Journal Article

A Reassessment of Anglo-French Strategy during the Phony War, 1939-1940

Talbot Charles Imlay

in The English Historical Review

Volume 119, issue 481, pages 333-372
Published in print April 2004 | ISSN: 0013-8266
Published online April 2004 | e-ISSN: 1477-4534 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/ehr/119.481.333
A Reassessment of Anglo-French Strategy during the Phony War, 1939-1940

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This article examines British and French strategy during the Phony War (September 1939-May 1940). During the 1930s the British and French planned for a long war. Germany, it was believed, possessed an initial advantage stemming from its head-start in rearmament. In time, however, the advantage would shift decisively in Britain and France's favour once the two countries had fully mobilized their resources and those of their empires. Time, in other words, was judged to be an ally. With the onset of war, this confident assessment that time was an ally came under attack as first the French and then the British questioned whether Germany was growing relatively and absolutely weaker over time. By early 1940, French planners and policy-makers had concluded that time was not an ally; their British counterparts, while less certain, also possessed grave doubts about the soundness of a long-war strategy. The result was a growing interest in military operations outside of the Western Front with the aim being to inflict a decisive blow on Germany that would bring the war to a rapid end. As the long-war strategy became a short-war strategy, Anglo-French military planning grew increasingly radical, a process that culminated in early 1940 in plans to attack the Soviet Union.

Journal Article.  0 words. 

Subjects: British History ; World History ; European History ; International History

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