They managed to eliminate the anti-tank lines and entrenched French infantry. Seeing no alternative, Napoleon ordered a white flag raised early in the afternoon. Falling back on the fortress city of Sedan, the French were pinned in place by Field Marshal Helmuth von Moltke's Prussians and then encircled. By eliminating the bunkers in the Bellevue sector, they made the breakthroughs of the 1st and 2nd Panzer Divisions possible and this was achieved without loss. Everything depended on the support of the Luftwaffe.  The 10th Panzer Division, under the command of Generalleutnant Ferdinand Schaal, had 44 Panzer I, 113 Panzer II, 58 Panzer III, 32 Panzer IV and 18 Sd.Kfz. Its location guarded the bridgehead, making it dangerous for German infantry attempting a crossing. The French 2nd Army was responsible for the last 100 kilometres (62 mi) of front, covering Sedan, the lower Meuse, the Belgian–Luxembourg border and the northern flank of the Maginot line. , To relieve the 55th Infantry Division, the French 71st Infantry Division was ordered out of reserve and into the frontline. You are not permitted to copy any image, text or info from this page. Reconnaissance found an enemy Bunker, No.  Yet it was not until 17 hours after the original order to advance to Bulson that the lead French tanks reached the Bulson ridge. By 12 May, units of the German Army Group B were closing on Rotterdam and Amsterdam, while in central Belgium the Germans were close to reaching the Dyle river east of Brussels. The remainder of the army was captured following its surrender.  On 11 April 1940, General Charles Huntziger asked for another four divisions to work on the defences but was refused. Fliegerkorps (under Bruno Loerzer), V. Fliegerkorps (under Robert Ritter von Greim), and VIII. The division's commanding officer, General Lafontaine, put more faith into fortifications than training, as he believed it would compensate for the weakness of the division. The nine Kampfgruppen (bomber wings) of II.  But the initial clash was not in the Germans' favour. As the French pressed forward, the weak German defence struggled to hold its ground. $15.18 Buy It Now 25d 20h. The Division also had to advance down to the river on open flat terrain of some 600–800 metres (2,000–2,600 ft).  General Marcel Têtu, commander of the Allied Tactical Air Forces ordered: "Concentrate everything on Sedan. The Luftwaffe was going to have to do most of the work. 71 Wing RAF lost 10 Fairey Battles and five Bristol Blenheims. The results were much the same. The attacks isolated the forward defence lines.  Poncelet killed himself a few days later. , The Luftwaffe's target was the Marfee heights which lay behind Sedan to the south east. , By nightfall on 12 May, Guderian's XIX. One of the premier infantry regiments, the 213th Infantry Regiment, was removed from the line altogether and was replaced with the 331st Regiment.  Although the two divisions had 174 artillery pieces, more than the German forces opposing them, they had to share that force between them. After preparatory raids, the medium and dive-bombers were to smash the French defences in a concentrated blow lasting 20 minutes. Seeing no reason to continue the slaughter, he opened surrender talks with the Prussians. They had almost no Regular officers and they had not been broken-in to war conditions by being in contact with the enemy. On the southern face of Bulson, Kirchner, commander of the 1st Panzer Division, suffered several tactical reverses and saw the 37 mm shells from his 3.7 cm PaK 36 anti-tank guns and Panzer IIIs bounce off the more heavily armoured French tanks. Franco Prussian War Scout Paris Hot Air Balloon 1870 antique wood engraved print. 265. Map of the Battle of Sedan, 10 A.M., September 1, 1870. He has appeared on The History Channel as a featured expert. Add to Cart. Crossing at the extreme western end of the Sedan sector on the Donchery axis, it was forced to advance across open terrain for the last 3 km before reaching the bridgehead. The French had long believed that the German Army would not attack through the Sedan sector as part of their concentrated effort, and only Brigadier General Pierre Lafontaine's French 55th Infantry Division, a category B division, was allocated to this sec… By this time, the French 7th Tank Battalion had been wiped out and the 213th Infantry Regiment had been devastated. Now that they were pushing largely at an 'open door', the 1st and 2nd Panzer Divisions advanced into the undefended French rear with speed. Sedan was a centre of cloth production, which was started under Cardinal Mazarin. The Germans achieved the Meuse crossing after just 57 hours. , The French Army authorised fresh attempts to increase the strength of the fortifications in the autumn of 1939, but severe winter weather prevented the pouring of concrete and the delivery of the necessary materials. On 20 May, five days after consolidating their bridgeheads, the German Army reached the Channel. , The 10th Panzer Division, like the 2nd Panzer Division, had detached its heavy artillery batteries to support neighbouring units. By 9:00 AM, fighting was raging all along the Givonne from Bazeilles north. Two days after the battle, leaders in Paris formed the Third Republic and sought to continue the conflict. Map of the Western Front 1918 - Five German Offensives. Remembering the Chief of Operations, 1st Panzer Division, Walther Wenck's saying, "Hit with your fists, don't feel with your fingers! However, after the war, it was discovered that none of the bunkers had been destroyed by direct hits. Franco-Prussian War: Field Marshal Helmuth von Moltke the Elder, American Civil War: Major General George H. Thomas, The Battle of Passchendaele - World War I, Industry and Agriculture History in Europe, M.S., Information and Library Science, Drexel University, B.A., History and Political Science, Pennsylvania State University. This would increase the density of fighting strength in the immediate area, but such a move was only partially complete by 10 May, as it was scheduled to be completed on 13–14 May, three days after the German attack. Plagued by poor weather and roads, the Army of Châlons exhausted itself during the march. By that time, elements of the 1st and 2nd Panzer Divisions had negotiated the Meuse river. $139.36 USD $163.95 USD. The Battle of Sedan or Second Battle of Sedan (12–15 May 1940) took place in the Second World War during the Battle of France in 1940. Storming forward, the French nearly overwhelmed the enemy before being turned back. Having silenced the French guns with fire from 71 batteries, they easily turned back a French cavalry assault led by General Jean-Auguste Margueritte. The French had already initiated plans for counter-attacks with armour on the German-held bridgehead during the night but delays in bringing up forces, procrastination, and hesitation on the part of local overall French command at large, made worse by mistaken intelligence reports and by the resulting confusion from the panic and retreat of the infantry who had also abandoned their positions and artillery as part of the "panic of Bulson", made an attack possible only in the morning of 14 May. Backed by nearly 100 guns, Saxon, Bavarian, and Prussian troops shattered the French advance with a massive bombardment and heavy rifle fire. The 147th Fortress Regiment was the backbone of the 55th Infantry Division and was to occupy the bunker positions on the Meuse.  He could also call upon 1,470 aircraft. But by 11:00, Prussian artillery took a toll on the French while more Prussian troops arrived on the battlefield.  Military historians agree that the Battle at Sedan sealed the fate of Belgium and France. , The 55th Infantry Division guarding Sedan had little time for combat training, as its time had been spent in construction work. By midday, the Prussians had completed their encirclement of the French and had effectively won the battle. At Bazeilles, the French were finally overcome and forced to cede the village. Alone, the tanks tried to attack and failed. Moltke was stunned to learn that he had captured the French leader, as were King Wilhelm I and Chancellor Otto von Bismarck, who were at headquarters.  The Luftwaffe was to commit I. Fliegerkorps (1st Air Corps under Ulrich Grauert), II. Their analysis concluded that what appeared to be strong fortified positions were just the construction sites of half-built bunkers that were, to all intents and purposes, empty shells. Click map for larger image . Crossing the Meuse around 7:30 AM, they pushed north. Due to a combination of its being late and the attacks of its sister units, the enemy defences were alerted in advance of the 2nd Panzer's offensive. The attacks were made in Gruppe (group) strength and against the line of maximum resistance along the enemy gun line. Joined by VII Saxon Corps which pressed towards the village of La Moncelle to the north along Givonne creek, the Bavarians fought through the early morning hours. The Großdeutschland Infantry Regiment's late arrival tilted the scales. After talking about the key stages of the Battle of Sedan we will take a closer look at some of the German key crossing points over the river Meuse, highlighting a suicidal mission executed by eleven German assault pioneers – one that proved to be decisive for the further successful progress of the campaign. Moreover, its main armament, one 47 mm and one 75 mm gun, outmatched all the German tanks. 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