Breakthrough on the Meuse River 1940


Map Code: Ax00275

The crossing of the River Meuse was essential for the German advance into France. To capture Sedan, a strategic attack from the 10th, 2nd and 1st Panzer Divisions was planned, with intense support from the Luftwaffe. On 12 May, the city was secured; the following day the three key Panzer Divisions began assaults at Wadelincourt, Donchery and the Gaulier bridgehead. The attack was not trouble-free, yet an ineffective and indecisive French counterattack strategy greatly assisted the Germans. Much of the disorganized, disillusioned and unsuitably armed French 55th Infantry Division guarding Sedan had deserted their positions in the ‘panic of Bulson’ after earlier incorrect reports that German tanks were approaching. Similarly, poorly coordinated Allied air strikes targeting the huge bridgeheads in an attempt to isolate the Panzer Divisions were no match for the Luftwaffe. The Germans therefore easily overcame their setbacks and powered on and, by 14 May, all three panzer divisions had crossed the Meuse and were advancing on towards the Channel.

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