Order of battle for the Battle of France

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

The order of battle for the Battle of France details the hierarchy of the major combatant forces in the Battle of France in May 1940.

Comparative ranks[edit]

French British German
Général d'armée General Generaloberst
Général de corps d'armée Lieutenant-General General der Infanterie/Kavallerie/Artillerie/Pioniere (branch specific)
Général de division Major-General Generalleutnant
Général de brigade Brigadier Generalmajor (lowest German general rank)
Colonel Colonel Oberst


The bulk of the forces of the Allies were French, although the United Kingdom (British Expeditionary Force), Netherlands, and Belgium had significant forces in the battle opposing Germany. Supreme Command was held by the French Commander-in-Chief Général d'armée Maurice Gamelin, his deputy Général d'armée Alphonse Joseph Georges was appointed Commander of the North Western Front.

French First Army Group[edit]

The First Army Group guarded the north-east frontier of France, ready to move into Belgium and the Netherlands to oppose any German invasion of those nations. The First controlled four French armies as well as the Belgian Army and the British Expeditionary Force. Général d'armée Gaston Billotte was Commander-in-Chief until his death in a car crash on 23 May 1940, Général d'armée Georges Maurice Jean Blanchard was appointed to succeed him.

Belgian Army[edit]

The Belgian Army field approximately 600,000 personnel in 22 divisions, backed by 1,338 artillery pieces, 10 tanks and 240 other combat vehicles. King Leopold III of Belgium had assumed personal command of the army upon mobilization. His principal military advisor was Lieutenant-general Raoul van Overstraeten, while General-major Oscar Michiels was Chief of the General Staff.

French Second Army Group[edit]

The French 2nd Army Group was responsible for manning the bulk of the Maginot Line from Montmédy to south of Strasbourg, and controlled three armies. General de Armee Andre-Gaston Pretelat was Commander-in-Chief of the army group throughout its existence.

French Third Army Group[edit]

The 3rd Army Group was responsible for manning the southern end of the Maginot Line, along the River Rhine and controlled one army. The army group's Commander-in-Chief was Général d'Armée Antoine-Marie-Benoit Besson.

Royal Netherlands Army[edit]

The Netherlands had four corps, one motorized division and a defense division deployed to begin the battle. Total strength was 240,000 personnel, equipped with 676 artillery pieces and 32 armoured cars. Generaal Henri Winkelman was Supreme Commander of the Royal Netherlands Army and Navy.

French army facing Italy[edit]

14th Army Corps 15th Army Corps

    • Fortification sectors: Dauphiné, Savoie, Alpes Maritimes
    • Defence sectors: Rhône, Nice

Originally the French Sixth Army, the Army of the Alps was responsible for manning the southeast frontier with Italy. Overall, French forces in the region numbered about 35,000 soldiers.

French reserves[edit]

The French began the battle with three reserve corps positioned behind the army groups. The VII and XXIII Corps were stationed behind the 2nd and 3rd Army Groups.

The following divisions were also kept in reserve:

British Expeditionary Force[edit]


The commander-in-chief of the Oberkommando des Heeres (OKH) was Generaloberst Walter von Brauchitsch. Initially the Axis forces consisted of the forces of the German army. They were joined in the conflict by the Italian army on 10 June.

OKH Reserve[edit]

German Army Group A[edit]

Commanded by Generaloberst Gerd von Rundstedt (Chief of Staff: Generalleutnant Georg von Sodenstern)

German Army Group B[edit]

Commanded by Generaloberst Fedor von Bock (Chief of Staff: Generalleutnant Hans von Salmuth)

German Army Group C[edit]

Commanded by Generaloberst Wilhelm Ritter von Leeb

Italian Army Group "West"[edit]

Commanded by Prince General Umberto di Savoia

Overall, the Italian forces numbered about 312,000 troops. However they had inadequate artillery and transport and most were not equipped for the cold Alpine environment.



  1. ^ a b c d http://www.diedeutschewehrmacht.de
  2. ^ "Welcome [War over Holland - May 1940: the Dutch struggle]". www.waroverholland.nl. Retrieved 2021-05-21.
  3. ^ "Welcome [War over Holland - May 1940: the Dutch struggle]". www.waroverholland.nl. Retrieved 2021-05-21.
  4. ^ Waffen Ss Divisions 1939-45. Chris Bishop. Gardners Books. 2007. ISBN 978-1-86227-432-7. OCLC 212835583.CS1 maint: others (link)