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France Cannot Die!

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France Cannot Die!
M Reynaud, the French premier and defence Minister, in his historic statement on the war situation to the Senate on 21 May 1940, declared.

The country is in danger. My first duty is to tell the truth to the Senate and the country.
Holland Belgium and Luxembourg, having being invaded, the left wing of the French army advanced from the fortifications between Sedan and the sea, and pivoting on Sedan, entered Belgium on a line running from Sedan to Antwerp and even to Bois-le-Duc in Holland.

What did the enemy do in the face of this situation, which he had foreseen and taken into account ? He launched a formidable attack on the crest of the French army established behind the Meuse, between Sedan and Namur.
The Meuse, apparently a difficult river to cross, had been wrongly considered as a redoubtable obstacle for the enemy. That is the reason why the French divisions, which were entrusted with its defence were few and were spread out over a great area along the river. In addition, the army of General Corap, which was composed of divisions not so well officered and less well trained, was put there, the best troops forming part of the left wing, marching into Belgium.

That was not all. As a result of incredible mistakes, which will be punished, the bridges over the Meuse were not destroyed. Over these bridges, there passed, the German armoured divisions, proceeded by fighter planes, which came to attack divisions which were scattered. ill-cadred and badly trained for such attacks. It was thus that the hinge of the French army was broken.
A breach of about 100 km (60 miles) wide, had been opened in our front. Into this breach poured a German army composed of motorised divisions, which after having caused a large bulge in the direction of Paris, turned west, towards the sea, taking in the rear of our entire fortified system, along the Franco Belgian frontier and threatening the Allied forces still engaged in Belgium, to whom the order to retreat was not given until the evening of 15 May 1940

The day before yesterday (19 May) an armored division reached the line Quesnoy-Cambria-Peronne and the Somme, as far as the Ham. For the past 48 hours, the German advance has been going on. At eight o'clock this morning, the high command in for me that Arras and Amiens had been occupied.

How do we get to this point ? Is the moral value of our army in doubt ? Not at all. The fighting which took place in Belgium during the first days proved it. The truth is our classic conception of the conduct of war has come up against a new conception.

At the basis of this conception there is not only the massive use of heavy armoured divisions or co-operation between them and aeroplanes, but the creation of disorder in the enemies rear by means of parachute raids, which, in Holland, nearly caused the fall of the Hague, and in, Belgium, seized the strongest fort of Liege.
General Weygand took command yesterday. He is today on the battlefield. The conduct of military operations falls to him alone. The government has already taken decisions. You know. Its first actions. No failure will be tolerated. Death is a very mild punishment for any offence against the vital interests of the country. At a time when our soldiers are dying, there will be no more dilatory procedure with regard to traitors, saboteurs or cowards. There is no longer a place for any vested interests.

Our airmen are covering themselves with glory, and let me hear Frank, the admirable. Royal air force for the total help which it is giving to France, both by its action on the field of battle, and against the sources of the enemy's supplies. These two great peoples, these two empires, united as one cannot be beaten. France cannot die. As for me, if I were told tomorrow that only a miracle could save France, I should reply. I believe in miracles, because I believe in France.

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Sources

The Second Great War.
Edited by Sir John Hamilton

The War Illustrated.
Edited by Sir John Hamilton

2194 Days Of War.
ISBN-10: 086136614X

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