History of the Second World War: United Kingdom Military Series

Edited by J. R. M. Butler

The War in France and Flanders, 1939–1940

By Major L. F. Ellis CVO, CBE, DSO, MC



Her Majesty’s Stationery Office

Crown Copyright Reserved

Table of Contents

Editor’s Preface

Author’s Preface

Chapter 1: Pre-War Policies and Plans

Chapter 2: The First Winter, 3rd September, 1939–9th May, 1940

Chapter 3: Advance into Belgium, 20th–15th May, 1940

Chapter 4: Withdrawal to the Escaut, 16th–19th May, 1940

Chapter 5: Isolation of the Northern Armies, 20th May, 1940

Chapter 6: The Counter-Attack at Arras, 21st May, 1940

Chapter 7: High Level Moves, 20th–22nd May, 1940

Chapter 8: The Canal Line, 23rd May, 1940

Chapter 9: Fighting on Two Fronts, 24th–25th May, 1940

Chapter 10: Defence of the Channel Ports, 22nd–26th May, 1940

Chapter 11: The Decision to Evacuate, 26th May, 1940

Chapter 12: Dunkirk, Bethune and Ypres, 27th May, 1940

Chapter 13: After the Belgian Surrender, 28th May, 1940

Chapter 14: The Final Withdrawal, 29th May, 1940

Chapter 15: The Defence of the Bridgehead, 30th–31st May, 1940

Chapter 16: Last Days at Dunkirk, 1st–4th June, 1940

Chapter 17: From the Saar to the Somme, 10th–25th May, 1940

Chapter 18: The Fight for the Somme Crossings, 26th May–4th June, 1940

Chapter 19: The New German Offensive, 5th–8th June, 1940

Chapter 20: From the Bresle to St Valery, 9th–12th June, 1940

Chapter 21: The Final Phase, 12th–18th June, 1940

Chapter 22: Review of Air Operations

Chapter 23: Conduct and Consequences of the Campaign

Supplement: The Planning and Conduct of the German Campaign

Appendix A: British Forces Engaged

Appendix B: French and German texts quoted in translation

Appendix C: German Forces Engaged



General the Viscount Gort—General Georges—General Gamelin—Air Marshal A. S. Barratt—The Dyle and the Dendre—The Escaut and the Canal Line—General Weygand—Vice-Admiral Sir Bertram H. Ramsay—Dunkirk: The Outer Harbour—St Valery-en-Caux—Colonel-Generals von Brauchitsch, von Bock and von Rundstedt


General—The Canal Line and Ypres Front—Boulogne—Calais—Amiens to Havre—From the Somme to the Bresle

Situation Maps

British dispositions 9th May, 1940—German Advance to the Sea 20th May, 1940—Counter-attack at Arras 21st May, 1940—Situation immediately before evacuation of Arras on night of 23rd May, 1940—Situation on the evening of 26th May, 1940—Situation on the evening of 27th May, 1940—The Withdrawal to the Coast—Situation on the evening of 28th May, 1940—Situation on the evening of 29th May, 1940—Situation on the evening of 30th May, 1940—Situation on the evening of 1st June, 1940—Amiens to Havre—Situation on the evening of 8th June, 1940—Amiens to Havre—Situation on the evening of 10th June, 1940—German Situation Map—24th May, 1940

Sketch Maps Included In Text

Ports, Routes and Lines of Communications—Frontier Defences and the Dyle Line—Maastricht—German Dispositions on 10th May, 1940—Dyle Front—British Dispositions on 15th May, 1940 (diagram)—Dispositions of BEF on 15th May, 1940, at noon—Escaut Front—British Artillery Dispositions, 21st May, 1940 (diagram)—Escaut Front—British Infantry Dispositions, 21st May, 1940 (diagram)—Locations of Back Component and Advanced Air Striking Force, 24th May, 1940—The Escaut, Frontier, Lys and Yser Lines—The Escaut and Frontier Lines—Sea Routes from Dunkirk—Dunkirk Harbour—Saar Front, British sector, May, 1940—Europe in 1939 and 1940—Evolution of Plan Yellow—three versions—Forward German Divisions disposed for attack on 10th May, 1940