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Open Access (free)
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)
Nicholas Atkin

London. The British government had serious doubts about the reliability of French servicemen and their worth in battle. Yet, as will be seen, the reasons behind the failure to rally were far more complicated; and it is significant that the attitudes of many exiled servicemen reflected those of their comrades-in-arms in metropolitan France.8 Arriving: Narvik, Dunkirk, Compiègne and Oran In explaining why large numbers of French servicemen were to be found in Britain during the summer of 1940, it is necessary to read the roll call of Narvik, Dunkirk, Compiègne (where the

in The forgotten French
Open Access (free)
Nicholas Atkin

, marked out by their clothes, inability to speak English and the stigma of measly state handouts. As MassObservation observed, they were especially conspicuous in shops where the French habit of prodding food to test its freshness before purchase was seen as evidence of greed and ‘wanting a lot for their money’.4 French servicemen likewise retained a separate identity, arrested in ports at the time of the Armistice, and soon gathered together in makeshift camps, principally in the north of England where they were visited by Vichy consular officials, another group whose

in The forgotten French
Open Access (free)
Narratives of balance and moderation at the limits of human performance
Vanessa Heggie

incomers (such as ‘white’ and ‘negro’ sharecroppers and American soldiers, or Balan and Chaamba Arabs versus French servicemen). 69 While temperate and Arctic peoples were largely thought to have adapted to their environment using ingenuity and technology, those in tropical and subtropical areas were still depicted as surviving as a result of biology and superstitious, or at least irrational, custom. In this way, research into extreme physiology managed to maintain an imbalance – namely an established hierarchy of

in Balancing the self
Martin Thomas

that, for the foreseeable future, Free French servicemen would be supplied and paid for by monthly advances from the British Treasury. 5 The same Treasury coffers were made available to ensure the buoyancy of any colonies which rallied to de Gaulle. In practice, this meant that Free French territories could value their currencies against an agreed sterling rate, while the

in The French empire at war 1940–45

’t. This kind of remembering draws on the post-war trope of the soldier who has lost his memory. When in 1922 the Ministry of Pensions in France published a photograph of the amnesiac soldier Anthelme Mangin in national newspapers, dozens of families from among the 250,000 missing French servicemen came forward to claim the man as their own. 31

in Afterlives of war
Segregationist insights
Liora Bigon

. In Kayes, a few structures and the presence of only a small number of military and civilian French servicemen were enough to justify this name. 31 In the French colonial urban discourse, the Plateau was often regarded as the ‘European city’ ( ville européenne ) or ‘white city’ ( ville blanche ). The African quarter, on the other hand, was referred to as the ‘African

in French colonial Dakar
Abstract only
The empire and international crisis in the 1930s
Martin Thomas

chasseurs d’Afrique (cavalry), in which French volunteers predominated. French servicemen could thus be reassigned to metropolitan regiments, allowing thorough ‘Africanisation’ of the Armée d’Afrique in terms of composition and strategic role. In short, Lyautey wanted a Maghreb army uniquely trained and preserved for North African defence. 42 Arguments

in The French empire between the wars
Scott Soo

insisted that the refugee workers/soldiers were subject to equal conditions as French servicemen. And yet, Vichy made no effort with the German authorities for the Spanish republicans to be recognised as part of the French military, and hence subject to the same treatment as French prisoners of war in accordance with international law. There is no doubting Vichy’s desire to see the back of the Spanish refugees, hence the regime’s interest in repatriation to Spain and re-emigration to Mexico.10 However, neither strategy was particularly successful. The Francoist

in The routes to exile
The Vichy consulates
Nicholas Atkin

, when most non-Free French servicemen had been repatriated, that real efforts were made to improve life in these barracks. Thus it may well have been that, in his complaints about Chartier, Muselier was exercising a more general frustration about recruitment. This did not stop yet another round of enquiries into the activities of the consuls, although once again this produced little incriminating evidence. For instance, in January 1941 the Cardiff police filed a report on Pierre Chesnais, the local attaché in the city.116 A professional diplomat, he had first served

in The forgotten French