In Poland "Phoney war" is treated as betrayal by UK and France, who only declared war against Germany and did not perform any other actions. This combined with Soviet attack on 17th September is said to be one of main reasons of lost of the war.

I have read this question and associated answers, I don't want to ask why western Allies did not invade Germany to support Poland, it is clearly explained in choster's answer.

However, in my opinion, it is not 100% fair to say UK did not do anything. The Royal Navy began fightings at the very beginning and one can believe it was everything they could do. Sources say France launched Saar Offensive and "Britain and France also began a naval blockade of Germany on 3 September which aimed to damage the country's economy and war effort." (source). However, I can't find what this blockade look on the French side. All I can imagine was (like in WW1) that UK was responsible for North Atlantic (including North Sea) while France -- for Mediterranean (which has little sense as Italy was neutral then and there was no other enemy country like Austria-Hungary or Turkey during WW1).

What major or even minor actions did France performed during late 1939?

  • "However, in my opinion, it is not 100% fair to say UK did not do anything". They didn't do anything to really help Poland. Doing sth convienent and easily doable not always means helpful - as you could see at 6th October 1939 British/French effort was worth 0. Apr 2, 2015 at 17:35

2 Answers 2


It was mainly a "Phoney War." But early in September, the French advanced a few miles into the industrialized Saar region (as they did in 1923). They stopped as soon as they encountered their first real resistance in the form of German soldiers protected by mine fields, even though the 40 available French divisions outnumbered the German defenders by about 2 to 1.

A few days later, the French high command decided to withdraw, and fight a World War I-style defensive war. This decision was buttressed by the rapid fall of Poland, and the fact that it would have been too late for the French army to make its weight felt before the Germans were returned from the Polish front.

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    Correct me if I'm wrong but this sounds like it could have greatly nipped the war in the bud. I'm pretty sure it took Germany weeks to move their blitzkrieg forces from Poland to France. During or before that time, if France and UK had attacked, they would have effectively opened a two-front war right from the get-go instead of waiting for Germany to deal with adjacent countries one by one.
    – DrZ214
    Oct 8, 2015 at 3:20

A lot of actions took place during the Phoney War. They did not involve the bulk of the forces but should not actually be considered as peripheric.

First, in the air, I did not go deep but there wasno heavy air action as far as I know.

On the sea, French ships contributed to chasing down the Graf Von Spee "small battleship", a German boat that was attacking Allied trade. However, they did not manage to meet her, it was British boats that fought her in the end and forced him to sink herself.

And on land, during what is usually called the "Phoney War" in France, there was a military action. But it happened after the fall of Poland: Germany attacked Norway as a second offensive, and half a French brigade, British and Polish troops landed in Narvik and other coastal cities to try to... well it was not really clear but they tried to help the Norwegians. Despite initial success in Narvik, they ultimately had to fall back.


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