VI. The World Wars and the Interwar Period, 1914–1945 > K. World War II, 1939–1945 > 3. The Conquest of the Low Countries and the Fall of France, 1940
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  The Encyclopedia of World History.  2001.
 
 
3. The Conquest of the Low Countries and the Fall of France, 1940
1940, May 10
 
German armies, without warning, invaded the Netherlands, Belgium, and Luxembourg.  1
The French and British governments dispatched expeditionary forces into Belgium to cooperate with the Belgian army in its resistance. The Germans captured Fort Eben Emael, a key Belgian defense position.  2
 
May 12
 
The Germans crossed the Meuse at Sedan.  3
 
May 13
 
Rotterdam surrendered to the Germans after part of the city had been blasted by an exterminating air attack. The Netherlands army capitulated on May 14.  4
 
May 17–21
 
German mechanized divisions drove deep into northern France, racing down the Somme Valley to the English Channel at Abbeville. The British and Belgian forces in Flanders were thus separated from the main French armies. Gen. Maxime Weygand replaced Gen. Gustave Gamelin as French commander in chief, but he was unable to arrest the French collapse. The fall of Brussels and Namur forced the British and Belgian armies back upon Ostend and Dunkirk.  5
 
May 26
 
Boulogne fell to the Germans. The Belgian armies, disorganized and short of supplies after 16 days of fighting, could not sustain further attacks, and Leopold III ordered them to capitulate.  6
 
May 28
 
Exposed by the capitulation of the Belgians, the British expeditionary force of some 250,000 had to be withdrawn, chiefly from the beaches of Dunkirk.  7
 
June 4
 
By heroic efforts some 200,000 British and 140,000 French troops were rescued, but were forced to abandon almost all equipment. British losses including prisoners totaled 30,000.  8
 
June 5
 
Having secured their right wing, the German invaders launched a wide attack against the French on an arc from Sedan to Abbeville.  9
 
June 10
 
ITALY DECLARED WAR AGAINST FRANCE AND GREAT BRITAIN. Italian forces invaded southern France.  10
 
June 13
 
Paris was evacuated before the continued German advance.  11
 
June 15
 
The French fortress of Verdun was captured.  12
 
 
 
The Encyclopedia of World History, Sixth edition. Peter N. Stearns, general editor. Copyright © 2001 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Maps by Mary Reilly, copyright 2001 by Houghton Mifflin Company. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. All rights reserved.

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