War in France and Flanders

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Any expectations that the war would be a repeat of the stalemate of the Great War trenches were quickly dashed. After the static winter of 1939/40, the ‘bore war’ as it was known to wits The German Blitzkrieg was unleashed in May 1940, with the invasion of France, Belguim, Holland and Luxembourg. Within hours, German panzer columns driving through the wooded Ardennes hills according to the daring ‘Sichelschnitt’ devised by Field Marshal Manstein, had sliced through the Allied lines as they drove relentlessly towards the Channel Ports with Stuka dive bombers strafing the refugee-crowded roads ahead. The BEF and substantial French forces were squeezed back into a shrinking perimeter around Dunkirk, a process hastened by the premature surrender of Belguim. Hitler’s still inexplicable decision to halt his Panzers outside the port for a vital 48 hours allowed the evacuation of most of the BEF minus their equipment, but as Churchill reminded the nation, ‘Wars are not won by evacuations’.