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Exiles in the British Isles 1940–44

It is widely assumed that the French in the British Isles during the Second World War were fully fledged supporters of General de Gaulle, and that, across the channel at least, the French were a ‘nation of resisters’. This study reveals that most exiles were on British soil by chance rather than by design, and that many were not sure whether to stay. Overlooked by historians, who have concentrated on the ‘Free French’ of de Gaulle, these were the ‘Forgotten French’: refugees swept off the beaches of Dunkirk; servicemen held in camps after the Franco-German armistice; Vichy consular officials left to cater for their compatriots; and a sizeable colonist community based mainly in London. Drawing on little-known archival sources, this study examines the hopes and fears of those communities who were bitterly divided among themselves, some being attracted to Pétain as much as to de Gaulle.

Open Access (free)
Janet Wolff

Isle of Man. The ‘internment of aliens’ – a peculiar and rather hysterical measure taken by the British government after Dunkirk. He had only been married for four months. But I suspect he really enjoyed the ironic freedom of that year. This is my father as an alien. He is alien to Britain and to English culture. Surrounded by those who are not alien to him, he is captured in an alien environment. And this image of him as the central figure is one which is entirely alien to me. His existence on the edges of my childhood, his refusal to engage with me or to challenge

in Austerity baby
Phil Hubbard

. Nowhere is Kent's militarised and defensive coastline more obvious than at Dover itself, where Britain's largest castle looms over the docks. Traditionally described as ‘the key to England’, its immense earthworks and walls enclose a Roman lighthouse, an impressive Norman keep and a labyrinthine series of defensive Napoleonic tunnels that were repurposed as military hospitals and command centres in both World Wars. Sold as part of the ‘White Cliffs Experience’, a series of multimedia exhibits describe how these tunnels were used to mastermind the 1940 Dunkirk evacuation

in Borderland
Robert Mackay

confounding of everyone’s expectations. If there was a problem of public morale it was nothing like that anticipated and prepared for. The Phoney War turned out to be but the first of four phases in the evolution of the problem, each phase having its distinct characteristics. After the eight months of relative inactivity there came a period of momentous events: the evacuation of the British Expeditionary Force at Dunkirk, the collapse of France, the threat of invasion, the Battle of Britain. This was followed by a period from September 1940 to May 1941 when London and

in Half the battle
Nationalism, universalism and Europe
John Carter Wood

after the military disasters in late spring and summer 1940 and, then, in the period after the crisis had passed. A final section explores how British identity was imagined within larger contexts. The Oldham group and the nation: from Oxford to Dunkirk While Christianity has a complex relationship to national identity, there has tended to be what John Baillie called ‘a positive relation between the Church and at least a nation’, particularly in the twentieth century. 3 But that relation was often contested. Inter-war ecumenism distinguished between a positive

in This is your hour
Abstract only
Doing good in Africa
Julia Gallagher

other as different, but also related. It is through mutual r­ ecognition that states become subjects. Mutual recognition and doing good in Africa New Labour’s was an era of the language of idealism in foreign policy, ­beginning with Robin Cook’s ‘ethical element’, and continuing through Blair’s ‘humanitarian wars’. It is at best questionable how far British subjectivity under New Labour was enhanced by war. Blair’s wars – among them inter­ventions in Kosovo, Sierra Leone, Afghanistan and Iraq – had a mixed record in terms of creating the ‘Dunkirk Spirit’ effect that

in Britain and Africa under Blair
Living spirituality

Between 1598 and 1800, an estimated 3, 271 Catholic women left England to enter convents on the Continent. This study focuses more particularly upon those who became Benedictines in the seventeenth century, choosing exile in order to pursue their vocation for an enclosed life. Through the study of a wide variety of original manuscripts, including chronicles, death notices, clerical instructions, texts of spiritual guidance, but also the nuns’ own collections of notes, this book highlights the tensions between the contemplative ideal and the nuns’ personal experiences. Its first four chapters adopt a traditional historical approach to illustrate the tensions between theory and practice in the ideal of being dead to the world. They offer a prosopographical study of Benedictine convents in exile, and show how those houses were both cut-off and enclosed yet very much in touch with the religious and political developments at home. The next fur chapters propose a different point of entry into the history of nuns, with a study of emotions and the senses in the cloister, delving into the textual analysis of the nuns’ personal and communal documents to explore aspect of a lived spirituality, when the body, which so often hindered the spirit, at times enabled spiritual experience.

Daniel Szechi

in Flanders, where the bulk of the army’s contribution to the French expeditionary force would come from, and in November at sea, by which time the great majority of the French naval forces raiding out of the Atlantic ports of Dunkirk, St Malo and Brest had returned to base. Michel Chamillart, Controller-General of Finances (until February 1708) and Secretary of State for War, who by autumn 1707 had finally bought in to the Enterprise of Scotland, surreptitiously moved six regiments of the French regular army (each with two battalions) into winter quarters situated

in Britain’s lost revolution?

Anglophobia in Fascist Italy traces the roots of Fascist Anglophobia from the Great War and through the subsequent peace treaties and its development during the twenty years of Mussolini’s regime. Initially, Britain was seen by many Italians as a ‘false friend’ who was also the main obstacle to Italy’s foreign policy aspirations, a view embraced by Mussolini and his movement. While at times dormant, this Anglophobic sentiment did not disappear in the years that followed, and was later rekindled during the Ethiopian War. The peculiarly Fascist contribution to the assessment of Britain was ideological. From the mid-1920s, the regime’s intellectuals saw Fascism as the answer to a crisis in the Western world and as irredeemably opposed to Western civilisation of the sort exemplified by Britain. Britain was described as having failed the ‘problem of labour’, and Fascism framed as a salvation ideology, which nations would either embrace or face decay. The perception of Britain as a decaying and feeble nation increased after the Great Depression. The consequence of this was a consistent underrating of British power and resolve to resist Italian ambitions. An analysis of popular reception of the Fascist discourse shows that the tendency to underrate Britain had permeated large sectors of the Italian people, and that public opinion was more hostile to Britain than previously thought. Indeed, in some quarters hatred towards the British lasted until the end of the Second World War, in both occupied and liberated Italy.

Briony Tallis and Atonement
Natasha Alden

to Dunkirk. The chaos and devastation on the road to the ports is described in intense, vivid detail. Robbie and his two companions have been separated from their unit, and must make their own way to the comparative safety of the coast; Robbie also has a shrapnel wound in his stomach, and develops septicaemia as he nears Dunkirk. Although he and one of his comrades make it to the beaches, Robbie is so ill by this point that when he reappears in Part Three, the reader is relieved to find that he hasn’t died. Part Three, like Part Two, moves far more quickly than

in Reading behind the lines