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THE BATTLE OF ABBEVILLE

MAY, 28th 1940 - JUNE, 04th 1940

Text extracted from the first show Abbeville la Déchirure of October 2011
All rights of reproduction, in whole or in part, are reserved.
A broadcasting license has been granted to the site Abbeville-passion.fr for the diffusion by the rights holders of the show.

Dunkerque: here is the name of a city associated with a battle forever engraved in history memories and textbooks.
Yet another city has given its name to a battle.
No manual makes reference to it, to believe that it has been erased from the collective memory.
It has not put forward any politician, has given no military hero.
It had the disadvantage of unfolding during another battle and ending in a defeat.
It was the biggest commitment in number of tanks and this until the battle of Russia.
It has killed thousands of fighters on both sides,
But it did take place, not very far from here: it's THE BATTLE OF ABBEVILLE

On 13 May 1940 General GUDERIAN and his tanks crossed the French border at Sedan. The main objective is to reach the sea by Abbeville in order to encircle the French and English troops in the north of France. This is the Faux shot.
The German mechanized infantry continues its advance along the line WEYGAND, that is to say along the Somme.

On May 20, 1940, Abbeville was attacked and around 8 pm the first German soldiers were at ST VALERY and CROTOY.
As the Panzer move on to Calais, the second part of the invading forces is set up.
This is the second Motorized Division.
The cannons of 155 placed themselves in position on the right bank of the Somme.
They are charged with protecting the fragile positions of the German bridgehead which is to be set up on the left bank, that is to say on the Caubert mountains.
Two of these canons will be positioned on the commune of Vauchelles, in the fields on the right, between the motorway and the road of Amiens.

As early as May 21, the first elements of invasion arrived in Huppy.
Around 1 pm a first sidecar looking for French soldiers fled before the advance of the German troops returned to the village.
On 25 May, other soldiers invested in the commune.
Suddenly, on May 27 around 5:00 am, the hell begins to unleash.
The English attack begins and concentrates towards Huppy.
It begins with shots of French and English artillery to protect the attack of English tanks.
Hundreds of shells were fired at the village.
The German guns positioned behind the castle park are targeted.
The principle of the English attack was, however, simple.
It must begin with artillery fire to protect the advance of the tanks.
As the tanks rush on Huppy, they suddenly receive the order to stop for an hour to wait for additional support from the French artillery.
The tanks of the 10th Hussars do not hear this order and it is without any protection that they attack alone.
The result is very heavy, the regiment is decimated.
The attack will resume an hour later.
Thinking only of infantrymen, the English were suddenly taken under the fire of the German anti-tank guns, the Pak 37.
Fully lacking experience, the tanks slow down, even stopping to spot the origin of the shot and be able to aim properly.
They are then literally pierced by the 37 mm caliber punches.
Carelessly piercing the weak armor, they kill many British crews.

The result of the English attack is therefore a failure.
Not exploiting to the maximum the agility and speed abilities of their machines and obedient
Blindly to a too strict military regulation on the use of armored vehicles, the English lose a lot of men and tanks.

On the evening of the battle on May 27, the road leading to Huppy will be nothing but a cemetery of destroyed tank carcasses.
Of the 180 tanks of all types involved in the battle, 120 are lost, 65 are unrecoverable and 55 are considered to be repairable.
Colonel WOLF, who commanded an air defense unit, arrived late in the afternoon of 27 May. Composed of a few 20 mm tubes, its unit is mainly equipped with 88mm guns that wreak havoc among French tanks. There are 12 of them.
The convoy arrives from Hesdin, bypasses Abbeville by the boulevard of the republic and at once reaches Mont Caubert.
Wolf immediately puts his guns into place. In order to be able to identify them more easily during radio exchanges, each one has a name.
"ANTON" and "BERTA" are positioned on Mount Caubert.
"DORA" and "CESAR" are set up in Villers sur Mareuil.
The others are positioned at various points along the battlefield.
Access to Mount Caubert is thus locked.

The firepower of these guns is impressive.
They are able to pierce 6 centimeters of armor at 1500 meters which makes them formidable weapons.
They will wreak havoc among the French tanks, especially on tanks B1 bis.
Some people even go so far as to say that the Germans won the battle of Abbeville thanks to these famous canons.

The day of 28 May 1940 proved to be rich in events.
Soldiers of General Blum's 57th Infantry Division arrive on the Caubert Mountains
Leaving REMAGEN on the Rhine, they rejoin the Somme on foot at the price of forced marches under a crushing heat.
They must as quickly as possible reach the men of the 2nd motorized infantry division. The decision is made to finish the journey by trucks from Albert in order to be as quickly as possible at the scene of the battle. She arrived in the middle of the afternoon at Abbeville.

As soon as they arrived, the German soldiers used the shelters established by their predecessors.
The succession is done quickly: The 57th division does not have to install its material on the place of the battle.
It recovers the transmission equipment already installed and in return it gives its own to the starting division. There is no loss of time in this succession.


The day of 27 May ends with a laconic order broadcast at the end of the English attack:
"The Abbeville bridgehead must be reduced tomorrow."
The order of operation dated May 28 is signed by General De Gaulle at 11:00 the same day.
He then assembled his officers to explain in detail the course of the attack.
The meeting ends at 13:00, the start of operations must start at 17:00.
That leaves little time to prepare men and equipment.


The general order of operation No. 12 details the principles of the operations of the day.
The starting point of the 6th demi-brigade equipped with B1 Bis tanks is from the cemetery of Doudelainville.
They must take the direction of Huppy, then coast 104 after Les Croisettes and finish on the Caubert mountains.
For all other units, the Caubert Mountains are the arrival point behind the B1 Bis.

For the 4th Division of Combat Tank, which has not had time to prepare, it is a question of attacking the 57th Bavarian Division which did not have time to settle down.

HUPPY remains a big bastion to take. The village is surrounded by German anti-tank guns and troops hidden behind the hedges.
De Gaulle then engaged 29 of the 33 B1 Bis tanks of the 6th demi-brigade. Each tank weighs 32 tons and is equipped with two barrels: 1 of 75 mm and a second of 47 mm.
Nearly 1000 tons of steel and 100 cannons are going to mount the village.
The first part of the progression is going well.
The tanks are alone and advance towards the village.
The Germans then unfold their positions by firing with the anti-tank guns of 37 and
75 mm.
The blows carried to the French armored vehicles only ricochet on the armor and do not slow down their advance.
This type of tank is shielded on the front by 6 cm of steel. This gives it a very good protection against German shells, but like any tank, its weak point remains the caterpillars.

The positions of the anti-tanks of the enemy are reduced one by one around the village.
The first wave of assault reached its goal and then continues on to "Les Croisettes"

The second wave of assault, led by the 47th Battalion Battalion, must reduce the German infantry still present in the village.
The latter is still fighting very fiercely and the French infantry can not enter it yet.

While the first wave leaves Huppy in ruins, the first French armored elements continue towards the crossroads of the Croisettes.
Reaching the intersection then makes it possible to continue parallel to the road to get to the next point
The progression must take them to coast 104, practically to the place where today a cross of stone in the area of ​​the Croisettes.

Of the 18 tanks of the first wave at the start of the attack, only eight managed to cross Huppy. Some, affected by caterpillars, are out of use, others have broken down.
.
On the evening of May 28, the French thrust was significant but De Gaulle did not know.
Deprived of means of communication with his advanced elements, he is not aware of the results of the attack.
As early as the 29th, he installed his Command Post in Huppy Castle.
Even today a stele sits at the entrance.

The advance of the tanks is always under a hail of shells.
Some armored vehicles, short of ammunition for their guns have only to rush on the enemy.
They crush the pieces under the weight of the tank.
The German soldiers then have a vision of hell.
They no longer see that the front of this tank arriving on them.
Nothing can stop him.
The little shells of small calibres are only touching it.
The bullets of the machine-guns scarcely scratch the steel.
It's hard not to panic when such a mastodon happens to you.The psychological impact is such on German soldiers that they retreat into the most complete disorientation.
They are completely panicked men who return to Abbeville.
It will take the courage and command capabilities of their leader, General BLUMM to re-motivate the troops and bring them back to fight in the night.
At this precise moment the French were unaware that the front was depressed. A gaping passage is offered to them to return to Abbeville.
Again, deprived of reliable and timely information, the opportunity will not be exploited.
The French tanks then took advantage of the lull to restore the equipment and rest the men.
The Germans, on the other hand, took advantage of the positions they had abandoned, re-inflated and motivated by their leaders.

On May 30, a final offensive was launched.
The Germans who had been demoralized on the previous day had, during the night, strengthened their sites.
The French General Staff did not know that.
The attack launched by the French will fail.

The cannons of 88, once again, fulfill their function with unparalleled zeal. They prevent any advance towards the Caubert mountains.
The battle sinks, and there is no way out.

The situation around Abbeville has been stable since May 30th. The Germans reinforce their positions on the Caubert mountains, the French try to fill the losses, especially in material.
The Allied General Staff decides to attempt an attack again.
It is placed under the orders of General FORTUNE, leader of the 51st Higlands Division.
Colonel PERRE, at the head of the 2nd Reserve Battleship Division, was to attack with his tanks the German positions still on the Caubert Mountains.
He picked up the 4th DCR of General De Gaulle.
PERRE and DE GAULLE are hardly appreciated.
No maintenance takes place between the two men for a passage of deposit.

The principle of the June 4th assault is based on the frontal attack of the Caubert mountains.
At the Croisettes, at 03.30, the first rung of B1 tanks begins its progression towards its objective, protected by the firing of the French artillery

Unable to ride on the road, the crews saw a vegetable barrier in front of them.

The only crossing point is this pasture between the two woods. In accordance with the orders, the tanks of this 1st step, BORDEAUX, NICE, MARECHAL LEFEBVRE and KLEBER will be the first to enter this corridor on this morning of June 4th.
The space between the two woods shrinks dangerously.
The tanks are engaged in this gullet. It is not yet day
Suddenly, while the first tanks are in the middle of the passage, the artillery fire of our artillery stops and is immediately replaced by a fire fueled by machine guns, German anti-tank guns.

Indeed, no reconnaissance of the ground was made before the attack.
Everyone thought that the passage had not changed since the attack of the chariots of De GAULLE.
In the meantime, the Germans have strengthened their positions.
All this the French do not know.

Hell lashes in this gullet.
The tanks advance despite the ricochets that can be heard on the steel. The bullets of the machine-guns lay down at once 25 Scottish infantrymen who thought they were protected by tanks. The shots come from the VILLERS road.
This June 04, the tanks take the same way.
The attack on the Caubert mountains was also to be made by the ravine of BIENFAY.
The crews totally ignore the terrain, accidents are frequent, reducing even more the number of tanks engaged in the battle.

. But two tanks, the MARECHAL LEFEBVRE and the KLEBER manage a feat.
René ROZAN, the pilot's aide of Marshal Lefebvre pulls as soon as he sees the departure of an anti-tank shot. Lucien DEVAUX, the pilot follows in the footsteps of Captain FYSSIAUX aboard the Kleber

At the cost of incredible courage and tenacity, these two tanks managed to cross the enemy fire and achieve their goal.
Mount Caubert is there in front of them. All that remains is to climb the steep fields to arrive at Caesar's camp.

Here, then, is discovered a magnificent view in the dawn that points. It is around 06:15.
ABBEVILLE. The city is there, before their eyes. The mountain is strangely silent.
The German trenches are empty, the wreck of an 88 is there very close to them.
Aboard the tank is waiting.
Lucien DEVAUX comes out and discovers a group of Scottish infantrymen who followed the tank during the attack.
They discuss quietly, without realizing the hell they have just crossed.

These men are the heroes of the battle of Abbeville.

Their tank was destroyed on June 9th in the commune of ST AGNETZ in the OISE.
  • The aspirant of the Soudiere, chief of the chariot, is a man of victorious character, loved and respected by his men.
  • Lucien DEVAUX, the pilot, is a simple man. He spoke of the B1 tank as an easy-to-fly truck. A steering wheel, 3 pedals, 5 speeds. The only downside was the visibility. He had missed his faith in blindé.
  • Roger ROSAN, using driver. "He will give his chariot a panache worthy of mention: As they cross the village of ROIGLISE a few days before, he went to get the tricolor scarf abandoned by the mayor and then tied it around the turret. It is with this proud banner that the tank has stormed,
It is more than a crew that was in this tank, strong ties have welded these men learned: no military authority knew that the French had pierced the German lines and waited almost 3 hours on Mount Caubert before Abbeville.
Privés of information, support by tanks and infantry, they have only To return to their rear.However, in June 1940, they all received a quote from Colonel PERRE for their acts of arms: This June 04, the breakthrough was not able to be exploited by the French .We can learn from this battle the hero behavior . That all soldiers, French as British No one has failed in its tâche.Le word that we can remember is: UNPREPAREDNESS.


Creation date : 26/03/2017 03:23
Category : History -
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