Case Red: The Collapse of France

Published: December 30th, 2017     
Product Image
Author: Robert Forczyk
Reviewed by: 
Frank Landrus, IPMS# 35035
Company: Osprey Publishing
ISBN #: 978-1-4728-2442-4
E-Book ISBN #: 9781472824431
Other Publication Information: Soft Bound ; 6.5” x 9.6”, 496 pages
Price: $30.00
Product / Stock #: GNM

Dr. Robert Forczyk is a prolific author with over 27 books published by Osprey and Pen & Sword. He graduated from Notre Dame, the University of Virginia, and the University of Maryland with a PhD PhD in International Relations and National Security. Robert was commissioned from ROTC in 1983 and ended up going to Fort Knox to become an armor officer. He trained in the both the M60A3 and the M-1 but spent his 18 year career in the M60A3 with the US 2nd, 4th, and the 29th Infantry Divisions. Dr. Forcyzk is currently living in the Laurel, Maryland and works as a management consultant at Aviation ISAC. Catch him on LinkedIn.

There are 464 pages of text and two sets of 16 glossy pages containing 60 black and white photographs. There are also ten maps with notes to depict the engagement's progression.

Dr. Robert Forczyk provides a new perspective of the last three weeks of France in World War II, starting after the evacuation of Dunkirk. Most of the previous tomes have addressed the fall of France, with a sole focus on Case Yellow (Fall Gelb), and very little has addressed Case Red (Fall Rot). Case Red reviews the history of some largely overlooked decisions, the Brits were still fighting the Germans alongside the French army after Dunkirk. Robert has studied previous histories of the fall of the Third Republic of France and has noted several inconsistencies. To address those he has proposed four hypothesis:

  1. Two major factors in the French defeat in 1940 was the lack of air support for the army and the lack of sufficient tactical firepower in the form of anti-tank and anti-aircraft weapons.
  2. The excessive reliance on allied resources to defend France rather than being self-sufficient.
  3. France's obsession that it was a major world power rather on preparing to defend themselves against their primary adversary; Germany.
  4. The British failure to fully invest in the defense of France as they refused to commit their Spitfires to the battle.

Dr. Robert Forczyk does dive into Case Yellow, the campaign leading up to the fall of Dunkirk to provide a background to what follows. He details Case Red and the impact it had on Allied relationships. Robert addresses popular perceptions and provides evidence to support a new view of the political drama from Britain to Russia. There is certainly plenty of blame to go around, but Robert does examine many of those that have typically shouldered the blame and often finds that there are plenty of others to share the mantle. He may go light in some areas, for example the Maginot Line, since it did achieve its primary purpose in deterring Germany. The chapters include:

  • Introduction
  • Chapter 1: The Path to Disaster, 1918-39
    • Strategic Context, June 1919
    • Cordon Sanitaire, 1920-36
    • The Cost of Empire, 1920-36
    • French Modernization Efforts, 1920-36
    • British Modernization Efforts, 1920-36
    • German Modernization Efforts, 1920-39
    • The Last-Minute Scramble, 1937-39
  • Chapter 2: A Shadow of Doubt
    • Opening Rounds, September 1939
    • Planning the Next Move, October 1939 - April 1940
    • The Clock Winds Down, 9/10 May 1940
  • Chapter 3: The Centre Cannot Hold
    • The First 90 Hours, 10 - 13 May 1940
    • The Breakout Battles, 14 -15 May 1940
  • Chapter 4: To the Sea
    • The German Advance to the English Channel, 16 - 25 May
    • Mopping Up, 26 May - 4 June
    • All Quiet on the Somme, 21 - 26 May
    • Councils of War, 25 - 31 May
  • Chapter 5: Failure at Abbeville
  • Chapter 6: The Weygand Line
    • The Luftwaffe Strikes, 1 - 3 June
    • Calm Before the Storm, 4 June
    • Bock Makes the First Move, 5 June
    • Fight Without a Spirit of Retreat, 6 June
    • Hoth's Breakthrough, 7 June
    • Belated Withdrawal, 8 June
    • Rouen Falls and the End of the 9e Corps, 9 - 12 June
  • Chapter 7: Decision on the Aisne
    • Paris will be Defended to the Last, 9 - 11 June, 1940
    • Rundstedt Strikes, 9 - 10 June
    • The Retreat, 10 - 11 June
    • The Contentious Allied Meeting in Briare, 11 June
  • Chapter 8: Disintegration
    • The Fall of Paris, 12 - 14 June, 1940
    • The Second BEF Arrives...and Leaves, 12 - 18 June, 1940
    • Return to the Loire, 15 - 17 June
    • The Choice, 15 - 19 June
    • Heeresgruppe C Attacks, 14 - 21 June
  • Chapter 9: Mussolini's Gamble
    • The War in the South, 10 - 21 June
    • Final Actions, 18 - 24 June
  • Chapter 10: Occupation
    • The Bitter Taste of Armistice
    • The Thrill of Victory
    • Operational Outcomes
    • Case Red in Perspective
  • Glossary
  • Appendices
    • Appendix A: Allied Order of Battle, 5 June 1940
    • Appendix B: German Order of Battle, 5 June 1940
  • Endnotes
  • Bibliography
  • Index

I learned and re-visited concepts all but forgotten from this book. The author notes in the Introduction that the German and French armies were really not that different. I was surprised to see the notes regarding the deaths that the German Army endured during the Phony War. The Germans suffered just under 10,000 non-battle deaths while the French suffered 12,623 non-battle deaths. Although the French army did not detail all the causes, the German army had 777 soldiers commit suicide and over 600 desertions. I simply was amazed at those non-battle numbers from just a short period of time where nothing really was going on and morale would be higher. Bravery from the French regular army was not a question, they proved that over and over again in battle. French battle doctrine was also not an issue, the crisis was that the French army leadership did not follow their own battle doctrine.

Dr. Robert Forczyk provides a good analysis and story on the Fall of France with an easy to read style. I especially appreciated his use of first person accounts throughout the book as it puts the reader in the driver's seat. I found this a quite thorough treatise as he started with commonly held perceptions and explored the truth behind them. Starting with his hypotheses, Robert leads the reader through Case Red with perspectives from all sides. It is often said that those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it again and again. I found many lessons from Case Red that could easily be applied to our current world issues. Hopefully true leaders will have a chance to read this work.

My thanks to Osprey Publishing and IPMS/USA for the chance to review this great book.

Highly recommended!

  • Front Cover
    Front Cover
  • Back Cover
    Back Cover
  • Sample Page
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