Flagg wrote:True, but if they had the forces and inclination for an offensive into Germany, the idea that they would have been defeated quicker is pretty ridiculous given how little the Western border of Germany was defended during the Polish campaign.
I will point out that a number of German 'lol' propaganda statements made postwar lie about the number of German troops in the west, usually claiming it was only 25 or even 23. In fact it was 35 divisions on outbreak of war (sometimes given as 34 as one airborne division was not complete), and as soon as France and the UK declared war it was reinforced by 9 more by September 10th.
Against this the French could 53 divisions in France, not counting those which had to face Fascist Italy, but including 13 static divisions which manned the Maginot Line system and had no other weapons except small arms.
So about 40 French divisions including several small mechanized divisions could have attacked 35-44 German second line divisions, past which point both sides could have begun reinforcing, France from more mobilization and shipped in men from North Africa (if Italy did not enter the war, remember nobody knows this in September 1939) but Germany could move men from the Polish front even quicker.
Also while Germany had few modern planes deployed west, the French had almost no modern bombers period and only a few hundred sort of modern fighters. Any shift of the Germans away from Poland would have had instant local command of the air wherever it decided to go. The defeat in 1940 was against much better odds in the air.
But then you get the old butterfly effect thing going on with "If France had a more measured military doctrine as opposed to "Hide in our forts, rush into Belgium, and assume the Ardennes forest was impassable", then Germany likely would have better defended their border."
In fairness the Ardennes was impassible to large amounts of heavy artillery, the Germans however obtained total command of the air and used a lot of concentrated bombers to make up for it and quickly cross the Meuse river. Of course France had many other problems in the Belgium plan.
But the point of mentioning that being decisive air power concentrations like that was exactly the kind of thing the French feared if they pushed forward with a part measure. They try to cross a river and the Germans WILL bomb the crossing to ruins ect. That kind of rules out doing anything useful in strategic terms. About the only thing France did have in good supply was artillery spotting planes. French aviation was damn screwed up for political reasons, though a slew of about a half dozen different emergency fighter programs were all on the verge of breaking out mass production by May 1940.
Meanwhile French Army equipment in general was deficient in detail, such as 70% of artillery shells were duds in the 1939 offensive for example, largely because no new fuse had been produced for the heavy calibers since 1919. And the infantry had no mine detector gear, and advanced into the first giant bouncing betty minefield they ever saw. The West Wall had a lot of mines.
A French 1939 would just fail. Poland needed to hold out strongly for some weeks for the Allies to come up with some kind of win plan here, and even if they could do so fully mobilized (which I doubt, also blame the allies for delaying Polish mobilization!) the USSR stab in the back thing rendered any such plan actually hopeless.
"This cult of special forces is as sensible as to form a Royal Corps of Tree Climbers and say that no soldier who does not wear its green hat with a bunch of oak leaves stuck in it should be expected to climb a tree"
— Field Marshal William Slim 1956