The 24th of May.
Situation in the South: Forces that were inching towards the rear of the French in the Ardennes woods have redirected their efforts and gone off on a bold stroke.
Heavy Air Suppression above is costly but shuts down the Allied air.
They have overrun 2 units that were protecting the highway and Northern flank of the main defense around the Ardennes Canal Bulge. This overrun has freed up a maneuver avenue.
Fuel is frantically shoveled forward. Even disorganized units Fuel up and hit the road. Despite the heavy cost in losses (3 Bns of tanks+ several reductions in aircraft) the Germans reach Cambrai in force!
Below, Kliest, 2nd, 8th and 1st Panzer all stream wide of Charleville and head past Hirson. The overruns power them thru Le Nouvio on Thierache to Cambrai. The airfield is captured, and the perennially delayed 22nd LL lands and moves to capture nearby objectives in a half move, taking Douai.
If Gross Deutschland can eliminate the forces with the 4th XXX HQ in La Cateau Cambresis this will mean a massive isolation and supply choke of all of the forces in this massive pincer move. The GD and 6th Pzr units go as far West as Guise, this will likely force the Allies to live off the land!
The SS:V&T pressed the BEF flank and overrun arty in Ronses. With this attack and German forces in Kortijk all the way to Antwerp the BEF are cut from the coast.
In a bold stroke 3rd Panzer and 9th Panzer from the Northern forces link up! North and South Commands shake hands.
How did this come about?
The French were focused on the protection of the VP hexes – Verdun/Metz, the Ports and Paris.
With Verdun replete with units they had perhaps left too little in the center. While the BEF had focused efforts upon keeping within strike range of the Germans AND looking to find a fight they could win to regain access to the Ports the Center was also weakened in the Northern flank. The ability of the Germans to weave a path to the Coast was clearly not going to happen. But as this assessment was forming the means to drive deep into the French heartland appeared. Key rail junctions and cities were either un guarded or lightly guarded as forces had been striped to protect the Southern approach to Paris.
The French seek attacks to break open the hastily formed trap. A 3^2 v 2^5 attack in the city will result in losses (98%) and no relief. The BEF assess striking into Oostende with the 1.A. or Leutze. This carries just a 38 % chance of Attacker losses to allow a break thru to Lille. This attack fails to dislodge the Germans. The 50th Infantry whilst motorized lacks punch, they could head to Cambrai but would face a 100% chance of losses and just a 12% chance of Do1 5^2 v 10^5 if it were possible to DG prior to attack.
Things look grim. The French have 12-14 SP on hand, the total of 8SP are required. Optionally the French can let the units wither on the vine. The French find an interim solution!
By rushing 2 units to La Cateau Cambresis and re open supply by placing units on the rail lines. The BEF move in force to Tournai.