Battle of Hannut

The Battle of Hannuit took place during the Second World War in Belgium, on a north-south line on both sides of the common Hannuit, it opposed the May 12 to 14, 1940 the body of French cavalry commanded by Prioux in general German armored corps of General Hoepner.

This was the first tank battle (against tanks) in modern history and a French victory. In total 164 German tanks were destroyed against 105 French.

Campaign before the battle

Under the Dyle Plan and in the broader context of the Dyle-Breda operation which aimed to reach rapidly the Netherlands, the cavalry corps of General Prioux French troops was to cover up towards the north wanting to front of the Germans to fill the strategic vacuum around Hannuit and Crehen. This is indeed where the German tanks had to go because there was no natural obstacle except the Little Gette, a stream that DLM advocates, including the regiment of dragoons, supported by (for Vernejoul) and (Touzet du Vigier) cuirassier regiments.

Belgian troops must first defend the Albert Canal, then retreat to position northwest of the Cavalry Corps, along the line KW. This line, which consisted of pillboxes, roadblocks and barriers Cointet extended Antwerp to Wavre.


The body of French cavalry faced the frontal German body. Neighboring units are not involved in the fighting.

Cavalry Corps

The French cavalry corps includes two light mechanized divisions (DLM), each containing two light mechanized brigades, one with two tank regiments (40 medium tanks and 40 light tanks each) and the other with a regiment of discovery (armored ) and a regiment of dragoons:

• DLM (general Bougrain), divided into two brigades, the BLM (comprising tanks) and BLM (reconnaissance and infantry)

◦ dragoon regiment (40 tanks and 40 tanks Somua Hotchkiss);

◦ dragoon regiment (40 tanks and 40 tanks Somua Hotchkiss);

◦ Cuirassiers (Colonel Morio: discovery on AMD);

◦ regiment of dragoons (Colonel Bellefon: infantry);

◦71 Artillery Regiment terrain;

• DLM (General Langlois) divided into two brigades, the BLM (General La Font, involving tanks) and BLM (Col des Loges, combining recognition and infantry)

◦ Cuirassier Regiment (Lieutenant Colonel Vernejoul: 40 tanks and 40 tanks Somua Hotckiss);

◦ Cuirassier Regiment (Lieutenant Colonel Touzet du Vigier: 40 tanks and 40 tanks Somua Hotckiss);

◦ Cuirassiers (Colonel Leyer, future chief of staff: discovery);

◦ regiment of dragoons (Colonel Revouy: infantry);

◦76 Artillery Regiment terrain.

These two units, created in 1937 and 1940, are powerful, fast and well trained. Adapted to modern combat, they are among the best units of the French Army, although lacking air defense assets. Each division has more than 16 tanks reserve. This body of cavalry was sent to cover from 10 May in the Belgian plain deployment of French-Belgian-British forces by Gamelin, chief of the French armies. Its mission is to delay until the morning (until the evening initially) on May 14, the German advance.

The German body (in German) is opposed. It includes armored divisions. Well trained, they make full use of their material, consisting of Panzers I, II, III and IV, less powerful (except the Panzer IV), but faster than the French tanks, the division of tasks between the members of the crew of each tank was also much better thought in French tanks.


The Battle of Gembloux Hannuit and the related. They go into the strategy to stop the German offensive in Belgium.

General Prioux operates cuts the Méhaigne and small Gette. On 11 May, the retired Belgian forces pierced the Albert Canal exposed the left flank of the French body that fights backwards. The Belgians, positioned northwest, covering armor of General Prioux.

The fights start between May 12 and DLM (general Stever) (general Stumpff), supported by von Richtofen. The dragoons, supported by cuirassiers, while effectively resists, and DLM is back in good order, in the evening, five to seven kilometers.

On 13 May, the DLM attack, but this offensive was repulsed by German anti-aircraft, anti-tank. Progression, to the north, threatening to turn the DLM, which is back in the afternoon, despite the resistance and cuirassiers. The decline is more important than the day before: 10, Hoepner not carrying it because of logistical problems refueling.

On 14 May, the two French divisions continue to decline fighting, without actually giving in to German pressure, falling behind the Dyle line – Namur, the Gembloux Gap, as foreseen in the plans.

All German tanks involved in the fighting, only 239 French tanks are engaged.

Results of the battle

Although forced to retreat and unable to commit all his forces (in ignorance of the actual front of him), the Cavalry Corps fulfills its delaying mission. The operates much torque-tank aircraft, supported by superior artillery.

This battle shows the qualities tank battle as French Somua S-35 deal with German lighter. By the tactics used (concentration of tanks rather than dispersion), the Battle of Hannuit shows a good understanding of new tactics of using shielded campaign by General Prioux, which is a great location in the countryside of France.

With the battle Flavion southeast of Belgium, conducted by the tanks of General Bruneau against those of General Hoth battles Hannuit and Gembloux form only one that demonstrates the quality of French tanks and their command, unfortunately without sufficient support from French and English French aviation and without hedging against the South following the breakthrough at Sedan, which would result in the general retreat of the Allied armies and defeat German offensive.

Battle or operation of World War II

Battle of the history of France

Battle of Germany

Battle of 1940


1940 Belgium

May 1940

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