- Saar Offensive
The Saar Offensive was a French operation into the
Saarlandon the German 1.Armee defence sector in the early stages of World War II. The purpose of the attack was to assist Poland, which was then under attack. However, the assault was stopped and the French forces withdrew.
According to the
Franco-Polish military convention, the French Army was to start preparations for the major offensive three days after mobilisation started. The French forces were to effectively gain control over the area between the French border and the German lines and were to probe the German defences. On the 15th day of the mobilisation (that is on September 16), the French Army was to start a full scale assault on Germany. The pre-emptive mobilisation was started in France on August 26and on September 1full mobilisation was declared.
A French offensive in the
Rhine rivervalley area ("Saar Offensive") started on September 7, four days after France declared war on Germany. Then, the Wehrmachtwas occupied in the attack on Poland, and the French soldiers enjoyed a decisive numerical advantage along the border with Germany. However, the French did not take any action that was able to assist the Poles. Eleven French divisions advanced along a 32 km line near Saarbrückenagainst weak German opposition. The French Army had advanced to a depth of 8 kilometres and captured about 20 villages evacuated by the German army, without any resistance. However, the half-hearted offensive was halted after France seized the Warndt Forest, three square miles of heavily-mined German territory.
The attack did not result in any diversion of German troops. The all-out assault was to be carried out by roughly 40 divisions, including one armoured division, three mechanized divisions, 78 artillery regiments and 40 tank battalions. On
September 12, the Anglo-French Supreme War Councilgathered for the first time at Abbevillein France. It was decided that all offensive actions were to be halted immediately. By then the French divisions had advanced approximately eight kilometres into Germany on a 24 kilometre-long strip of the frontier in the Saarlandarea. Maurice Gamelinordered his troops to stop "not closer than 1 kilometre" from the German positions along the Siegfried Line. Poland was not notified of this decision. Instead, Gamelin informed marshal Edward Rydz-Śmigłythat half of his divisions were in contact with the enemy, and that French advances had forced the Wehrmachtto withdraw at least six divisions from Poland. The following day the commander of the French Military Mission to PolandGeneral Louis Fauryinformed the Polish chief of staff, general Wacław Stachiewicz, that the planned major offensive on the western front had to be postponed from September 17to September 20. At the same time, French divisions were ordered to retreat to their barracksalong the Maginot Line. The Phoney Warhad begun.
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