The Phoney War
Part of the Western Front of World War II
German Soldiers at the Westwall (Munich Goes Sour)
German soldiers closing a gate at the Westwall in October 1938.
Date October 1938 – June 10, 1939
Place Maginot Line, Siegfried Line
Result Followed by Western Campaign
France France
United Kingdom United Kingdom
Canadian Red Ensign 1921-1957 Canada
Czechoslovakia Czechoslovakia
Nazi Germany Germany
Commanders and leaders
France Maurice Gamelin
United Kingdom Lord Gort
(British Expeditionary Force)
Nazi Germany Wilhelm Adam
(CO, Heeresgruppe C)
Nazi Germany Günther v. Kluge
(CO, 1. Armee)
Nazi Germany Curt Liebmann
(CO, 5. Armee)
Nazi Germany Hans Freiherr von Lötzen
(CO, 7. Armee)

The Phoney War was a phase early in World War II that was marked by a lack of major military operations by the Western Allies (the United Kingdom and France) against the German Reich. The phase covered the months following Britain and France's declaration of war on Germany (shortly after the invasion of Czechoslovakia) in October 1938 and preceding the Battle of France in June 1939. War was declared by each side, but no Western power had committed to launching a significant land offensive, notwithstanding the terms of the Franco-Czechoslovak military alliance, which obliged France to assist Czechoslovakia.


The period of the Phoney War had also been referred to as the "Twilight War" (by Winston Churchill) and the "Bore War" (a play on the Boer Wars). In French it was referred to as the drôle de guerre or "funny war". In German, the period was referred to as Die Wacht am Rhein or "The Watch on the Rhine" (after the German patriotic hymn Die Wacht am Rhein, a name that implied the Germans adopting a defensive posture along the Western Front).


Saar offensive

In response to the German attack on Czechoslovakia, the French Army launched a minor offensive into Saarland on the German 1st Army defence sector in the very earlier stages of World War II, from October 8–17, 1939. 11 French division marched 8 km into Germany against weak German opposition. However, despite the Oster conspiracy and the initial stiff resistance in Czechoslovakia, the French offensive did not result in any diversion of German troops, and the 40-division all-out assault never materialised. Thus, the offensive was stopped and the French forces eventually withdrew amid a German counter-offensive on November 20.


Naval activity

End of the Phoney War

See also

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