Compiled in part from captured documentaries this film recalls the German invasion of Belgium May 10 1940, which preceded the collapse of France and the British withdrawal from Dunkirk.
Compiled in part from captured documentaries this film recalls the German invasion of Belgium May 10 1940, which preceded the collapse of France and the British withdrawal from Dunkirk. It shows wide-scale bombing, used for the first time in the Low Countries, and mechanised units which were to become the major feature of modern warfare after their use by the Germans in this campaign.
Nazi troops invaded Belgium, Holland and Luxembourg simultaneously, relying on the same tactics - armoured Panzers supported by motorized infantry, paratroops, glider-borne infantry and the assistance of sympathisers to dislocate Belgian efforts.
In Belgium, the story of devastation repeated itself. To the memories of wanton destruction of Louvain and Malines in World War One were added new incidents as frightful. Refugees - fleeing along the roads with their pitiful belongings, salvaged from devastated villages and towns - made all to easy prey for dive-bombers. As the Germans advanced, driving all before them, Allied forces moving north to counter-attack hampered by terrorized masses moving southwards.
The Allied advance, though pre-prepared, was badly conceived. Forces were committed piecemeal without adequate reserves. By May 17th the Germans were in Brussels, and the Belgian Government had withdrawn to the port of Ostead. The position seemed very critical but not hopeless; if a semblance of order was maintained it should be possible to establish a new line along one of the rivers that had seen fighting in 1914-1918, the Somme or Marne. But disaster struck. The French Ninth Army had been withdrawn from a vital hinge position between the impenetrable Maginot Line and main Belgian forces, to bolster the Northern front. It was expected that a crack Belgian corps would suffice to mask Nazi probes in this region: however, the Germans found the weak link and hurled in masses of troops near Sedan. They had broken into France, and the gap could not be plugged. When the Germans reached the English Channel near Abbeville one million Allied troops were trapped in the Belgian pocket. On May 28 King Leopold of the Belgians ordered his troops to capitulate. By June 1 the Dunkirk beaches had been cleared. On June 22 France accepted German surrender terms. Free Belgians, Dutch and French would continue the fight, but their homelands were enslaved.