of 1940 ends with the Dunkirk evacuation. It wasn't the end for France however, and what makes this book that bit different is that it goes on in the second half to cover in detail the second stage of the invasion, what the Germans classified as Fal Rot. The second half of the book, chapters 5 through to 10 tell us the second half of the story of the Battle of France. Starting with the Failure at Abbeville, and the defeat of the armoured counter attacks by De Gaulle are detailed and then on to the defensive attempts at the Weygand Line and Decision on the Aisne, when the path to Paris was opened up for the Germans to take the city without any attempt to fight within the city itself, and thus preserve it from widespread destruction. After this we get Disintegration as the fall of France was now certain. There was still room for some French success though, with Mussolini's Gamble, when Italian assaults through the Alps were repulsed by defenders who still stood by their tasks. Then finally we get to Occupation, which also includes comments on the impact of certain individuals whose individual decisions had a significant impact on the conduct of operations, These include Guderian for the German forces, Weygand for France and Brooke for his withdrawal of the 2nd BEF. Finally there is a lot more detailed information held within a Glossary and some Appendices which all add to the high level of detail to be found in this one. The campaign that finally completed the defeat of France in 1940 was over in a very short time frame, and I learnt a lot from this one, well worth reading.
Thanks to Osprey Publishing for this review copy.