Siege of Lille (1940)

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Siege of Lille
Part of the Western Front of the Second World War
Bundesarchiv Bild 121-0396, Frankreich, Allee mit zerstörten Fahrzeugen.jpg
Wrecked vehicles near Lille in 1940
Date 28–31 May 1940
Location Lille, France
Result Tactical German victory
  • Fall of Lille 31 May

French strategic victory[1]

France France Nazi Germany Germany
Commanders and leaders
Général Jean-Baptiste Molinié General Fritz Kühne Surrendered
Generalmajor Erwin Rommel
General Joachim Lemelsen
Generalleutnant Max von Hartlieb-Walsporn
Generalleutnant Ludwig Ritter von Radlmeier
5 divisions[1]
(40,000 men)
4 infantry divisions
3 armoured divisions[1]
(110,000 men, 800 tanks)

The Siege of Lille was a Second World War battle fought during the Battle of France. It took place from 28–31 May 1940 in the surroundings of the city of Lille, France during the Battle of France. It involved the remaining 40,000 men of the once-formidable French First Army in a delaying action against seven German divisions, including three armoured divisions, which were attempting to cut off and destroy the Allied armies at Dunkirk.

General Molinié and Colonel Aizier negotiate a surrender at midnight in honor of the defenders of Lille and its suburbs. Saturday, June 1 at the Grand Place French troops and some English surrendered arms to the Germans.

As a consequence of the continued French resistance, a number of Allied formations managed to escape to Dunkirk.[2] Winston Churchill, writing in The Second World War described the French defence of Lille as '..for four critical days contained no less than seven German divisions which otherwise could have joined in the assaults on the Dunkirk perimeter. This was a splendid contribution to the escape of their more fortunate comrades and of the BEF.'[3]

It appears[vague] that the German divisions in question were the 4th, 5th, and 7th Panzer Divisions, and the 7th, 217th, 253rd and 267th Infantry Divisions.


  1. ^ a b c Shirer (1969), p. 746. Shirer notes, "The remnants of the once formidable First Army, ... now under the command of General Molinié, held out around Lille until late on May 31, engaging seven German divisions, three of them panzer, and thus preventing them from joining the enemy assault on Dunkirk. This gallant stand helped the beleaguered Anglo-French forces around the port to hold out for an additional two to three days and thus save at least 100,000 more troops."
  2. ^ "Battle of Lille (25–31 May 1940)". Retrieved 2008-08-20. 
  3. ^ Winston Churchill, The Second World War (book series), Volume II: Their Finest Hour, Reprint Society edition, 6th impression 1953, 94.

Coordinates: 50°38′0″N 3°4′0″E / 50.63333°N 3.06667°E / 50.63333; 3.06667