At The Front With The French Army – Report from Victor Lusinchi – Mutual – November 16, 1939 – Gordon Skene Sound Collection –
The early days of the War in Europe, with the French Army largely waiting and mostly guessing where the German Army was going to go next. The Maginot Line was prepared – troops had been sent to the Belgian border, on the assumption an attack from Germany might come from neutral territories and not directly along the French/German frontier. So defenses were set up along the frontiers separating France from Belgium and Luxembourg. Mini-fortresses had been constructed in the wooded areas and gun emplacements dotted the open frontier. The French were digging in and waiting – and waiting.
Mutual and New York Times reporter Victor Lusinchi reported on the preparations the French army was taking, in anticipation of an attack. The preparations were elaborate and the technology, at the time, was state-of-the-art – even techniques in camouflage were vastly different and more sophisticated than they had been in 1914. But the issue still remained – was this going to be a war fought on 1914 terms or was this going to be something new and more deadly in 1939? Judging from the actions over Poland, this was something new. But the French Army was adamant that the concept of the Maginot Line would be the saving grace, no matter what.
In the first few months of the war, Germany still hoped to persuade Britain to agree to peace. Although London hospitals prepared for 300,000 casualties in the first week, Germany unexpectedly did not immediately attack British cities by air, and German pilots that attacked Scottish naval bases said that they would have been court-martialled and executed for bombing civilians. Both sides found that attacks on military targets, such as a British attack on Kiel on the second night of the war, led to high losses of aircraft. They also feared retaliation for bombing civilians. (Britain and France did not realize that Germany used 90% of its frontline aircraft during the Polish invasion.)
Lusinchi describes the conditions as good and the morale of the troops as high, although French Army officials were concerned over long periods of inactivity and the relative boredom of laying barbed-wire and digging in defenses. Preparations were being made to construct recreation centers and improved living quarters since it was anticipated this period of relative calm could last a long time.
And that’s what was going on with the French Army at The Front on this November 16, 1939 as reported by Victor Lusinchi for Mutual Broadcasting.
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