Florennes, Belgium

15 May 1940

Background

The German thrust into Belgium and France in May 1940 caught both the French and British by surprise with the speed of the advance. This was no World War I trench warfare -- this was a modern war of fast armored exploitation aided by heavy air support.

One partial stall to the German offensive happened at Dinant on the River Meuse, but on the 13th and 14th of May the river was crossed, and the Germans took Dinant and the high ground just west at Onhaye. The French General Martin ordered his main defense, 18th and 22nd Infantry Divisions, to fall back to a line running north-south through Florennes, some 30km west of Dinant.

On the morning of May 15th, Rommel ordered his 7 Panzer Division to drive west from Dinant to Philippeville, 34km to the west of Dinant along the main road. His advanced was stopped by the French 1st Armored Division, which was waiting for fuel (perhaps near Rosée?). After a stiff fight, rather than fight into the strength of the French defense, Rommel withdrew and allowed 5 Panzer Division to flank the French.

By the end of the day, the French 1st Armored Division was down to a handful of Char-B and some misc other tanks. Having inflicted heavy losses on the lighter German tanks, they were no longer in any shape to fight. 5 Panzer meanwhile had moved through the line of resistance and had passed through Philippeville and Cerfontaine beyond.




Setup

The battle represents the initial contact between the lead elements of 7 Panzer and the French 1st Armor Division. The battle should take place near Rosée or in the boundary between the woods and open ground between Rosée and Florennes. Terrain is rolling and wooded in patches, but not the bocage further east.

The Germans enter the board on the road or paralleling it, with the recon (SdKfz 231's) in the lead, followed by the PzII+III company and the PzII+Pz38t company. The sIG self-propelled artillery is with the Pz38t's. The Heavy Company (PzIV's) follows, but due to slower speed will be somewhat delayed in entering the battlefield (Referee's discretion). The Germans should receive air support from Stuka squadrons at regular intervals.

The French will be pre-deployed around the map in a non-optimal manner, even to the point of breaking up companies of tanks into "creative" detachments. The French tanks are better than their German equivalents -- they should be handicapped by extreme difficulties in command. With low-initiative troops in irregular detachments and no radios, this should provide the necessary challenge. The infantry company has two batteries of light howitzers (and associated FO's). Unlike many scenarios, these have to be placed on-board, since this is a breakthrough scenario into the French rear areas.

When I set up the scenario, I showed where the French thought all their troops were, let them draw a map, and then after they left the room I displaced them on a referee-only map by a foot or two. I gave the French two runners on motorcycles to drive around from HQ and deliver orders. These met with mixed success, once delivering orders to the wrong group, once being greatly delayed after being strafed by a passing Stuka, once not finding the recipient of the orders. Your French players have to be forgiving types to put up with such conditions!

This is a great scenario to give the French a machinegun bunker, pillbox or two, and/or dragon's-teeth tank obstacles.




map

Maps

Campaign Map
Dinant-Philippeville Road Map
Area Road Map for Setup
Overhead Photo of Battlefield for Play



Photos

sample Photos from the scenario


toe

Tables of Organization & Equipment

German pdf
French pdf



Primary Sources



homeBack to Armor Home Daryl's mail