Allied order of battle

10 May – 25 June 1940 

Allied forces

The majority of the Allied forces were French although the British Expeditionary Force (The BEF) along with the Netherland and Belgium also had committed substantial forces to oppose Germany in Western Europe.

The Supreme command was held by the French Commander-in-Chief Général d'armée Maurice Gamelin. His deputy commander was Général d'armée Alphonse Joseph Georges was was also appointed Commander of the North-western Front.

French Commander-in-Chief Général d'armée Maurice Gamelin.

Deputy commander Général d'armée Alphonse Joseph Georges.

Total Allied strength

In total, the French had 117 divisions (some sources give 116 or 123) of which over 100 of these – the vast majority – were allocated for the defence of north France. The BEF contributed 10 fighting divisions and 3 untrained labour divisions, Belgium had 22, the Dutch 10 and there were also two Polish divisions, made up of troops who had evaded capture when Poland had surrendered to Germany.

  • 63 infantry divisions (of which 30 were regular) ;
  • 7 motorized infantry divisions;
  • 3 armoured divisions;
  • 3 light mechanized divisions;
  • 5 cavalry divisions;
  • 13 fortress divisions.
  • The general reserve comprised a further 17 infantry, 2 motorized and 3 armoured divisions.

 Comparison chart for French Infantry, Light mechanised and Armoured Divisions.

France had 10,700 artillery pieces, the British 1,280 guns, Belgium 1,338 and the Dutch could muster 665 pieces. In total, this gave the Allied forces around 14,000 guns – considerably more than the Germans – 45 percent more to be exact.

Furthermore, the French Army was considerably more motorised than the opposing Germans – which relied on a high number of horses to act as transport. Although the BEF, Belgians and Dutch were not able to contribute much in the way of tanks, the French had a sizeable, armoured force at its disposal: 3, 254 tanks which included Char 1b models – heavily armoured and hard hitting models which outgunned anything the Germans had.  

However, the French Army was of mixed quality. Its mechanized divisions had only recently been formed and so lacked training. The French defensive mindset meant that many of its troops had been trained to operate behind static operations – akin to the First World War – as opposed to a fast moving, fluid series of engagements.

Comparison chart for French Tank Battalion Groups and Spahi (Colonial) Brigades.

Its reserve divisions were ill-equipped, and it seriously lacked anti-aircraft guns and effective wireless communications (between 1923 and 1939, only 0.15 percent of French military spending had been on communications). This created a serious deficit which the French Commander-in-Chief, Gamelin, tried to compensate for by using telephones and couriers as the main method of communication in the French Army.

Another issue facing the French military was its outdated approach to tactical deployment. Although it outnumbered the Germans in terms of tanks, rather than concentrate its armoured forces to take advantage of this superiority, its tanks were distributed amongst its infantry units – each army having a tank brigade of 90 light tanks allocated to it -to act as infantry support.

French Renault R-35 Light Infantry tank.

The remaining heavier French tanks were hampered by inferior communications (only heavy tanks tended to have wireless fitted, and these were often unreliable). And due to outdated French views still seeing the tanks priority role as infantry support, little priority had been given to their speed, which resulted in most French tanks being slower than their German counterparts.

Air support

The Armée de l'Air (French Air Force) could field 1,562 aircraft which included the modern US Curtiss Hawk 75 and the Dewoitine D.520 (although initially, only 36 of the latter had been delivered to French squadrons by the time of the German invasion.)

The British contributed 680 Royal Air Force (RAF) fighters (predominately modern Hawker Hurricanes) and 392 bombers (some modern, some approaching obsolescence like the Fairey Battle). With an additional 81 Belgian aircraft, the Allies fighters outnumbered the 836 German Bf 109’s and they had more aircraft in reserve.

The Dewoitine D520, the best French fighter of WW2. In May 1940 101 were delivered and by June the output had reached ten per day. This fighter was credited with 147 kills for the loss of 85 fighters and 44 pilots.

However, while the French industry was churning out a significant number of aircraft – there was an estimated 2000 in reserve – it lacked spare parts and many of its reserve aircraft were therefore unserviceable. Only 29 percent (599 out of 2000) were in any state to actually contribute to the battle. Furthermore, the Germans outnumbered the French 6 to 1 in in medium bombers.

Despite these issues, the Armée de l'Air was to perform well in the forthcoming battle, destroying 916 enemy aircraft and achieving a kill ratio if 2.35:1. A third of all French air victories were achieved by the Curtis Hawk 75, despite it only accounting for 12.6 per cent of all French single-seat fighters.

French First Army Group

The First Army Group was responsible for guarding the north-east frontier of France, poised to move into Belgium or the Netherlands should Germany invade either of those countries. The First consisted of four French armies, the Belgian Army and the British Expeditionary Force (BEF).

Général d'armée Gaston Billotte was Commander-in-Chief until he died in a car accident on 23 May 1940, He was succeeded by Général d'armée Georges Maurice Jean Blanchard.

Général d'armée Georges Maurice Jean Blanchard.

First Army 

Commanded by Général d'armée Georges Maurice Jean Blanchard

  • Cavalry Corps - Général de corps d'armée René Prioux (vs. Hoeppner's XVI Pz Corps @ Hannut)
  • 2nd Light Mechanized Division - Général de brigade Gabriel-Marie-Joseph Bougrain (vs. Hoeppner Corps)
  • 3rd Light Mechanized Division - Général de brigade Jean-Léon-Albert Langlois [1]
  • 3rd Corps - General de Fornel de la Laurencie
  • 1st Motorized Infantry Division
  • 1st Moroccan Infantry Division
  • 2nd North African Infantry Division
  • 4th Corps - Général de division Aymes
  • 32nd Infantry Division
  • 15th Motorized Infantry Division - Général de brigade Alphonse Juin
  • 5th Corps - Général de corps d'armée René Altmayer
  • 5th North African Infantry Division
  • 101st Infantry Division
  • Belgian VII Corps
  • 2nd Chasseurs Ardennais - Général de brigade Maurice-Colombe-Louis Keyaerts [2] (at Chabrehez and Houx vs. 7th Pz Div)
  • 8th Infantry Division

French soldiers of the 4th Army, Lorraine, France, Spring 1940.


ImagesDefense - ImagesDefense

Second Army

Commanded by Général d'armée Charles Huntziger

  • 5th Light Cavalry Division - Général de brigade Marie-Jacques-Henri Chanoine [3] (to Neufchateau-Bastogne, vs Guderian 1st and 2nd Pz, evacuated Sedan)
  • 2nd Light Cavalry Division (to Habay La Neuve, Arlon Gap, vs 10th Pz Div)
  • 1st Cavalry Brigade
  • Directly reporting: (Reserves)
  • 4th Tank Battalion
  • 7th Tank Battalion
  • 205th Inf Regt
  • 213th Inf Regt - Lt Colonel Labarthé
  • 10th Corps - Général de corps d'armée Pierre-Paul-Jacques Grandsard [4]
  • 55th Infantry Division - Général de brigade Henri-Jean LaFontaine [5] (Donchery and La Marfee on the Meuse, vs Guderian, 1st, 2nd Pz Divs.)
  • 71st Infantry Division - Général de brigade Joseph-Antoine-Jacques-Louis Baudet [6] (Wadelincourt on the Meuse and Raucourt, vs Guderian's 10th Pz Div)
  • 3rd North African Infantry Division (South of 71st Div)
  • 18th Corps - Général de division Paul-André Doyen
  • 1st Colonial Infantry Division
  • 3rd Colonial Infantry Division
  • 41st Infantry Division

Royal Artillery 25-pounder field gun in action at Saint-Maxent, northern France, sometime between 26 and 29 May 1940.

Seventh Army

Commanded by Général d'armée Henri Giraud

  • 21st Infantry Division
  • 60th Infantry Division
  • 68th Infantry Division
  • 1st Corps
  • 1st Light Mechanized Division
  • 25th Motorized Division - Général de division Molinié
  • 16th Corps
  • 9th Motorized Division

Ninth Army

Commanded by Général d'armée André Corap

  • 4th North African Infantry Division - Général de division Charles-Èugene Sancelme [7] (at Onhaye, vs 7th Pz Div)
  • 53rd Infantry Division - Général de brigade Jean-Marie-Léon Etchberrigaray (vs 2nd Pz)
  • 2nd Corps Général de corps d'armée Jean-Gabriel Bouffet [8]
  • 4th Light Cavalry Division - Général de division Paul-Louis-Arthur Barbe [9] (deployed into the Ardennes, across the Meuse to the Ourthe, then Marche, vs 7th Pz Div)
  • 5th Motorized Division - Général de brigade Jean-Noël-Louis Boucher [10] (Haut-le-Wastia, vs 7th Pz)
  • 11th Corps - Général de corps d'armée Julien-Françoise-René Martin
  • 1st Light Cavalry Division
  • 18th Infantry Division - Général de division Camille-Léon Duffet [11] (on the Meuse at Houx, vs 7th Pz Div)
  • 66th Regt
  • 77th Regt
  • 125th Regt
  • 22nd Infantry Division - Général de brigade Joseph-Louis-Françoise Hassler [12] (Givet on the Meuse, vs 7th Pz Div)
  • 41st Corps - Général de corps d'armée Emmanuel-Urbain Libaud [13]
  • 61st Infantry Division - Général de brigade Arsène-Marie Paul Vauthier (N of Monthermé vs 8 Pz Div)
  • 102nd Fortress Division - Général de division Françoise-Arthur Portzert [14] (Monthermé, vs 6th Pz Div)
  • 3rd Spahi Brigade [fr] - Colonel Marc (La Horgne v 1st Pz)

General Lord Gort, commander of the BEF, with General Alphonse Georges, commander of the French Ninth Army.

Imperial War Museums (

French armored reserves

  • 1st Armored Division - Général de brigade Marie-Germain-Christian Bruneau [15] (deployed to Charleroi then to Flavion, arrived low on fuel or out of fuel, vs 7 Pz Div and then 5th Pz Div)
  • 2nd Armored Division - Général de brigade Albert-Charles-Émile Bruché [16] (to Signy, deployed piecemeal, destroyed by Reinhardt's XLI Pz Corps)
  • 3rd Armored Division - Général de brigade Georges-Louis Brocard [17] (to west of Stonne, versus Grossdeutschland Regt, 10th Pz Div, dispersed, small detachment attacked Stonne but driven off)
  • 3rd Motorized Infantry Division - Général de brigade Paul-Jean-Léon Bertin-Bossu [18] (to west of Stonne, dispersed, attacked Stonne but driven off)
  • 4th Armored Division - Général de brigade Charles de Gaulle

British Expeditionary Force (BEF)

Commanded by General Lord Gort

  • 5th Infantry Division - Major-General Harold Franklyn
  • 12th Infantry Division - Major-General Roderic Loraine Petre
  • 23rd Infantry Division - Major-General William Norman Herbert
  • 46th Infantry Division - Major-General Henry Curtis
  • I Corps (UK) - Lieutenant-General Michael Barker succeeded by Major-General Harold Alexander
  • 1st Infantry Division - Major-General Harold Alexander
  • 2nd Infantry Division - Major-General Charles Loyd, succeeded by Brigadier Noel Irwin
  • 48th Infantry Division - Major-General Andrew Thorne
  • II Corps (UK) - Lieutenant-General Alan Brooke succeeded by Major-General Bernard Montgomery
  • 3rd Infantry Division - Major-General Bernard Montgomery, succeeded by Brigadier Kenneth Anderson
  • 4th Infantry Division - Major-General Dudley Johnson
  • 50th Infantry Division - Major-General Giffard Le Quesne Martel
  • III Corps (UK) - Lieutenant-General Ronald Adam
  • 42nd Infantry Division - Major-General William Holmes
  • 44th Infantry Division - Major-General Edmund Osborne

4th Battalion Border Regiment on the Somme Front, May 1940: Soldiers of the 4th Battalion, Border Regiment take up defensive positions by the roadside.

Imperial War Museum

French Second Army Group

Commanded by General de Armee Andre-Gaston Pretelat, the French Second Army was tasked with manning and defending the Maginot Line region from Montmédy to south of Strasbourg. The 87th African Infantry Division and 4th Colonial Infantry Division reported directly to Second Army.

General de Armee Andre-Gaston Pretelat.

Third Army

Commanded by General Charles-Marie Condé

  • 3rd Light Cavalry Division - General Petiet
  • 6th Infantry Division - General Lucien
  • 6th North African Infantry Division - General de Verdilhac
  • 6th Colonial Infantry Division - General Carles
  • 7th Infantry Division
  • 8th Infantry Division
  • French Colonial Corps
  • 2nd Infantry Division - General Klopfenstein
  • British 51st (Highland) Infantry Division - Major-General Victor Fortune
  • 56th Infantry Division
  • 6th Corps
  • 26th Infantry Division
  • 42nd Infantry Division
  • 24th Corps - General Fougère
  • 51st Infantry Division - General Boell
  • 42nd Corps - General Sivot
  • 20th Infantry Division - General Corbe
  • 58th Infantry Division - General Perraud

Lost French patrol during the Battle of France.

3qTjZs2.jpg (1175×821) (

Fourth Army

Fifth Army

Commanded by General Edouard Réquin

  • Polish 1st Infantry Division - General Bronisław Duch
  • 45th Infantry division - General Roux
  • 9th Corps - General Laure
  • 11th Infantry Division - General Arlabosse
  • 47th Infantry Division - General Mendras
  • 20th Corps - General Hubert
  • 52nd Infantry Division
  • 82nd African Infantry Division

Commanded by General Victor Bourret

  • 44th Infantry Division
  • 8th Corps
  • 24th Infantry Division
  • 31st Infantry Division
  • 12th Corps
  • 16th Infantry Division
  • 35th Infantry Division
  • 70th Infantry Division
  • 17th Corps
  • 62nd Infantry Division
  • 103rd Infantry Division
  • 43rd Corps
  • 30th Infantry Division

French Third Army Group

The Commander-in-Chief of the French Third Army Group was Général d'Armée Antoine-Marie-Benoit Besson. His forces were tasked with guarding the southern section of the Maginot Line by the River Rhine.

Général d'Armée Antoine-Marie-Benoit Besson.

Gallica (

Eight Army

Commanded by General Marcel Garchery

  • 7th Corps
  • 13th Infantry Division
  • 27th Infantry Division
  • 13th Corps
  • 19th Infantry Division
  • 54th Infantry Division
  • 104th Fortress Division
  • 105th Fortress Division
  • 44th Corps
  • 67th Infantry Division
  • 45th Corps
  • 57th Infantry Division
  • 63rd Infantry Division
  • Polish Second Infantry Fusiliers Division - Brigadier-General Bronisław Prugar-Ketling

French machine gun crew, 1940.

French forces facing Italy

French Reserves

Three reserve corps were already in position at the start of the German invasion of France. The Vii and XXIII Corps were located behind the 2nd and 3rd French Army Groups.

The following divisions were also kept in reserve:

  • 10th Infantry Division
  • 14th Infantry Division
  • 23rd Infantry Division
  • 28th Infantry Division
  • 29th Infantry Division
  • 36th Infantry Division
  • 43rd Infantry Division
  • 1st North African Infantry Division
  • 7th North African Infantry Division
  • 5th Colonial Infantry Division
  • 7th Colonial Infantry Division

Armee des Alps Commanded by Général d'Armée René Olry

3 infantry divisions of type B

14th Army Corps 

15th Army Corps

    • Fortification sectors: Dauphiné, Savoie, Alpes Maritimes
    • Defence sectors: Rhône, Nice

Originally the French Sixth Army, the Army of the Alps was responsible for manning the southeast frontier with Italy. Overall, French forces in the region numbered about 35,000 soldiers.

Char B1 bis French heavy tank, 1940.

Belgian Army

Approximately 600,000 troops in 22 divisions and supported by 1,338 artillery pirces, 10 tanks and 240 other combat vehicles. Personally commanded by King Leopold III of Belgium and advised  by Lieutenant-general Raoul van Overstraeten with General-major Oscar Michiels serving as Chief of the General Staff.

King Leopold III of Belgium.

  • I Corps - Lieutenant-general Alexis van der Veken
  • 4th Infantry Division
  • 7th Reserve Infantry Division
  • II Corps - Lieutenant-general Victor Michem
  • 6th Infantry Division
  • 14th Reserve Infantry Division
  • III Corps - Lieutenant-general Joseph de Krahe
  • 2nd Infantry Division
  • 3rd Infantry Division
  • IV Corps - Lieutenant-general André Bogaerts
  • 12th Reserve Infantry Division
  • 15th Reserve Infantry Division
  • 18th Reserve Infantry Division
  • V Corps - Lieutenant-general Edouard Van den Bergen
  • 13th Reserve Infantry Division
  • 17th Reserve Infantry Division
  • VI Corps - Lieutenant-general Fernand Verstraete
  • 5th Infantry Division
  • 10th Reserve Infantry Division
  • VII Corps - Lieutenant-general Georges Deffontaine
  • 8th Reserve Infantry Division
  • 2nd Chasseurs Ardennais Division
  • Cavalry Corps - Lieutenant-general Maximilien de Neve de Roden
  • 1st Infantry Division
  • 14th Reserve Infantry Division
  • 2nd Cavalry Division
  • Group Ninitte
  • Group K - Lieutenant-general Maurice Keyaerts
  • 1st Cavalry Division
  • 1st Chasseurs Ardennais Division
  • General Reserve
  • 11th Reserve Infantry Division
  • 16th Reserve Infantry Division

The Belgium Army in 1940 mechanised quick reaction border defence squads, equipped with Carden Loyd Tank variants and T15 tanks.

Royal Netherlands Army

Divided into four corps, a motorised division and a defence division, the total strength of the RNA was 240,000 troops. Supported by 676 artillery pieces and 32 armoured cars, and was led by Generaal Henri Winkelman, Supreme Commander of the Royal Netherlands Army and Navy.


Field Army Command - Luitenant-generaal Godfried van Voorst tot Voorst

Generaal Henri Winkelman,

II Corps - Generaal-majoor Jacob Harberts

  • 2nd Division
  • 4th Division

III Corps - Generaal-majoor Adrianus van Nijnatten

  • 5th Division
  • 6th Division
  • Light Division (Attached)
  • Peel Division (Attached)

IV Corps - Generaal-majoor Adrianus van den Bent

  • 7th Division
  • 8th Division
  • A, B, G Brigades

I Corps - Generaal-majoor Nicolaas Carstens

  • 1st Division
  • 3rd Division

Dutch army soldiers in the trenches during the battle of the Grebbeberg, May 1940.