Battle Of France: History, Dates, Summary, And Facts For Kids

Shirin Biswas
Feb 29, 2024 By Shirin Biswas
Originally Published on Nov 17, 2021
Edited by Monisha Kochhar
Fact-checked by Niyati Parab
Read about the Battle of France to know about the historic conquest of France by the German army during the Second World War.
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Age: 3-18
Read time: 7.0 Min

The precursor to the Battle of France was the Phony War that broke out after the German invasion of Poland.

The British, French, and Czech were particularly unhappy with the Polish invasion and hence entered a phony war. However, it was Adolf Hitler and his army that put an end to it by conquering more land.

The surrender of France and the fact that it took the Germans less than six weeks to achieve such a feat is something that will remain in history books for a long time to come. France fell mainly because the German army not only took a route that the allies least expected them to take but also distracted them and removed them from France. Keep reading to know about Adolf Hitler's method, through which he took down France and neighboring countries.

If you enjoy reading this article, why not also check out Battle of Gallipolli and Battle of Chancellorsville here at Kidadl!

Battle Of France Timeline

The battle of France was a rather short-lived one. The reason behind the battle being so short-lived is understood to be the fact that the German forces used their extraordinary tactics in a way that the allied forces least expected.

The precursor to this battle is understood to be the German invasion of Poland in 1939. This resulted in a period known as the 'Phony War' between the allied forces and Germany. The Second World War was an attempt made by Nazi Germany to achieve control over all of Europe - especially the ports that were beneficial in terms of commerce and trade. The German invasion did spark a troublesome situation but neither forces were ready to take action. It was only in May 1940 when the German advance towards France took place. The German troops planned their attack in such a way that the British and French troops were left confused as to which front they should be saving.

Within a very small period of just six weeks, the German army was able to defeat the allied troops and gain control over Belgium, Norway, the Netherlands, and France. The fall of the allied forces right at the beginning of the Second World War also led to a number of other actions all around the world. There were resignations, desperate attempts at salvaging the situation, evacuations, and numerous other events.

However, when talking about the Battle of France, there are a number of dates that historians lay particular emphasis on. The German offensive strategies were put to action on May 10, 1940. Although the allied British forces did anticipate that a German invasion would be on the way, they did not realize that the Germans were planning to start their operations at a place that they least expected. Even though the British troops were commanded to start mining in Norwegian lands, their efforts were too late. The Germans had already set their plans in motion and were about to start their conquest through Norway. Although Norway was supposed to be neutral in the war, there was a Norwegian fascist who had basically even asked Hitler to occupy the land. The German plans succeeded in Norway and then continued to fall in place all throughout the conquest. The fall of Netherlands and Belgium followed shortly afterward, in spite of the efforts made by the allied soldiers. However, the attack on Belgium and the Netherlands was a way of distracting the French command.

By June 10, 1940, even the Italian army had launched its attack on France and Britain. This made the French border weaker and led to the speedy fall of the French government. France eventually asked for an armistice on June 17, and by June 21, Germans had complete surrender from the French forces on their hands. This German attack remains to be one of the singularly significant ones in the history of the world since the French forces were in no way weaker. Most members of the French army and even present-day historians tend to say that the battle was lost merely due to the fact that the army was ill-prepared.

The Battle of France casualties exceeded hundreds of thousands on just the side of the allied forces.

Battle Of France Summary

The Battle of France is a significant part of the Second World War since it involves the fall of France.

The French army, at that point in history, was very well equipped and had the ability to defeat any army if they were prepared. The fact that they were helped by the British Expeditionary Force also forms a huge part of the confidence that the French generals had in themselves. In fact, the German attack was estimated to be useless by many of Adolf Hitler's own men since the French soldiers were very equipped in terms of artillery and firepower. The German commanders believed that the Maginot Line would be the most difficult to get through since the most amount of troops had been deployed there by the allies. Hence, the fact that the German forces were able to break through the Maginot line through their pincer approach was a major breakthrough and a major win.

The German chief, Adolf Hitler, made use of a method known as the pincer maneuver. Through this method, the German forces were able to disguise themselves and distract the troops of the allies to the other part of the land, Belgium, while they launched a severe attack on France and conquered Paris. The first hand of the pincer went through Belgium and the Netherlands, as the German tanks pierced through the land. Once this attack was put into motion, the allied forces were forced to deploy their men towards Belgium in order to make sure that the German troops did not succeed in their mission. As soon as the British and French army moved to the Northern end, German army groups began to make their way through Ardennes. Since Ardennes was believed to be such a difficult, dense forest to get through, the brains behind the Second World War had assumed that Hitler wouldn't take that route. With the French army deployed elsewhere, the German army was able to make its way through the land in a matter of days and had a couple of easy wins at Sedan and Abbeville. The conquest of Northern France was also made easy since there was little to no resistance. The Maginot Line was also demolished eventually through vigorous attacks.

Battle Of France Facts

The Battle of France map shows us how the infantry divisions and the German aircraft were able to take down one of the most capable lines in the history of warfare. A German aircraft was in fact able to sink a ship having many soldiers of the allied forces, which gives us a rough idea about the casualties of the battle.

The 'Phony War' or what we would call 'cold war' was an instigation for the German force to plan their attack at a time when the British high command was doing 'too little, too late' in the words of some British intellectuals of the era.

The only way for the members of the allied forces to escape was through the ports at places such as Dunkirk, Calais, Boulogne, and Ostend. Since Dunkirk was the most viable option, the people chose it. However, the evacuation efforts were also met with a lot of resistance and subsequent bloodshed. Around 16000 members of the French army and 1000 members of the British army lost their lives during the evacuation at Dunkirk.

Paris was eventually declared a free land so that the Germans did not destroy the historic state in an effort to subjugate the French government.

Battle Of France Significance

The Battle of France marks a significant conquest of the Germans on the North-Western parts of Europe. Through this battle, the Germans were able to establish their foothold - not only in France but in other countries such as Luxemburg, Belgium, and the Netherlands.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family-friendly facts for everyone to enjoy! If you liked our suggestions for facts about the Battle of France then why not take a look at the Battle of Jutland, or Battle of Kursk?

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Written by Shirin Biswas

Bachelor of Arts specializing in English Language and Literature

Shirin Biswas picture

Shirin BiswasBachelor of Arts specializing in English Language and Literature

With a degree in English from Amity University, Noida, Shirin has won awards for oratory, acting, and creative writing. She has a wealth of experience as an English teacher, editor, and writer, having previously worked at Quizzy and Big Books Publishing. Her expertise lies in editing study guides for children and creating engaging content.

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