Siege of Lille (1940)
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 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.
The 4th Panzer Division, 5th Panzer Division and 7th Panzer division and the 11th Infantry Division, 217th Infantry Division, 253rd Infantry Division and 267th infantry division surrounded part of the First Army in Lille. The IV Corps General de corps d'armee Boris and V Corps attempted a breakout on the west side of Lille to retreat towards the Lys at 7:30 p.m. on 28 May, when the 2e Division d'infanterie nord-africaine (2e DINA, Major-General Pierre Dame) tried to cross the Deûle river over the bridge to Sequedin (just south of Lomme). The 5e Division d'infanterie nord-africaine (5e DINA, Major-General Augustin Agliany) tried to escape over the Moulin Rouge bridge on the Santes road, south of Haubourdin. Another attempt was made during the morning of 29 May. The Germans had mined the bridge but two French tanks and two companies of infantry got across and were then repulsed. For the next four days, General Molinié and mainly French North African troops fought on. Molinié and Colonel Aizier negotiated a surrender at midnight on 3/4 June and on Saturday, 1 June, at the Grand Place French troops and some British surrendered arms to the Germans. In honour of the defenders of Lille and its suburbs the garrison was allowed to march into captivity. As a consequence of the French defence of Lille, the BEF and the rest of the First Army were able to retreat into the Dunkirk perimeter.
and in 1969 William L. Shirer wrote that,
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.
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