In Assignment to Catastrophe, Edward Spears, Churchill’s liaison with the French government wrote in Chapter XVI Friday June 14th:
On we went, haunted by a fear of a breakdown. I wrote as best I could on my knees. A word or so every minute, as the jolting allowed, but listening to the sound of the engine all the time.
By now the roads were clear, but every town and village swarmed with people.
I passed several long French Air Force convoys, their planes on enormous floats. Well-fed officers in touring cars led the way. In most of the convoys I saw there were also cars in which sad ladies whose ample proportions and commanding looks proclaimed them to be wives of senior officers.
These processions, which I had met with everywhere on my journeyings, the advance-guard of the flying armies, filled me with anger and contempt. Why was the French Air Force on the ground instead of in the air with our lads, trying to beat the swarming Luftwaffe off the helpless infantry?
William L. Shirer, in The Collapse of the Third Republic, has a fascinating section on the disposition (or should that be “indisposition”) of the French Air Force in Chapter 29: The Battle of France 1: The Armies Close In, where he shows that the Allies actually had larger numbers of modern fighter planes (but fewer bombers) through much of the Battle of France, but details several instances of the French planes being effectively “hoarded” rather than deployed for combat.
Has there been any sensible explanation for this inability or unwillingness to use the strength of the French Air Force in the battle?