Nicholas Atkin
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The surveillance of exile
The Vichy consulates

As with so many of the groups making up the ‘forgotten French’, the Vichy consuls did not have a particularly happy time in Britain. They were under suspicion from the outset, and were always personae non gratae in the eyes of the Free French, the Spears Mission, and MI5 who worked tirelessly for their expulsion. Whether they truly constituted a threat to national security remains doubtful, otherwise they would surely have been expelled sooner. The greatest danger was posed in the summer of 1940 when there were numerous mission staff who had the financial wherewithal and propaganda facilities to undermine the morale of Gaullist volunteers. Such activities were abruptly halted, however, and only a limited number of individuals were involved. Thereafter, some consuls, especially in Liverpool, Newcastle, Cardiff, and London, clearly assisted with the repatriation of soldiers, forging papers and circumventing immigration procedures. They may also have collated intelligence, but it must have been difficult to have communicated this to their government.

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The forgotten French

Exiles in the British Isles 1940–44


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