Sir John Valentine Carden survives.

Coulsdon Eagle

Monthly Donor
Ouch. The last few updates really bring out just what a disaster this phase of the battle was for the Allies and why it was considered such a miracle that the BEF was able to reach the coast and evacuate. If you look at the maps, the BEF and the French troops with it are in what is effectively a salient, much deeper than it is wide, being pressed on both flanks by superior forces.. The remaining Allied troops north of the Somme are immobile in mutually non-supporting pockets, ready to be crushed one by one. Most popular histories I've seen tend to gloss over the often-desperate fighting simply to get the troops to Dunkirk, skipping lightly from Arras to the beaches.

I also hadn't realised that much of the fighting was taking place on the old WW1 Flanders battlefields. Looking at the map , I can't see Passchendaele, but Ypres, Wytschaete, Ploegstreet, Armentieres - they're all there.
As a regular visitor to the Ypres Salient, primarily for WW1, I regularly see plots of WW2 graves in CWGC cemeteries, especially to the south (Bedford House a good example) but also in their own right in communal cemeteries further to the east of Ypres beyond the WW1 sites. Quite a few too around the Nieppe Forest to the west.
 
The draft on the Cardiff was 14ft 6in and Galatea was 14ft, which isn't much more than some of the late J & K class units which had a draft of 12 ft 6in. On the other hand the old WW1 built S-Class units had a draft a hair under 10ft and were significantly shorter, which would have been a distinct advantage in the confined waters off Dunkirk.
 

Orry

Donor
Allan would need to move the thread to ASB :D
More seriously, no, they simply aren't equipped for this - pretty sure at this point in time the ships couldn't even talk to the aircraft (only the carrier force would be capable of this, and they aren't going anywhere near the channel. And even then, I'm not sure if the FAA and RAF radio setups are compatible.
Larger ships did tend to carry spotter aircraft........ I think they could talk to their own planes
 
Not saying that committing a battleship would be a good idea, but didn't Warspite put up a spotter plane at Narvik?

Bah...ninja'd TWICE! :)
 
It's not a bad idea, provided the French keep fighting.
Or if they don't, dust off the old English 100 Year War claims and keep going, via Edward III til George III, dropped with formation of United Kingdom in 1800

'If the French won't fight for that land, the English will'
Almost imagine Churchill saying something along those lines
 
Fairly sure at this time spotter planes radio wouldn't have talked to the Army. Spotters weren't intended to be used where there were fighters around, far too vulnerable.
Although one point might be that after this they fix these problems
 
Or if they don't, dust off the old English 100 Year War claims and keep going, via Edward III til George III, dropped with formation of United Kingdom in 1800

'If the French won't fight for that land, the English will'
Almost imagine Churchill saying something along those lines
It would put a whole different spin on the Franco-British Union idea...
 
Allan would need to move the thread to ASB :D
More seriously, no, they simply aren't equipped for this - pretty sure at this point in time the ships couldn't even talk to the aircraft (only the carrier force would be capable of this, and they aren't going anywhere near the channel. And even then, I'm not sure if the FAA and RAF radio setups are compatible.
They're not. One of the changes done to convert Hurricanes to Sea Hurricanes is to change the Radios to allow them to talk to their parent ship.
 
29 May 1940. Calais, France & 29 May – 3 June 1940. Dunkirk, France.
29 May 1940. Calais, France.

The firing died away, as the Citadel, 30th Brigade’s HQ, finally fell to the Germans. Brigadier Nicholson and his staff were captured and marched off into captivity. There were still one or two strongpoints in the town and around the docks, but for the 10th Panzer Division, capturing the Citadel marked the completion of a most difficult and costly operation.

The British and French defenders had sold themselves highly, overcome as much by the lack of ammunition and water as by enemy action. The Infantry Tanks of the 8th Bn RTR had provided the infantry with much needed support, but the lack of ammunition had meant that they were abandoned and destroyed by their own crews more than by German fire.

The Royal Navy had provided much needed fire support and a number of small craft, such as echo-sounding yacht Conidaw and the launch Samois had ran in and out carrying in supplies and carrying out the wounded. For five days a Brigade of Infantry, with two companies of tanks, had held off a Panzer Division. The decision not to evacuate the 30th Brigade from Calais the way the 20th Guards Brigade had been pulled out of Boulogne, was done partly to placate the French. Holding Calais to the last man and last round had been the sacrifice asked of Nicholson and his men. They had done more than had been expected of them.

29 May – 3 June 1940. Dunkirk, France.

During the night of 28/29 May more of the BEF had withdrawn in line with the plans made for them. Things became a bit more complicated as the roads towards the coast were congested as both the French and British withdrew, the French heading for the western side of the pocket, the British to the eastern side, often crossing across one another. The French were further hampered by still being mostly horse-powered rather than the motorised British formations.

Daylight saw the procession of ships and boats back and forth between the mole and the beaches, all the while an aerial battle took place above them. Lord Gort had received a request from the Prime Minister to look at sending a relief force to Calais. The commander of the BEF could only imagine someone poring over a map, and not being fully aware of the situation, and so decided it was request to be ignored.

What worried Gort more was the position of the French on the Aa from Gravelines, they had been under heavy pressure from the Germans and, with some British support in the form of Infantry Tanks from 8th Bn RTR had managed to hold. If they withdrew to the canal at Mardyck, as they were threatening to do, then the Germans would be in position to bring up their artillery to within range of Dunkirk. Gort therefore ordered that the remnant of the First Army Tank Brigade to support the French to hold back the Germans to the best of their ability. For the first time elements of the 4th, 7th and 8th Battalions Royal Tank Regiment finally came together, originally all three were meant to form the Tank Brigade. This hadn’t happened before the disaster of the German attack had unfolded. The surviving A11 and A12 Infantry Tanks were barely more than two full Companies worth, but they stiffened the French forces, until the tanks were destroyed by enemy action, or by their own crews after running out of fuel and ammunition.

Over the days that followed the British and French rear-guard troops held off repeated attacks, while the evacuation carried on apace from the beaches and the mole. As far as possible the British troops carried their personal weapons as they evacuated. Some of the units which were in better shape also managed to take some of their heavier support weapons, but most heavy machine guns, mortars, anti-tank guns, and almost all ammunition, were left with the rear-guard to strengthen their positions.

At 23:30hrs on 3 June the signal was received in Dover from Captain Tennant, the RN commander of the evacuation “BEF evacuated.” He had sent it after he, accompanied with General Harold Alexander, the senior Army Officer, toured the beaches and harbour in a motorboat calling for any British troops to show themselves, none did.

193000 BEF soldiers had been evacuated, part of the total of 388000, which would include French troops evacuated the following day and night.

NB Text in italic differs from OTL. Obviously Calais fell earlier, but I think I've added about a day extra of holding out. The other change if the French continuing to hold the line at Gravelines, which takes some pressure off the defenses as the German artillery are a bit farther away. The rest of the evacuation has to be carried out pretty much as OTL. Personal weapons would have been easier to be carried aboard ship from the mole rather than the beaches, but there aren't that many drivers to say that the evacuation could have been done that much better than it was. It was extraordinary in itself, and anything much better is heading for ASB. As OTL all the infantry tanks are lost (except the 3 Valiants of course) and having the 8 RTR in Calais rather than 3 RTR means that there's about fifty less infantry tanks in the UK.
 
May I ask that someone elaborate on the inability to get ammunition and fuel forward to the British troops? Was it that there was none to send? That they had it, but chose not to send it? That there were no facilities to receive it in the port? Or no trucks (or horses) to bring it forward? Many thanks in advance for the clarification.....
 
I get the feeling that unlike otl the Bovington Tank Museum will almost certainly have an intact A-11 as part of its collection since it will probably be in production for at least several months longer
 
So there we are, the BEF has left France and the evacuation has gotten out 50000 more troops than OTL. Now not all of them are going to be British, in fact I think the number of British troops evacuated is about 5000 less than OTL though I could be wrong on that.

SO where does that leave us, well the Infantry tank has really proven it's worth as a concept ITTL's fall of France. I expect quite a few reports will mention that results may well have gone differently had the infantry tanks not been present and their ability to shrug off fire made them very effective. The vulnerability of the cruiser tanks by comparison may well be more acutely felt TTL.
I also suspect that there will be a feeling among many in the BEF that when they were actually able to go up against the Germans they at least gave as good as they got. ultimately superior numbers and the collapse of the French will be seen as the truly deciding factors. It also is not an unfair assessment of events. Now the loss of the extra infantry tanks over OTL is a blow to Britain, or it would be if Carden had not gotten the Valiant such high production priority. I fully expect the losses will be made good and Britain will be in a better position in terms of tank numbers before long.

Now what happens next, well beyond the possibility of some more troops being sent to France in a futile attempt to prevent France folding it is time to prepare for invasion. Or at least the prospect of invasion. Now with the slightly better evacuation meaning more troops got out with their personal equipment and even some heavier bits Britain is less starved for resources. Those troops who got out with their equipment will also be in better moral compared to OTL. Add that to the probable improved moral of the BEF and the invasion panic should not be as acute.
What affect that will have is still to be seen but it can only be positive.

Now for @allanpcameron, that was a fantastic update again. Well done on getting the story to this point in such a believable way whilst also remaining engaging and thought provoking.
Keep up the grand work.
 

perfectgeneral

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A nod to the armchair generals with that post.

The greater proportion of evacuation via the mole keeps units equipped with small arms, at least. Viable invasion defence forces. (points already well made!) The French will be repatriated in time to surrender, unless they see the prospect as likely and choose to fight on from Britain.
 
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