Second Battle of Sedan
May 10-16, 1940
The Second Battle of Sedan began on May 10, 1940, when German forces advanced into Luxembourg and Belgium. By making their main attack through the Forest of the Ardennes, the Germans sought to avoid the Allies' main strength and penetrate the light defenses along the Meuse River. Elements of the Nineteenth Panzer Corps, commanded by General Heinz Guderian, reached the Meuse River near Sedan on the afternoon of May 12, and on the following day, after extensive aerial bombardment, they attacked. Including the action at Sedan, the Germans crossed the Meuse at three locations, and on the morning of May 16, they broke through the last of the rapidly assembling French forces.
Numerous myths have long surrounded the 1940 campaign. When the battle began, the Germans did not have a concept for what came to be known as the blitzkrieg. Only after the successful campaign did the real potential of modern mechanized warfare become apparent to most German leaders. Much of the key fighting in the battle was waged by the infantry, whose skillful actions enabled German tanks to cross the Meuse River and continue moving despite spirited resistance at several locations south of Sedan. German aircraft made their most important contribution by weakening the will to fight of the French defenders along the Meuse: they actually destroyed few targets and failed to hold up French reinforcements.
The German victory at Sedan provided the opportunity for exploitation to the west and the swift defeat of France. Few battles have provided such unexpected or decisive results.
ROBERT A. DOUGHTY
The Reader's Companion to Military History. Edited by Robert Cowley and Geoffrey Parker. Copyright © 1996 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
How to Cite this Page:
Second Battle of Sedan
Second Battle of Sedan. (2013). The History Channel website. Retrieved 5:11, December 11, 2013, from http://www.history.com/topics/second-battle-of-sedan.
Second Battle of Sedan. [Internet]. 2013. The History Channel website. Available from: http://www.history.com/topics/second-battle-of-sedan [Accessed 11 Dec 2013].
“Second Battle of Sedan.” 2013. The History Channel website. Dec 11 2013, 5:11 http://www.history.com/topics/second-battle-of-sedan.
“Second Battle of Sedan,” The History Channel website, 2013, http://www.history.com/topics/second-battle-of-sedan [accessed Dec 11, 2013].
“Second Battle of Sedan,” The History Channel website, http://www.history.com/topics/second-battle-of-sedan (accessed Dec 11, 2013).
Second Battle of Sedan [Internet]. The History Channel website; 2013 [cited 2013 Dec 11] Available from: http://www.history.com/topics/second-battle-of-sedan.
Second Battle of Sedan, http://www.history.com/topics/second-battle-of-sedan (last visited Dec 11, 2013).
Second Battle of Sedan. The History Channel website. 2013. Available at: http://www.history.com/topics/second-battle-of-sedan. Accessed Dec 11, 2013.