A Radio announcer: "This is the BBC home service.
The German army invaded Belgium and Holland early this morning
by land and landing from parachutes. The armies of the low countries
are resisting. Their appeals for help have been to the Allied
governments and Allied troops are moving to their support."
When Hitler invaded Poland the Allied forces
were mobilized. The British Expeditionary Force joined its French
Allies and positioned themselves along the border of France and
Belgium. The tactic was to advance into Belgium once the Germans
made their move west. The battleground for European armies over
the centuries would once again feel the effects of war.
From September 1939, until May 1940, the Allies
sat it out facing their foes without much effective action, which
was known as The Phoney Offensive. The British dug trenches and
the French sat behind its impressive defences, the Maginot Line.
For the Germans they were not ready to face the British and French
armies in the west, in fact a concentrated Allied attack on German
positions could have prevented World War Two from progressing
any further. But thoughts were more in line with fighting a 'Distant
War', and the French were determined not to fight on French soil.
In fact it was considered any serious offensive
against the Germans might ignite the conflict in western Europe.
This was to be avoided until the Allies could muster a force that
could totally overwhelm its Nazi opposition, but the Allies would
not be ready for such an offensive until 1941. The Allies indecision
to act would cost them dear.
The French had divided its force along its eastern
border from Switzerland to the English Channel to front any Nazi
invasion. Its border was strongly defended apart from the area
of the Ardennes, which was considered impassable by an army. The
French had even ignored intelligence reports that over 50 German
divisions had massed near the Ardennes.
On 10th May, 1940, Hitler invaded the low countries
with their 'Blitzkrieg' tactics and overran these unprepared territories
quickly. The Allies made their move and advanced forward into
Belgium to block the Nazi advance, at the same time moving straight
into the trap Hitler had set for them.
Penetration through the Ardennes was an important
part of Hitler's trap, and as the Allies moved forward to greet
the Nazi threat in Belgium, the Nazis swept through in the south
with little opposition. By the time all was revealed, all was
lost. German advances via the Ardennes had caused panic in Paris
as it was generally thought Hitler might head straight towards
the French capital. But Hitler had other ideas. After breaking
through the Ardennes the German army swept north and headed towards
the coast to spring the trap.
The Allies had been outmanoeuvred by the Germans,
they executed their plan with great speed, and now the Allied
armies faced a disastrous situation contrived by Hitler, of being
trapped by a surrounding Nazi force on mainland Europe.