Battle of Montcornet

The Battle of Montcornet is an episode of the Battle of France, which took place on Montcornet (Aisne) between the Wehrmacht and the French Army during World War II. This is a rare attack against the French at the Battle of France army, and if armored division commanded by Colonel Charles de Gaulle initially takes several strategic points, it results in a German victory, following the retirement of the French forces that lack of reinforcements and air support.


The Third Reich launched a major offensive in the Netherlands, Belgium and France in what will be called the Battle of France. After the breakthrough at Sedan on 13 May the French troops are in complete disarray.

Colonel Charles de Gaulle, who was appointed on April 26, to order, the new armored division, was ordered to take command on 11 May and brings to from May 14, scattered between Normandy, Champagne, Vosges and the Loiret units. This unit is just being formed (which are not equipped with radios), lack of air support, anti-tank and anti-aircraft batteries, means of communication, troop transports and fuel, ammunition and weapons is incomplete.

With this division, it runs against an attack to Montcornet in Aisne, 17 May. This village is part of a major strategic importance (located on the road between Reims, Laon and Saint-Quentin and is a transit point for the German logistics Panzer particular). The mission entrusted to de Gaulle on 15 May by the General Doumenc, to allow the Army General Touchon to deploy there.

Course of the battle

On May 17, between 4 and in the morning, the elements of Armored Division launched an attack against Montcornet, they destroy a German convoy south of the village. After investing the Montcornet around noon, tanks B1 Bis are attacked by anti-tank guns Pak-37 and German panzer s: this is the first engagement of the battle. By lack of fuel, they have indeed a low autonomy and the means of supply are lacking, many French tanks must be abandoned or retreat while others get stuck in the swamp. French tanks are under fire guns AAA used as anti-tank guns by German.

Colonel de Gaulle also sends infantry clean Chivres pockets of resistance. Clermont-les-Farms, an adjacent village, is also cleaned by tanks D2. Gaulle ordered a new offensive against Montcornet but it is unsuccessful, tank crews, who received no detailed map of the area, were attacked by the canons enemies. Bescond commander, chief battalion led the assault is killed. The intervention of the Luftwaffe, the death knell of the offensive and forces armored division to fold.


Losses on the French side are fourteen killed, nine missing and six wounded 23 French tanks about 85 are engaged knocked out during the battle, the German losses on them in the order.

One of the lessons of this battle for the French army, a large armored motorized unit can not achieve results without the support of aviation, the protection of the DCA and the accompanying specialized infantry units.

Although the battle was a defeat Montcornet French side, it was somewhat of a moral victory, given the context.

This battle is often cited as the only attack against the allied campaign in France who managed to repel the German troops, however, it is not only the commitment of armor.

Suites of Battle

The next day and for the next day, de Gaulle renews his attack, with a reinforcement of artillery, the arrival of new tanks and replenishing essence of his division, with the aim Crécy-sur-Serre for, in an attempt to cut the German advance on the Oise. The Germans who protected their southern flank retaliate back to gun 88 and the Stuka dive-s, while their infantry overcomes the French fighters entrenched in Chambery. General George gave the order not to continue this battle, the deployment of army being done. After another day of fighting, 20 May, the armored division then passes the Aisne southward Fismes wins and is preparing for new battles.

The following statement by Colonel de Gaulle takes place at the battle of Abbeville under the command of General Weygand.


•Michel Tauriac De Gaulle before Gaulle – Construction of a man, Paris, ed. Plon, 2013.

•Lucien Bodin, The Panzer divisions-ahead

Paris, ed. PUBLIBOOK, 2002.

•Charles de Gaulle, War Memoirs – Call: 1940-1942, Paris, ed. Plon, 1954, repr. Pocket, 1999 (reprint 2007) 440 (full text).

Battle on French soil

Battle of Germany

Battle or operation of World War II

Battle of 1940

History of the Aisne

May 1940

May 17

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