Martin Thomas
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Territories divided, June-December 1940
in The French empire at war 1940–45
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The collapse of France's metropolitan forces during the second week of June 1940 was a calamity for the French empire. The French supreme commander, General Maurice Gamelin, was made the scapegoat for the German breakthrough and was dismissed in disgrace at the height of the battle on 19 May. French defeat in Europe was bound to make the preservation of imperial control more difficult, especially in North Africa. In Tunis, popular unease over the French defeat was fuelled by the intimidating shadow of neighbouring Italian Libya and the rapid arrival of Italian armistice commissioners in the capital. In June 1940, the British government soon lost the initiative in persuading the French colonies to continue the fight. In spite of the prevailing conservatism within French colonial administration, during July and early August converts to the Free French cause emerged in a number of French territories.

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