For me, one of this biggest misconceptions is the myth of the cowardly French soldier. This view is highly related to myth that the French General Staff's reliance on the Maginot Line was foolish and led to France's rapid defeat in 1940. In reality, the Maginot Line did exactly what it was intended to do: prevent direct frontal assaults across the French-German boarder. Thus the German military was forced to make a grand flanking maneuver through Belgium, just as it had done in WWI. The uninformed often cite a failure to plan for this repetition as evidence of foolishness on the part of French leadership. However, nothing could be further from the truth. During the interwar years, the French and Belgian militaries developed a cooperative defensive strategy that involved French troops occupying positions prepared by the Belgian Army and flooding lowland regions to delay any German advance. Unfortunately, in 1940 Belgium remained neutral, and was therefore reluctant to provoke a German response by allowing French and BEF forces to move through its territory -- or even start preparing defensive potions. As a result, by the time the French Army and BEF were permitted to move into Belgium, the German military had stolen the initiative and was already on the offensive. The ultimate result was that the Allies were forced to fight an ad hoc defensive campaign, from improvised positions during the summer of 1940. Yet, irrespective of these strategic disadvantages, throughout the summer of 1940, French soldiers frequently displayed a level of courageousness that is hallmark of French military traditions. For example, during the Siege of Lille, 40,000 survivors of the 1ère Armée held a key junction on the approach to Dunkirk against a force of more than 100,000 Germans equipped with 800 tanks. The 1ère Armée was under continuous air and artillery attack, yet held out for five days, and only laid down its arms after exhausting virtually all its ammunition and having one-in-eight of its men killed. During this time approximately 250,000 troops were evacuated from the beaches of Dunkirk. More importantly though, without this stubborn defense, German forces would have bypassed Lille on May 28, before an inner defensive perimeter was established, and thus (probably) prevented Operation Dynamo!