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"Case Red: The Collapse of France by Robert Forczyk" Topic

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18 Nov 2019 9:32 p.m. PST
by Editor in Chief Bill

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LT Sparker18 Nov 2019 6:17 p.m. PST

Dear All,

For what its worth, my opinion on this book.

First up, Forczyk has served, which is impotant to me in any author on military history I can't abide armchair lancers who deride commander's operational decision making, whilst their most stressful moment was spilling their sherry on the Dean's carpet.

Secondly, this book, despite the title and blurb, actually goes into great combat detail on Case Yellow as well, so in one volume you have all you need to know about land and air combat over France and the Low Countries in 1940.

Thirdly, it is revisionist, but in a reasoned and qualified way Alanbrooke in particular comes out very badly as a mutinous defeatist, which was a disappointing surprise to me. I was however proud and pleased to see masses of accounts and evidence that the French Army and air force fought hard to the bitter end, and, occasionally, fought well.

Useful maps which are well annotated illustrate the key actions of the campaign, up to Osprey standards.

An ex tanker, Forczyk dwells on armour combat, but this suits me down to the ground. He also manages to weave in the air action in an interesting way. Less entertainingly, he brings out the atrocities committed by the German Heer as well as SS, mainly against the tough, hard fighting African troops, who seemed to only surrender once their ammo had gone…

In sum, a scholarly but entertaining work and highly recommended by Sparks!

PCS Dane19 Nov 2019 3:38 a.m. PST

Second your opinion. Good book, fresh perspective.

Patrick Sexton Supporting Member of TMP19 Nov 2019 12:37 p.m. PST

Thanks for the heads up on this.

Chuckaroobob19 Nov 2019 2:34 p.m. PST

Its on my list!

Stalkey and Co20 Nov 2019 3:42 p.m. PST

wow, cool – some interesting if brief periods of WWII history…the French resistance to the German invasion!

Have to try and find this at the library. At the moment, all I have is "Sixty Days that Shook the West" which is a bit….political to be polite.

Russ Lockwood24 Nov 2019 3:30 p.m. PST

Excellent Book. My Review:

Case Red: The Collapse of France, by Robert Forczyk. This book comes in three parts:

an excellent overview of pre-war manufacturing, strategic priorities, and efforts to field armies;

excellent recap of Case Yellow, the German invasion and drive to the sea;

and Case Red, the follow-up attack that drove south from the Somme River and forced France to capitulate.

Well written, well argued, and well received. Enjoyed it.

Mark 125 Nov 2019 12:46 p.m. PST

I too offer high praise for the book.

It provides far greater insight into the French 1940 campaign than other books I have read, including several French language sources.

I agree that it is revisionist (with a small "r") … in that it provides new insights and a new reading to this period of history. I would say there are two common perspectives, two "easy answers" that this book ignores, as it searches for a new perspective on a campaign that is otherwise difficult to explain.

The two common perspectives that this book ignores, I would characterize as:

1) British view: The French were weak and unprepared. The Maginot Line was a waste. Comms were poor. The British tried their best to support their ally, but the BEF wasn't enough to carry the day, and after it was withdrawn from Dunkirk it was all over for the French.

2) French view: French political leadership was weak and divided, with communists sabotaging everything, and the British were little more than a supposed ally who abandoned them. Germans had everything together, and were unbeatable in those days.

Instead what Forczyk writes, and backs with excellent and well-sourced research, is a highly nuanced layering of so much that was wrong in French policy before the war even began, of bold courage wasted by insufficient follow-up, of a German Army who's biggest advantage was not just mobility, but firepower at the sharp end of the stick, of confusion and the practical implications of "order, counter-order, disorder", and of real distance between the intentions, understanding, and commitments of political and military leadership in both Britain and France.

And perhaps as important (and as the title infers), it tells the story of a campaign that did NOT end at Dunkirk. Of a a 2nd BEF backed by political will and commitment, but composed largely of a second round of troops with no application of battlefield experience or combat lessons, and bereft of commitment in it's military leadership. While on the other hand there was a French army learning and applying lessons from their early failures, but running out of space, combat forces, time and … at the very top … commitment.

I found it an engaging, entertaining and enlightening read.

(aka: Mk 1)

emckinney25 Nov 2019 11:22 p.m. PST

Despite accusations of defeatism and division, no one tried to give the French army's plans to the Germans, the French army didn't have a plan to overthrow the government, and no one serious was plotting to kill Daladier.

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