The Siege of Lille or Lille Pocket was a Second World War battle fought during the Battle of France. It took place from 28 to 31 May 1940, in the vicinity of Lille during the Battle of France. It involved about 40,000 men of the French IV Corps and V Corps, part of the First Army (General René Prioux), after the III Corps managed to retreat to the Lys river with the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) divisions nearby. The surrounded portion of the army fought seven German divisions, including three armoured divisions, that were attempting to cut off and destroy the Allied armies in the Battle of Dunkirk. The defence of Lille was of great assistance to the Allied troops retreating into the Dunkirk perimeter.
World War II, also known as the Second World War, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. The vast majority of the world's countries—including all the great powers—eventually formed two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. A state of total war emerged, directly involving more than 100 million people from over 30 countries. The major participants threw their entire economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities behind the war effort, blurring the distinction between civilian and military resources. World War II was the deadliest conflict in human history, marked by 50 to 85 million fatalities, most of whom were civilians in the Soviet Union and China. It included massacres, the genocide of the Holocaust, strategic bombing, premeditated death from starvation and disease, and the only use of nuclear weapons in war.
The Battle of France, also known as the Fall of France, was the German invasion of France and the Low Countries during the Second World War. In the six weeks from 10 May 1940, German forces defeated Allied forces by mobile operations and conquered France, Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands, bringing land operations on the Western Front to an end until 6 June 1944. Italy entered the war on 10 June 1940 and invaded France over the Alps.
The 4th Army Corps of the French Army was formed in 1873 at Le Mans under Général Édouard-Jean-Étienne Deligny. On mobilisation in 1914, it came under control of the Third Army and comprised the 7th and 8th Infantry Divisions.
On the night of 27/28 May, the BEF divisions near Lille were able to retreat over the Lys but only the III Corps of the French First Army (General René Prioux) managed to get away. Many of the French units had retreated from much further south and were still around Lille when German units attacking from the west and east met behind the city. The 4th Panzer Division, 5th Panzer Division and 7th Panzer division and the 11th Infantry Division, 217th Infantry Division, 253rd Infantry Division and 267th infantry Division surrounded most of the First Army in Lille.
The 3rd Army Corps was a corps-sized military formation of the French Army that fought during both World War I and World War II, and was active after World War II until finally being disbanded on 1 July 1998.
René Jacques Adolphe Prioux was a general of the French Army who served in both world wars. A cavalry officer of great talent, Prioux rapidly rose through the officer ranks and commanded the Cavalry Corps of the First Army during the Battle of Belgium in May 1940. He was captured by the Germans and spent two years as a prisoner of war. Repatriated in 1942, Prioux came to be seen as a strong supporter of the Vichy regime and was consequently removed from a position of authority in the French Army by Charles de Gaulle, the leader of the Free French, after the landings in French north Africa by U.S. and British forces in November 1942.
The 4th Panzer Division was an armored division in the German Army, the Wehrmacht, during World War II, established in 1938.
The IV Corps ( Général de corps d'armée Aymes) and V Corps (General René Altmayer) attempted a break-out on the west side of Lille, to retreat towards the Lys at 7:30 p.m. on 28 May. The 2e Division d'infanterie nord-africaine (2e DINA, Major-General Pierre Dame) tried to cross the Deûle river over the bridge to Sequedin (just south of Lomme). The 5e Division d'infanterie nord-africaine (5e DINA, Major-General Augustin Agliany) tried to escape over the Moulin Rouge bridge on the Santes road, south of Haubourdin. Another attempt was made during the morning of 29 May. The Germans had mined the bridge but two French tanks and two companies of infantry got across, although they were then repulsed.
The 5th Army Corps was a military unit of the French Army.
Félix-René Altmayer (1882–1976) was a French general. His father Victor Joseph Altmayer and elder brother Robert Altmayer were also generals. They were of German descent.
The 2nd North African Infantry Division was a French Army formation during World War II.
Molinié and mainly French North African troops (most of them pieds-noirs) from five divisions of the First Army, fought from house to house in the Lille suburbs, German troops trying to infiltrate through gaps and the many civilian refugees stranded in the city. With food and ammunition dwindling, Molinié and Colonel Aizier negotiated surrender and hostilities ended on the night of 31 May. On Saturday, 1 June, 35,000 French troops and some British soldiers surrendered to the Germans at the Grand Place.The German commander, General Kurt Waeger, allowed the French the honours of war and the garrison paraded through the Grand Place as German troops stood to attention, for which Waeger was reprimanded.
In The Second World War (1949), Winston Churchill described the Allied defence of Lille as a "splendid contribution", which delayed the German advance for four days and allowed the escape of the British Expeditionary Force from Dunkirk.William L. Shirer wrote in 1969 that the "gallant" defence of Lille "helped the beleaguered Anglo-French forces around the port to hold out for an additional two to three days and thus save at least 100,000 more troops". Alistair Horrne wrote in 1982 that the French defence of Lille enabled the BEF and the rest of the First Army to retreat into the Dunkirk perimeter and in 2013, Douglas Fermer wrote that the Battle of Lille diverted about seven German divisions during the evacuation of Dunkirk.
The Second World War is a history of the period from the end of the First World War to July 1945, written by Winston Churchill. Churchill labelled the "moral of the work" as follows: "In War: Resolution, In Defeat: Defiance, In Victory: Magnanimity, In Peace: Goodwill".
Sir Winston Leonard Spencer-Churchill, was a British politician, army officer, and writer. He was Prime Minister of the United Kingdom from 1940 to 1945, when he led Britain to victory in the Second World War, and again from 1951 to 1955. Churchill represented five constituencies during his career as a Member of Parliament (MP). Ideologically an economic liberal and British imperialist, for most of his career he was a member of the Conservative Party, which he led from 1940 to 1955, but from 1904 to 1924 was instead a member of the Liberal Party.
The British Expeditionary Force (BEF) was the name of the British Army in Western Europe during the Second World War from 2 September 1939 when the BEF GHQ was formed until 31 May 1940, when GHQ closed down. Military forces in Britain were under Home Forces command. During the 1930s, the British government planned to deter war by rearming from the very low level of readiness of the early 30s and abolished the Ten Year Rule. The bulk of the extra money went to the Royal Navy and the Royal Air Force but plans were made to re-equip a small number of Army and Territorial Army divisions for service overseas.
The Battle of Dunkirk was a military operation that took place in Dunkirk (Dunkerque), France, during the Second World War. The battle was fought between the Allies and Nazi Germany. As part of the Battle of France on the Western Front, the Battle of Dunkirk was the defence and evacuation to Britain of British and other Allied forces in Europe from 26 May to 4 June 1940.
The Battle of the Marne was a World War I battle fought from 6–12 September 1914. It resulted in an Allied victory against the German armies in the west. The battle was the culmination of the German advance into France and pursuit of the Allied armies which followed the Battle of the Frontiers in August and had reached the eastern outskirts of Paris. A counter-attack by six French armies and the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) along the Marne River forced the Imperial German Army to retreat northwest, leading to the First Battle of the Aisne and the Race to the Sea. The battle was a victory for the Allied Powers but led to four years of trench warfare stalemate on the Western Front.
The Dunkirk evacuation, code-named Operation Dynamo, also known as the Miracle of Dunkirk, was the evacuation of Allied soldiers during World War II from the beaches and harbour of Dunkirk, in the north of France, between 26 May and 4 June 1940. The operation commenced after large numbers of Belgian, British, and French troops were cut off and surrounded by German troops during the six-week long Battle of France. In a speech to the House of Commons, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill called this "a colossal military disaster", saying "the whole root and core and brain of the British Army" had been stranded at Dunkirk and seemed about to perish or be captured. In his "we shall fight on the beaches" speech on 4 June, he hailed their rescue as a "miracle of deliverance".
Operation Cycle is the name of the evacuation of Allied troops from Le Havre, in the Pays de Caux of Upper Normandy from 10–13 June 1940, towards the end of the Battle of France, during the Second World War. The operation was preceded by the better known rescue of 338,226 British and French soldiers from Dunkirk in Operation Dynamo (26 May – 4 June). On 20 May, the Germans had captured Abbeville at the mouth of the Somme and cut off the main Allied armies in the north. South of the river, the Allies improvised defences and made local counter-attacks, to dislodge the Germans from bridgeheads on the south bank and re-capture river crossings for an advance northwards to regain contact with the armies in northern France and Flanders.
The First Battle of Ypres was a battle of the First World War, fought on the Western Front around Ypres, in West Flanders, Belgium, during October and November 1914. The battle was part of the First Battle of Flanders, in which German, French and Belgian armies and the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) fought from Arras in France to Nieuport on the Belgian coast, from 10 October to mid-November. The battles at Ypres began at the end of the Race to the Sea, reciprocal attempts by the German and Franco-British armies to advance past the northern flank of their opponents. North of Ypres, the fighting continued in the Battle of the Yser (16–31 October), between the German 4th Army, the Belgian army and French marines.
The 48th Division was an infantry division of the British Army. Part of the Territorial Force (TF) and raised in 1908, the division was originally called the South Midland Division, and was redesignated as the 48th Division in 1915. During the First World War, the division saw service on the Western Front before being transferred to the Italian Front in November 1917 and remaining there for the rest of the war.
The First Army was a field army of France that fought during World War I and World War II. It was also active during the Cold War.
The Battle of Arras, took place on 21 May 1940, during the Battle of France in the Second World War. British and French tanks and infantry advanced south from Arras to force back German armoured forces, which were advancing westwards down the Somme river valley towards the English Channel, to trap the Allied forces in northern France and Belgium. The Anglo-French attack made early gains and panicked some German units but was repulsed after an advance of up to 6.2 mi (10 km) and forced to withdraw after dark to avoid encirclement.
The 3rd SS Panzer Division "Totenkopf" was one of 38 divisions of the Waffen-SS of Nazi Germany during World War II. Its name, Totenkopf, means "death's head" in German, and it is thus sometimes referred to as the Death's Head Division.
The 2nd Panzer Division was an armoured division in the German Army, the Wehrmacht, during World War II.
Winter operations 1914–1915 is the name given to military operations during the First World War from 23 November 1914 – 6 February 1915, on the part of the Western Front held by the British Expeditionary Force (BEF), in French and Belgian Flanders. Both sides had tried to advance in Flanders after the northern flank had disappeared during the Race to the Sea in late 1914. Franco-British attacks towards Lille in October were followed by attacks by the BEF, Belgians and a new French Eighth Army. A German offensive began on 21 October but the 4th Army and 6th Army were only able to take small amounts of ground, at great cost to both sides, at the Battle of the Yser (16–31 October) and further south in the First Battle of Ypres (19 October – 22 November).
The Siege of Calais (1940) was a battle for the port of Calais during the Battle of France in 1940. The siege was fought at the same time as the Battle of Boulogne, just before Operation Dynamo, the evacuation of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) through Dunkirk. After the Franco-British counter-attack at the Battle of Arras, German units were held back to be ready to resist a resumption of the counter-attack on 22 May, despite the protests of General Heinz Guderian, the commander of the XIX Armee Korps, who wanted to rush north up the Channel coast to capture Boulogne, Calais and Dunkirk. An attack by part of the XIX Armee Korps was not authorised until 12:40 a.m. on the night of 21/22 May.
The 70th Infantry Brigade was an infantry brigade of the British Army that saw service during both World War I and World War II and postwar.
The Battle of Hannut was a Second World War battle fought during the Battle of Belgium which took place between 12 and 14 May 1940 at Hannut in Belgium. It was the largest tank battle in the campaign. It was also the largest clash of tanks in armoured warfare history at the time.
The Battle of Messines was fought in October 1914 between the armies of the German and British empires, as part of the Race to the Sea, between the river Douve and the Comines–Ypres canal.
The Battle of Armentières was fought by German and Franco-British forces in northern France in October 1914, during reciprocal attempts by the armies to envelop the northern flank of their opponent, which has been called the Race to the Sea. Troops of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) moved north from the Aisne front in early October and then joined in a general advance with French troops further south, pushing German cavalry and Jäger back towards Lille until 19 October. German infantry reinforcements of the 6th Army arrived in the area during October.
The Battle of the Lys was a major battle between Belgian and German forces during the German Invasion of Belgium of 1940 and the final major battle fought by Belgian troops before their surrender on 28 May. It was the bloodiest of the 18 Days' Campaign. The battle was named after the river Leie, where the battlefield was situated.
The Beauman Division was an improvised formation of the British Expeditionary Force (BEF) during the Second World War, which fought against the German 4th Army in June 1940, during Fall Rot, the final German offensive of the Battle of France.
The International Standard Book Number (ISBN) is a numeric commercial book identifier which is intended to be unique. Publishers purchase ISBNs from an affiliate of the International ISBN Agency.
The History of the Second World War is the official history of the British contribution to the Second World War and was published by Her Majesty's Stationery Office (HMSO). The immense project was sub-divided into areas to ease publication, United Kingdom Military Series, the United Kingdom Civil Series for the civilian war effort; the Foreign Policy series, the Intelligence series and the Medical series are eponymous. Other volumes not under the aegis of the series but published by HMSO may be read as adjuncts, covering matters not considered in great detail or at all, in one case, in the main series. Further volumes, published after the privatisation of HMSO or in the series about the Special Operations Executive, are also useful.