The German panzers were by now advancing towards us. 18ID Recce managed to counter-recce against the Boche and thus slow them down enough for half of 18ID to move towards Valenciennes. In the next move German heavy recce attacked my still emplaced A/T Battalion. Strength points were checked; dice counted out and exchanged; combat rolls made............German recce shot up good and proper for no casualties to my gallant anti-tankers. The withdrawal of 18ID then continued without further ado.
In this picture you can see 18ID dug in at Valenciennes. Also present was a regiment from another infantry division. The CO of which handed them over to my command. A copy of Fall Gelb was recovered by the extreme LH battalion in the picture. It was forwarded as MOST URGENT to French GHQ. I did smile at their lack of security and how this incident mirrored the historical discovery of a briefcase with the German OOB which was passed to General Alan Brooke in the real campaign.
As was apparent from the opening moves the Boche had been ordered to avoid combat and BUAs. But, for whatever reason, the first of two Panzer divisions decided that 18ID had to be dealt with. A second order then arrived from GHQ: Attack! So, after a moment's delay I did my duty and out we came. 'You're not attacking are you?' Queried one of the Fritzers. My reply of 'Oui' drew goggle-eyed consternation from my opponents.
As you may imagine the combat was heavily weighted in favour of the Panzer division. I lost my artillery regiment, my A/T battalion and one of my infantry regiments. But they did not destroy 18ID! Combat results are kept secret in MB but judging by the Germans' faces my brave poilus had done their lead units some harm. And they also forgot their orders to avoid combat and BUAs. My recollection may be a little fuzzy but I'm pretty sure that another Panzer division then tried to sneak past what was already known as Fortress Valenciennes. You can see the sneaky Boche in the top of the picture. There was some confusion over whether my extreme RH infantry regiment had already moved that turn. They hadn't and so were able to swing through 90° to assault the Recce battalions. Which promptly ran away!
The next move saw my depleted, but still full of fight, command retiring back into Fortress Valenciennes and drawing at least one Panzer division with it. During the fighting I had made at least two requests for bombing sorties. A huge boom and then a pillar of smoke explained why L'Armée de L'Aire were absent. The airfield at Douai to our rear had been overrun by Panzers following orders:
So, the gallant reservists of 18ID were now almost alone but not quite cut-off as orders from GHQ still came through as did overnight supplies. Thus far my brave poilus had delayed the best of the Boche for the best part of a game day (17th May 1940). Would we be able to hold out and allow the line to stabilise? Well..............