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World War II, air war, German European offensive

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German air operations in Europe began with Case White, the invasion of Poland. After the end of that campaign and temporary peace with Russia, Hitler turned to Western Europe, first with threats, and then with the invasion of France and the Low countries. Planning began for Operation Sealion, the invasion of the British Isles, which would be called off in late 1940. Nevertheless, after Western Europe had followed and action against Britain reduced to harassment and action against shipping, Hitler's attention turned to the south of Europe, which Churchill regarded as the "soft underbelly".

The invasion of Poland

Operations in continental Western Europe

The Low Countries

German air and air assault operation met with mixed success, but prepared the way for the attack into


The 17th June 1940, when there was no longer talk about 'Réduit Breton' (*1), the first German bombardment in the west left more than 800 dead at Rennes railway station. This spread terror among the civilian population. Two hours earlier Marshal Pétain broadcast this message on the radio; ‘Frenchmen we must cease fighting.’ The roads to Brittany were then open to the army of the 3rd Reich. For the twentieth anniversary of that sorrowful day, Pierre Cressard relates the catastrophic events of the day in the following article.[1]
  1. {{citation | title = Rennes, Brittany, France, Monday 17th June 1940. Luftwaffe attack on trains; interviews with "Sergeant George" | a The battle continued on the invasion front and particularly along the course of the river Loire. There was fierce fighting throughout Orléans and in the region of Charité-sur-Loire, where the enemy that had managed to cross the Loire was contained behind the lateral canal. The British Expeditionary Force together with the French Army were fiercely resisting the German invaders from the west of Basse Loire to the east of Chartres, in the region of Laigle, La Ferté Vidame and Châteaudun and were mounting a number of counter attacks. This was the deteriorating situation that was summarised in the Official communiqué nr. 575 of the evening of 17th June 1940. This was the ultimate communiqué to reach our region under the control of the French military censorship. But of this 17th June massacre of military and civilians, thus adding to the list of those thousands killed from the 10th of May, nothing is mentione