Hello to all ; brief story about the only German general fallen in France 1940 ........................
June 14-15, 1940. Violent fight around Sens.
The French units withdraw and regroup. They must fight here and there in different strategic points. After the Seine, the Yonne is a new obstacle to crossing and will be the scene of an unexpected competition between two German generals, von Speck, in the north, at the head of the XVIII. AK (Army Corps) with its infantry divisions and von Kleist, to the south, with its XVI. AK and its Panzers divisions. The fight takes place in several points of the department. In Avallonnais and Tonnerrois, are violent and the German army engages in war crimes by executing prisoners of Senegalese and North African riflemen.
On June 14, the Germans entered Paris without a fight, as it was declared an open city. In the region, the German vanguard faces the French defenses that covers the Courgenay-Lailly sector. Two bodies of French soldiers will be recovered in the garden of the Billet family farm in Lailly, on the return of the exodus. In Theil, an Indo-Chinese rifleman is killed. The road to Sens is busy at night. A hundred French soldiers of the 71e RI were deployed blocking the roads of Thorigny in St-Clément and Pont-sur-Yonne in St Denis-lès-Sens. On June 15, the offensive is now pressing from the north. The Germans crossed the Seine and move from Fontainebleau, Bray-sur-Seine and Nogent-sur-Seine. Now many soldiers are isolated from their command, sometimes without weapons, without enough ammunition, poorly equipped as that regiment of march of foreign volunteers (unit of the foreign legion) called "Regiment of Ficelles (replacement)" rope (ficelles) that is used for Replace firearm straps or laces. On the Popelins' farm, an anti-tank gun destroyed several German tanks. The crew of this gun are killed!
In Pont-sur-Yonne, the old stone bridge remains intact. This is an important strategic goal for both sides. The Germans want it intact to cross as soon as possible and the French want to destroy it to stop them. The enemy aviation attacked the previous day at 17:00 hours, dropping bombs and strafing the edge of the bridge, the station, National Road 5 and St-Sérotin. At least fourteen civilians, locals and refugees are killed and dozens are injured. The command of the 72nd Reconnaissance Group of the Infantry Division in charge of defending the north of Yonne is annihilated during this incursion. Lieutenant Colonel Cros-Mayrevieille, three officers and a non-commissioned officer are killed. The assistants take care of and evacuate the wounded towards Sens. At nightfall, the German vanguards arrive by the highway of Bray-sur-Seine. The first shots are exchanged, but the bridge is firmly defended. As soon as the city recovers from the deadly air attack, another one happens on Saturday the 15th at 05:00 hours. Chaos again. The unfortunate refugees who sleep in the main square are awakened by terrible explosions: screams, dust, smoke ... More deaths and more injuries. It is ordered to blast the bridge and the aqueduct of the Vanne at the height of Villeperrot. This time the order is executed, unlike Sens and other communes where this directive was not followed.
The destruction of the bridge poses a serious problem for the German general staff: the planning of the offensive can be disorganized throughout the sector. General Ritter von Speck, arrives with his officers to appreciate the situation. The convoy arrives by the road of Bray-sur-Seine and the parks near the hotel of the Three Kings. In spite of the shots, the officers descend and approach the dock to observe the destroyed bridge. A French soldier ambushed in a building on the opposite bank sees this group and opens fire with his rifle. Ritter von Speck collapses. Another general is touched in the arm. Von Speck is transported to his car to take him to a dressing station, but succumbs a few minutes later. He is the only German general who will be killed during the 1940 campaign! Paradoxically, on the French side, no difference is noted, the situation does not alter the will of the Germans who built a pontoon bridge near Sixte. The attack intensifies in the north. The defenses are under siege, the brick building located on the left bank at the corner of Carnot and Gambetta streets is riddled with bullets. Taking advantage of the night, the order of withdrawal is given to Villeperrot, where the fights will continue. Given the large number of casualties, 26 civilians and 163 soldiers, during these two days, the new German commander of the sector will have a mass celebrated by Bishop Lamy. An honor guard frames the coffins in the cemetery .......................
Source: http://www.histoire-sens-senonais-yonne ... onais.html
Cheers. Raúl M .