Sink the French (ePub)
The victorious German Blitzkrieg assault on Holland, Belgium and Northern France placed Anglo-French relations under huge strain. The Vichy surrender raised real British fears that the Germans would force the French Fleet, the fourth largest in the world, to turn against their former ally, while in fact their orders were to scuttle in the event of the Germans attempting to seize them. Sink the French examines the background to the fall of France and its consequences, most particularly the way the French Navy was dealt with. It studies the confused situation that the chaos of devastating defeat created including the rise of a relatively junior French general, Charles de Gaulle who was smuggled out of France by the RAF on the night of 16/17 June. Elsewhere French ships were boarded and seized by the British, and at Oran their Fleet was bombarded by the Royal Navy. There were numerous other incidents with French aircraft bombing Gibraltar.
At the beginning of World War II the French faced the German invasion with 4,360 modern combat aircraft and 790 new machines currently arriving from French and American factories each month. When the phony war finally ended, some 119 of 210 squadrons were ready for action on the north-eastern front. The others were reequipping or stationed in the French colonies. Of the 119 squadrons France could bring into action only one-fourth of the aircraft were battle-ready. With France overrun by June 1940, what remained of the French air force was either concentrated in the unoccupied zone or had been…
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