France Cannot Die!
M Reynaud, the French premier and defence Minister, in his
historic statement on the war situation to the Senate on 21
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
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
The day before yesterday (19
) 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
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
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
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.
The Second Great War.
Edited by Sir John Hamilton
The War Illustrated.
Edited by Sir John Hamilton
2194 Days Of War.
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