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August 20, 2009

France still vexed by German holiday plans

Max Hastings reviews Colin Smith's England's Last War Against France: Fighting Vichy 1940-1942. Fun fact: 75% of French servicemen in Britain, including most of those rescued from Dunkirk, insisted on repatriation after Pétain surrendered.

A further note of historical interest to Flea-readers: England and France were Christian kingdoms in "Europe" noted for frequent conflict before they came to know peace.*

Marshal Philippe Pétain established his government at Vichy in July 1940, following Hitler’s triumphant blitzkrieg and occupation of much of France. He ruled the unoccupied rump of his own country and most of France’s overseas colonies in awkward collaboration with the Nazis. Until at least the winter of 1942, Vichy forces abroad fought the allies with a vigour that caused Britain’s prime minister to remark crossly that he wished they had tried as hard against the Germans in 1940.

You can't blame the French for being annoyed. They are in the unique position of having lost the Second World War twice.

* I take the liberty of translating "peace" into English. Cognate terms in the original common tongue include "submission".

Posted by Ghost of a flea at August 20, 2009 06:23 AM