Tuesday, March 17, 2009

The Fall of France

The French garrison of Lille fought on while the Dunkirk evacuation proceeded, but with the collapse in the north the Germans regrouped and struck southwards. There was more heavy fighting in the often-neglected part of the campaign. The British 51st Highland Division, a fine Scots Territorial formation which had been fighting under French command, was forced to surrender at St Valery-en-Caux on June 12. The Germans entered Paris on June 14, and on June 22, an armistice was signed at Rethondes, in the Forest of Compiègne — scene of the 1918 armistice negotiations.

German air power was dominant throughout the campaign. The Junkers Ju 87 Stuka dive-bomber (above) with its characteristic gull-winged silhouette, acted as "flying artillery" for advancing German tanks.

Major General Erwin Rommel (below), Commander of 7th Panzer Division, in satisfied mood at St-Valéry, June 12th. A grim-faced Major General Fortune of the 51st Highland Division stands behind him.

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