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February 05, 2010

Operation Catapult

When The Daily Mail publishes this sort of twaddle, what hope is there for England?

French sailor Andre Jaffre still shakes with emotion as he recalls the moment in July 1940 that the enemy opened fire on his battleship, the Bretagne. 'A shell exploded underneath, where there were munitions and a fuel store. I saw a friend who'd had his head blown off. His blood dripped off me. I wanted to be sick.'

Moments later, the Bretagne capsized. 'The water was black with oil that was smoking and bubbling, like a chip pan, and men were struggling and screaming in it. But I had to jump in. I fell into that oil and I let myself sink, sink, sink. I was so burned.'

Jaffre had joined the navy determined to fight the Nazis. But the shells that rained down on him that morning were not German ones. They were British, fired by men that Jaffre knew well.

'Only two weeks before, we'd been with the British in Gibraltar, out on the town,' he says, 'and then suddenly they're firing on us. It was unthinkable.' Jaffre's comrade Leon Le Roux remembers the same shock. 'Today we're allies, tomorrow we're enemies. The reasons for it? For that see Sir Winston Churchill.'

No. The reasons for that? The French Navy, preferring to side with Vichy and the Nazis than man it up and fight the war (though I realize to ask such a thing is to mock a French disability and in so doing risk bringing Vichy and the Nazis into hatred and contempt).

Well, they got to fight the Royal Navy instead and, at the time, that still meant only one thing.

Posted by Ghost of a flea at February 5, 2010 09:23 AM