UK and France holding out in Brittany in 1940

Discussion in 'WW2 General' started by ivanotter, Mar 9, 2011.

  1. ivanotter

    ivanotter Member

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    Reading up on Bryant's book on Brooke, I came across the idea of France (Weygand and George) holding on to Brittany in 1940 (mid June 1940).

    Both Weygand and George thought it romantic and "way out". Brooke was not keen on it either, but was told it was government policy, apparantly coming down from the Inter-allied council.

    16 June Brooks talks to Dill and gets the message that no such policy is in place.

    I have not found any references to this, really.

    Who came up with that idea? Who was on the Inter-allied council? Why did Dill not know about it?

    Any clever people out there?

    Ivan
     
  2. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    I don't know,but when the going gets tough the army traditionally headed for the nearest port and the help of the navy! There are historical precedents to Dunkirk,Calais in medieval times and later La Coruna spring to mind. There are many more. It would also be repeated several times later in the war,for example Sphakia and Heraklion as we got the hell off Crete.
    I think this was part of the British military mind set.
    Cheers
    Steve
     
  3. mikewint

    mikewint Well-Known Member

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    #3 mikewint, Mar 9, 2011
    Last edited: Mar 9, 2011
    I am assuming you mean Field Marshal The Rt. Hon. Sir Alan Francis Brooke, 1st Viscount Alanbrooke. Following the outbreak of World War II, Brooke commanded II Corps in the British Expeditionary Force—which included in its subordinate formations the 3rd Division, commanded by the then Major-General Bernard Montgomery. As corps commander Brooke had a pessimistic view of the Allies' chances of countering a German offensive. He was skeptical of the quality and determination of the French Army. He had also little trust in Lord Gort, the commander of the British Expeditionary Force, whom Brooke thought too much interested in details and incapable of taking a broad strategic view. Gort, on the other hand, regarded Brooke as a pessimist who failed to spread confidence, and was thinking of replacing him.
    When the German offensive began Brooke distinguished himself in the handling of the British forces in the retreat to Dunkirk. In late May 1940 the Corps held the major German attack on the Ypres-Comine Canal but then found its left flank exposed by the capitulation of the Belgian army. Brooke swiftly ordered 3rd Division to switch from the Corps' right flank to cover the gap. This was accomplished in a complicated night-time maneuver. Pushing more troops north to counter the threat to the embarking troops at Dunkirk from German units advancing along the coast, II Corps retreated to Dunkirk where on 29 May Brooke was ordered to return to England, leaving the Corps in Montgomery's hands.
    Shortly after the evacuation from Dunkirk he was again sent to France to take command of the remaining British troops in the country. Brooke soon realized that the situation was untenable and in his first conversation with the Prime Minister Winston Churchill he insisted that all British forces should be withdrawn from France. Churchill initially objected but was soon convinced by Brooke and around 200,000 British and Allied troops were successfully evacuated from ports in northwestern France. So no matter what the initial hopes had been for holding on to a piece of France it was simply not possible at the time.
    By Dill, I assume you mean Field Marshal Sir John Greer Dill, who from May 1940 to December 1941 was the Chief of the Imperial General Staff, the professional head of the British Army. Dating from WWI he was seen as something of a dinosaur and was poorly regarded by both Winston Churchill and Leslie Hore-Belisha, Minister for War, Dill was eventually posted as commander of I Corps in France on 3 September 1939 and was promoted to full general on 1 October 1939 (with seniority backdated to 5 December 1937). On returning to the UK in April 1940, Dill was appointed Vice Chief of the Imperial General Staff (and a member of the Army Council), under CIGS William Ironside, by the then Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain. On 27 May 1940, after Chamberlain had been replaced by Churchill, Dill replaced Ironside as CIGS.
    I find nothing about a British “policy” of holding onto a piece of France and once Winston had been convinced the CIGS would have been over ruled in any case.
     
  4. ivanotter

    ivanotter Member

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    Mike, That's the thing.

    Brooke claims (14 June) that he was told by Weygand and George that it was decided by the Inter-allied Council. Now Brooke probably wouldn't have just rolled over and played dead insofar as he didn't really trust Weygand. They must have shown him something.

    In any event, Brooke signs the order to concentrate in Brittany.

    16 June, talking to Dill, he gets the news that no such policy is in place and he therefore assumes he is not a part of Weygand's 10th army anymore.

    Where did this entire idea come from? Weygand and George thought it romantic, Brooke was not interested either. Where did the Inter-allied council meet?


    On Gort/Booke: No love lost, really. Brooke did overstep it insofar as he assumed control (if not command) of I corps. BUT: He saved the day.

    Ivan
     
  5. michaelmaltby

    michaelmaltby Well-Known Member

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    GREAT post mikewint. :)

    MM
     
  6. mikewint

    mikewint Well-Known Member

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    Thanks Michael
    Ivan, I am having problems with the term Allied Council. Exactly who the Allied powers were, varied with time and Hitler’s conquests.
    With regard to Great Britain, on 25 August 1939, two days after the Nazi-Soviet Pact, the Polish-British Common Defense Pact was signed. The treaty contained promises of mutual military assistance between the nations in the event either was attacked by another European country. The United Kingdom, sensing a dangerous trend of German expansionism, sought to prevent German aggression by this show of solidarity. In a secret protocol of the pact, the United Kingdom only actually offered assistance in the case of an attack on Poland specifically by Germany, though both the United Kingdom and Poland were bound not to enter agreements with any other third countries which were a threat to the other. Because of the pact's signing, Hitler postponed his planned invasion of Poland from August 26 until September 1.
    As far as the French were concerned, a new alliance had been signed in 1939. The so-called Kasprzycki-Gamelin Convention signed May 19, 1939 in Paris which obliged both countries to provide military help to each other in case of a war with Nazi Germany. In May Gamelin promised a "bold relief offensive" within three weeks of German's attack. Later staff talks and consultation between both armies' commands were also included in the treaty. Finally, it was enhanced with a political convention, signed in Paris on September 4, 1939.
    Despite all the obligations of the treaties, France provided only token help to Poland during the Polish Defensive War of 1939, in the form of the Saar Offensive. While some consider this to be an example of Western betrayal, the political part of it was a basis of the recreation of the Polish Army in France in 1939.
    After June 1940, the rump state Vichy France received diplomatic recognition by the major part of the international community, including the government of the United States. Free France was a government-in-exile recognized, between major Allies, only by Britain.
    The Netherlands became an Allied member after being invaded in 1940 by Germany.
    The Oslo Group was an organization of officially neutral countries. Four members later joined the Allies, as governments in exile: the Kingdom of Norway, the Kingdom of the Netherlands, the Kingdom of Belgium and the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg.
    The Republic of Finland was attacked by the USSR on 30 November 1939. The war was concluded in March 1940 with Finland ceding 12% of its territory. The uneasy Interim Peace that followed held for a little over a year. Since 25 June 1941 Finland was again engaged in the war against the Soviet Union and in November 1941 signed the renewed Anti-Comintern Pact together with the Germany-occupied Kingdom of Denmark.
    The Kingdom of Sweden remained officially neutral. Following the Moscow armistice of September 1944, Finland effectively helped the Allies and expelled German forces. This led to a series of armed campaigns called the Lapland War.
    Denmark was invaded by Germany on 9 April 1940. The Danish government did not declare war and it surrendered the same day, on the understanding that it retains control of domestic affairs, but it was disbanded by Germany in 1943. No government-in-exile was formed and Danes fought with both Allied and Axis forces.
    As June began, the situation in France was bleak for the Allies which, at this point in time, would have consisted basically of the British and French. Operation Dynamo at Dunkirk had evacuated much of the fighting elements of the British Expeditionary Force, but some combat units from 1st Armored Division and Beauman Division and more than 150,000 support and line-of-communication troops had been cut-off to the south by the German “dash to the sea”. In addition, the 52nd (Lowland) Division and the 1st Canadian Division had been rushed to France to bolster the defense of the west of the country. All these forces became known as the “Second BEF” and General Sir Alan Brooke was returned from England to command them. Upon his arrival on 13 June, he quickly realized that there was no chance of success for them and that the French plan to fall back and make a stand in Brittany was unrealistic. Accordingly, in a telephone call on the evening of 14 June, he was able to persuade the British Prime Minister, Winston Churchill that all the British troops in France ought to be disengaged and evacuated.
     
  7. ivanotter

    ivanotter Member

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    Whether Brooke was "double-dealing" or not, he signed the document on the Brittany scheme in the morning 14 June, but at the same time ordered Howard-Wyse to fly back to Dill and inform him that the only course open was to stop sending any further troops and to instruct him (Brooke) to evacuate the rest.

    He phoned Dill at 4pm 14 June and told him that the Brittany scheme is "a wild project". Dill responds that he has not heard of the Brittany scheme and that he - Dill - will call back later.

    Dill later informs Brooke that the Brittany scheme was off and that he - Brooke - was to proceed with the embarkation and NOT under orders of French 10th army. Brooke requests Dill to inform Weygand , as Brooke at that point, still considers himself under the orders of Weygand. Dill promises to do so.

    Later at night Brooke get the call from Churchill who is "bullying" Brooke, letting him know that it is important to make the French feel that they are supported. Broke responds that it is not possible to let an army "feel" anything and in any event the French army is dead.

    Finally, Churchil agrees.

    Now, who came up with the Brittany scheme? This Inter-allied Council is mentioned often by Brooke, but i can't find any references to it.

    Help!
     
  8. mikewint

    mikewint Well-Known Member

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    Ivan, I have been researching this issue and have found a partial answer. I believe that the council you mentioned is the SWC Supreme War Council formed in 1939 between Britain and France. As to the retreat into Brittany I can find nothing. The French Government headed south not west finely ending up in Vichy.
    So as to the SWC and its members:
    The Anglo French Supreme War Council, sometimes known as the Supreme War Council (SWC), was established to oversee joint military strategy at the start of the Second World War. Most of its deliberations took place during the period of the Phoney War. The final three sessions were held in France (Paris, Briare and Tours).
    On 31 May 1940, Churchill flew to Paris for a meeting of the SWC, this time with Clement Attlee and Generals John Dill and Hastings Ismay. Discussions were held at the French Ministry of War on the deteriorating military situation with a French delegation consisting of Reynaud, Philippe Pétain and Maxime Weygand. Also present was Churchill's personal representative to the French Prime Minister, General Sir Edward Spears. Three main points were considered: Narvik, the Dunkirk evacuation and the prospect of an Italian invasion of France. Reynaud complained that at the evacuation, Operation Dynamo, more British troops had been taken off than French. Churchill promised to do everything to redress the balance. During discussions after the meeting, a group formed around Churchill, Pétain and Spears. One of the French officials mentioned the possibility of a separate surrender. Speaking to Pétain, Spears pointed out that such an event would provoke a blockade of France by Britain and the bombardment of all French ports in German hands. Churchill declared that Britain would fight on whatever happened.
    On June 4, Churchill addressed Parliament, where he spelled out clearly, to his country and to the world, the intent of England to carry on the war. At the same time, Italian Duce Benito Mussolini was directing his forces to plan for the invasion of Southern France. The entry of Italy into the war on the side of Germany was a blatant attempt to grab French spoils. Hitler asked Mussolini to postpone until June 10. At midnight Italy declared war on England and France and her armies moved into Southern France.
    On 11/12 June at the Chateau du Muguet near Briare where the French army headquarters had withdrawn, Winston Churchill, Anthony Eden, General Sir John Dill (Chief of the Imperial General Staff), General Ismay and other staff officers, including General Sir Edward Spears, met the French leader Reynaud and his cabinet. They had been forced to leave Paris by the advancing Germans. The meeting took place at the chateau which was HQ of General Maxime Weygand. Also present was General Charles de Gaulle; Spears had not met him before and was impressed with his bearing. As wrangling continued over the level of support from Britain, Spears suddenly became aware that 'the battle of France was over and that no one believed in miracles'. The next day Weygand's catastrophic account of the military situation reinforced his pessimism. Despite assurances from Admiral Darlan, the British were worried that the powerful French fleet might fall into German hands.
    The final meeting of the Anglo French Supreme War Council took place at the Préfecture in Tours on 13 June. The British delegation – Churchill, Lord Halifax, Lord Beaverbrook, Sir Alexander Cadogan and General ‘Pug’ Ismay - were joined by Major General Louis Spears. The French Prime Minister, Paul Reynaud, was accompanied by Paul Baudoin, a member of the War Committee. Spears found the atmosphere quite different from that at Briare, where Churchill had expressed good will, sympathy and sorrow; now it was like a business meeting, with the British keenly appraising the situation from its own point of view. Reynaud declared that unless immediate help was assured by the USA, the French government would have to give up the struggle. He acknowledged that the two countries had agreed never to conclude a separate peace – but France was physically incapable of carrying on. The news was received by the British with shock and horror. Churchill said with determination, "We must fight, we will fight, and that is why we must ask our friends to fight on." Prime Minister Reynaud acknowledged that Britain would continue the war, affirming that France would also continue the struggle from North Africa, if necessary - but only if there were a chance of success. That success could come only if America were prepared to join the fray. The French leader called for British understanding, asking again for France to be released from her obligation not to conclude a separate peace now that she could do no more.
    The day ended in confusion - Churchill flew back to London without speaking to the French cabinet, as had been promised by Reynaud. The ministers were dismayed and angry; Spears was depressed, realizing that 'an opportunity that might not recur had been missed'. He was at a loss to understand why a meeting had not taken place - had Reynaud simply forgotten? Did Reynaud wish to explain the situation to the ministers himself? In any event, his ministers were disillusioned and felt abandoned. Spears believed that this event played its part in swaying the majority of the cabinet towards surrender. He was sure that 'by the night of 13 June, the possibility of France remaining in the war had almost disappeared'. The only hope rested on the decision of President Roosevelt - would America now join the war?
    On June 14, without any reserves to stream out to meet the enemy as in 1914, Paris surrendered and was occupied by the Germans. Pétain and Weygand formed a new government, seeking to gain an armistice, on June 16.
    De Gaulle escaped by plane to England, fearful that the new collaborationist government would arrest him. On June 18 De Gaulle addressed all of France on BBC radio: “France is not alone!” and proclaimed himself leader of the exile force of Free French. Vichy collaborators condemned him to death.
    Darlan did not follow through on his pledge to sail the French Fleet to British ports. British units cajoled, coerced, or attacked and eliminated the French Navy all over Europe and North Africa. The French Navy was incorporated into Allied control or nullified. This engendered great resentment as the two Allies became belligerent themselves.
    On June 18 Churchill addressed Parliament: “What General Weygand called the Battle of France is over. The Battle of Britain is about to begin.” Pétain asked for an armistice on June 22, 1940.
     
  9. freebird

    freebird Active Member

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    Actually they were also landing additional forces, the Canadians were to form part of the army but was re-embarked before they got into combat.

    Largely correct.

    Not necessarily, the PM is relying on the advice of his ground commander, which was different than the situation he envisioned.

    Barker was unable to command I corps in an effective manner, he was removed from command and Alexander took over, so it's hardly surprising that Brooke did what he did.

    Keep in mind that the French leadership during this period was in chaos, with discussions both pro/con for union with the UK and an armistice (or continue the fight in N. Africa. Reynaud actually quit on the 16th. So it's no surprise that with more important matters to deal with the Brittany operation's planning was somewhat muddled. The fact that Petain some of the cabinet wanted to quit the war is a major reason for the lack of enthusiasm for this operation on the part of the French
     
  10. mikewint

    mikewint Well-Known Member

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    Freebird, pretty much agreed, I think most of this is covered in post #8. The British were quite surprised that France was willing to void their initial agreement not to seek a separate peace consequently the British attitude shift during the last SWC meeting in Tours. By 13 June Winston realized that France was lost and Britian stood alone and it was time to take care of #1, hence his refusal to send more troops/aircraft into the French meatgrinder
    As to the French Plan to fall back on Brittany I only located one reference to it. Weygland dispersed his forces north to protect Paris and when that failed the French government fled south rather than west into Brittany.
    As to the co-ordination, when the composition of the SWC was decided, the Commander-in-Chief of the British Expeditionary Force, Lord Gort was not a member; yet his French counterpart, General Maurice Gamelin was. In the view of General Edward Louis Spears the failure to include the British C-in-C was a mistake: 'No government should ever lose effective touch with the commander of its army.'
     
  11. mikewint

    mikewint Well-Known Member

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    Ivan, diligence has finally paid off. The fall back on Brittany Plan was indeed French, originating with Paul Reynaud and Charles DeGaulle as the premier and the general struggled to keep France in the fight during the tragic days following Dunkirk. Reynaud first suggested a removal of the government to Brittany when General Weygand informed him of the imminent threat to Paris posed by German attacks along the Somme on June 5, 1940. The idea was quickly dismissed. Weygand called the peninsula a place of no military value and Marshal Petain concurred. The Chief of the Armies and the hero of Verdun insisted the battle was lost and it was time for France to strike a bargain with the enemy. Weygand expressed a fervent hope that the victors would permit him to retain enough troops to suppress the true enemy, the communists and socialists. It was a position they would maintain through out the ordeal.
    Two days later with German pressure about to force the French line, Reynaud remained insistent that the fight continue even if Paris should fall. Weygand addressed the cabinet and demanded to know how the fight could be carried on in such an event. He reminded them that the Paris region produced 70% of French arms. The Premier again called for a last stand in Brittany and again Weygand dismissed the idea calling it a fantasy. Petain insisted it was time to request an armistice.
    By June 10th the Germans were less than 40 miles from the capital. It was now time for the government to depart or face capture. The cabinet met to discuss the flight. Reynaud again urged his generals to prepare for a last stand in Brittany. "It’s a waste of time", Weygand testily retorted. Privately, Weygand opined that the idea was a bad joke. He blamed DeGaulle for, "pushing the premier into this fantasy of a Breton redoubt".
    The next morning, Degaulle met with Reynaud in Tours. He argued for the Breton Redoubt at length and persuasively. He explained how the narrow hilly terrain of the peninsula would lend itself to anti-tank defense. He extolled its proximity to England as offering the best chance for procuring supplies and support from the RAF and the British and French fleets. The French armies in Brittany and the Vosges would have a chance to regroup while the Germans were thinking twice about entering the gap between them. The fight would go on. The Premier seemed convinced. He authorized preparations for a move to Quimper but the cabinet continued to support a move to Bordeaux and the Quimper plan was scuttled that afternoon.
    On the evening of June 12th, the Premier and his cabinet met with President LeBrun to discuss the worsening military situation. Reynaud expressed his determination to carry on preferably from a redoubt in Brittany or Algeria if necessary. "The Breton redoubt exists only in the mind of the Premier. There are no troops left to defend it." replied Weygand. Petain concurred and proceeded to lecture the President and his ministers on their duty to remain on French soil. The government would leave for Bordeaux on the morning of June 14th.
    The redoubt was not to be but a part of DeGaulle and Reynaud’s last desperate effort was played out on the Breton stage. DeGaulle began the final and ultimately tragic weekend with a drive to Brittany where he boarded a destroyer for England where he hoped to arrange support for a move to Algiers. On Sunday afternoon he telephoned the Premier and informed him of Churchill’s offer of political and economic union with Great Britain. Reynaud was ecstatic and agreed to meet the Prime Minister the following day on a ship anchored off Concarneau. The cabinet’s response was less enthusiastic. The offer was rejected and a motion to request the terms of an armistice was adopted by a vote of 13 to 10. Reynaud tendered his resignation and the meeting adjourned at 10 p.m. The now former premier met with the British ambassador a short while later. Reynaud appeared to be losing his grip on reality. After announcing the decision, he speculated on the prospects of Petain providing him with a plane to take him to the rendezvous with Churchill. General Spears replied curtly, "Tomorrow there will be another government and you will no longer speak for anyone. The meeting has been cancelled." DeGaulle was the next to hear the news. He had returned to Bordeaux at 9.30 p.m. on a British plane. DeGaulle informed Reynaud of his decision to continue the war from England and was given 100,000 francs from a secret fund. Reynaud also agreed to arrange for the departure of the general’s family. The general left the next morning on a British plane.
     
  12. ivanotter

    ivanotter Member

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    Mike, thanks a ton. This is great info. I have also tried to get in on this allied council without any luck.

    Amazing info. I did not know half of this story in terms of the French government and De Gaule. I will admit that this Brittany scheme looked a bit strange to me, especially with Brooke and Dill not knowing anything about it, Brooke being "seduced" into it as a political decision.

    Thanks to everybody for the tenacity on this strange subject, and especially to Mike for deep research.

    Ivan
     
  13. Shortround6

    Shortround6 Well-Known Member

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    thank you Mike.
     
  14. mikewint

    mikewint Well-Known Member

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    No problem guys, my head is at that point in time where I think I remember stuff but don't remember where or when so some times it takes a bit of time, skull sweat and digging. Don't know a whole lot about airplanes but history I dig
     
  15. parsifal

    parsifal Well-Known Member

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    yes, the original concept was from Reynaud, never really supported by Weygand, Petain was hostile toward it. Churchill was a rather desperate character at this time, and blew hot and cold on the issue, though I am unsure i think its successful implementation, from a british perspective would have been dependant on the french accepting the union proposal.

    A possibility far more promising, but surprisingly never even considered by the french, was a government in exile, based in north Africa. Reynaud pondered its legality fitfully from 5 June to about 14 June, but increasingly he was opposed by his cabinet. in particular, the future leaders of Vichy ....Petain, Weygand and Laval, worked tirelessly to undermine his authority. Petain and Weygand were determined that maximum blame for the defeat they now were certain of would be shifted onto the civil administration and not the army.

    Petain was the worst. Openly defeatist, and hostile to all British attempts to get continued resistance out of the French, he became increasingly hostile toward any attempt at continued resistance. He rejected British suggestions at union as "walking with a corpse", and seemed to assume that if France surendered, Britain would be forced to follow suit. I would love to know his reaction or thought processes as the British continued to resist, and eventually defeat the Nazis. It must have gauled him , as an arrogant and vain man to know just how wrong he had been.

    Continued resistance by the french was really defeated with the collapse in self confidence by Reynaud. immediately after his resignation 15 June Petain put out the peace feelers, and vetoed all attempts to relocatre french military assets and government instruments to the colonies. One has to wonder what would have happened if Reynaud had found the fortitude to dismiss Weygand and Petain, arrrest Laval, elevate DeGaulle and evacuate as much manpower and equipment to French North Africa as possible. If this had commenced around 5 June, it is likley that about 25 divs or so, the entire french fleet and most of the air force could have been saved. This would have placed the Italians in a world of hurt, saved French honour, and shortened the war in the med considerably. Instead the grotesque spectacle of vichy arose to torment the French people and alienate her from the western allies.
     
  16. freebird

    freebird Active Member

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    Churchill was willing to go along with almost any proposal to encourage the French to continue the fight (ultimately in North Africa of course)
     
  17. ivanotter

    ivanotter Member

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    A lot of good info coming in.

    It does put all the characters into a different light.

    Yours,
     
  18. mikewint

    mikewint Well-Known Member

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    Henri Philippe Benoni Omer Joseph Pétain was reactionary by temperament and education, and quickly began blaming the Third Republic and its endemic corruption for the French defeat. In its place now came the new, more authoritarian regime. The republican motto of "Liberté, égalité, fraternité" was swept aside and replaced with "Travail, famille, patrie" (Work, family, fatherland.) As a result Pétain collaborated actively with the German occupying forces. Vichy forces refused to surrender or save the fleet at Mers-el-Kebir for the Allies and fought the Allied invasion of French-controlled Syria and Lebanon in June–July 1941, with just above 15% of the resulting prisoners of war electing to join Free French forces while the others were repatriated to metropolitan France to be demobilized. However, the military ties with Germany weakened over time. The Vichy-mandated Scuttling of the French fleet in Toulon stands in contrast to the Mers-el-Kebir episode of two years earlier, and the Vichy French forces put up limited resistance to the Allied invasion of North Africa, with more commanders and units in Africa joining the Free French forces. The Vichy leaders collaborated as far as ordering the French police and the local milice to go on raids to capture Jews and other minorities considered "undesirables" by Germany as well as political opponents and members of the Resistance, thus helping enforce German policy in occupied zones. Vichy also promulgated its own, German-inspired laws and policies that restricted political freedom and took rights away from foreigners and racial minorities.
    The legitimacy of Vichy France and Pétain's leadership was constantly challenged by the exiled General Charles de Gaulle, who claimed to represent the legitimacy and continuity of the French government. Public opinion turned against the Vichy regime and the occupying German forces over time, and resistance to them grew within France. Following the Allies' invasion of France in Operation Overlord, de Gaulle proclaimed the Provisional Government of the French Republic (GPRF) in June 1944. After the Liberation of Paris in August, the GPRF installed itself in Paris on 31 August. The GPRF was recognized as the legitimate government of France by the Allies on 23 October 1944.
    On 20 August 1944, the Vichy officials and chief supporters were moved to Sigmaringen in Germany and there established a government in exile, headed by Fernand de Brinon, until early April 1945. Most of the Vichy regime's leaders were subsequently sentenced by the GPRF and a number of them were executed.
    De Gaulle's provisional government placed Pétain on trial, which took place from 23 July to 15 August 1945, for treason. He remained silent throughout most of the proceedings, after an initial statement which also denied the right of the High Court, as presently constituted, to try him. De Gaulle himself was later to criticize the trial, saying: "Too often, the discussions took on the appearance of a partisan trial, sometimes even a settling of accounts, when the whole affair should only have been treated from the point of view of national defense and independence."
    At the end of his trial, the three judges proposed Pétain's acquittal on all the charges laid against him. Furthermore, their joint advice and their own votes went against the death penalty, which in the event was passed by a majority of only one jury member, that of Louis Prot, the Communist deputy for the Somme. Maréchal Pétain was condemned to death by firing squad, though on account of his great age (89), the Court asked that the verdict should not be executed. De Gaulle, who was President of the Provisional Government of the French Republic at the end of the war, commuted it to life imprisonment on the grounds of Pétain's age and his World War I contributions.
    Pétain was nevertheless stripped of all his military ranks and honors except that of Maréchal (because Maréchal is a distinction conferred by a special personal law passed by the French Parliament, and under the principle of separation of powers a court does not have the power to reverse a law passed by Parliament). De Gaulle, fearing riots at the announcement of the sentence, had Pétain removed immediately, on his (de Gaulle's) own private aircraft, to Fort du Portalet in the Pyrenees, where he remained from 15 August to 16 November 1945. Later he was sent to be imprisoned in the Forte de Pierre citadel on the Île d'Yeu, an island off the Atlantic coast, where he soon became entirely senile, and required constant nursing care. He died on Île d'Yeu in 1951,
     
  19. ivanotter

    ivanotter Member

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    French politics shortly after the liberation was a mess.

    The treatment of Petain was shabby but maybe understandable at that time.

    Come to look at Brooke's actions in the light of the 1944 Frenchg campaign.

    Brooke was not impressed by Eisenhower's strategic and military abilities.

    Brooke was offerd the job as supreme commander by Chruchill, but Churchill had to go back on his word, due to US pressure.

    Would Brooke have finished the European war in September 1944? After all, he advocated a concentration of forces and a dash at Ruhr and (ultimately) Berlin.

    By looking at the numbers, it looked feasible and with Monty as the driver on the Northern front, they would have had (maybe) the chance of finishing t off in 1944.

    Against that, Monty was not a lightning fast mover. Maybe if they had supported Bradley's thrust instead?

    It has probably been discussed before, but any comments on Brooke's ideas. Was it "sour grapes" or reality? could he have finished it off?

    Ivan
     
  20. michaelmaltby

    michaelmaltby Well-Known Member

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    ".... French politics shortly after the liberation was a mess."

    :)

    MM
     
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