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Martin Thomas

’s true wishes, he was taking command. There is no way I can make my way through this labyrinth of contradictions. [Edouard Daladier, 17 November 1942 1 ] Operation Torch and the Darlan interlude The descent of General Eisenhower’s two-pronged invasion force

in The French empire at war 1940–45
Author: Martin Thomas

Between 1940 and 1945 the French empire divided against itself. This book presents the events in the French empire in the 1940s, and traces the period of wartime French imperial division, setting it within the wider international politics of the Second World War. It discusses the collapse of France's metropolitan forces during the second week of June 1940, which became a calamity for the French empire. The final breakdown of the Anglo-French alliance during the latter half of 1940 was played out on the African continent, in heavily defended French imperial territory of vital strategic importance to Allied communications. The Vichy empire lost ground to that of the Charles de Gaulle's Free French, something which has often been attributed to the attraction of the Gaullist mystique and the spirit of resistance in the colonies. Indo-China was bound to be considered a special case by the Vichy regime and the Free French movement. Between late 1940 and 1945, the French administration in Indo-China was forced by circumstances to plough a distinctive furrow in order to survive intact. The book discusses the St Pierre and Miquelon affair, and the invasion of Madagascar, and deals with the issue of nationalism in North Africa, before and after the Operation Torch. The contradiction between the French commitment to constitutional reform and the few colonial subjects actually affected by it was echoed in the wartime treatment of France's colonial forces.

Transnational resistance in Europe, 1936–48
Editors: Robert Gildea and Ismee Tames

This work demonstrates that resistance to occupation by Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy during the Second World War has to be seen through a transnational, not a national, lens. It explores how people often resisted outside their country of origin because they were migrants, refugees or exiles who were already on the move. It traces their trajectories and encounters with other resisters and explores their experiences, including changes of beliefs, practices and identities. The book is a powerful, subtle and thought-provoking alternative to works on the Second World War that focus on single countries or on grand strategy. It is a ‘bottom up’ story of extraordinary individuals and groups who resisted oppression from Spain to the Soviet Union and the Balkans. It challenges the standard chronology of the war, beginning with the formation of the International Brigades in Spain and following through to the onset of the Cold War and the foundation of the state of Israel. This is a collective project by a team of international historians led by Robert Gildea, author of Fighters in the Shadows: A New History of the French Resistance (Faber & Faber, 2015). These have explored archives across Europe, the USA, Russia and Israel in order to unearth scores of fascinating individual stories which are woven together into themed chapters and a powerful new interpretation. The book is aimed at undergraduates and graduates working on twentieth-century Europe and the Second World War or interested in the possibilities of transnational history.

Abstract only
Martin Thomas

the pragmatic, commonsense approach that the Allies claimed to be following. Before the launch of Operation Torch, Britain tried to undermine the Vichy empire through blockade, propaganda and limited covert action. But, unless strategic necessity intervened, as in the Syrian and Madagascan cases in 1941 and 1942, Churchill’s government avoided open confrontation with Vichy colonies after September

in The French empire at war 1940–45
Zdenko Maršálek and Diego Gaspar Celaya

1941 they were keen to fight again and were sought out by the nascent OSS.Their communism was still an issue, and they were not made officers. Goff later complained, ‘Everyone who graduated from the OSS school came out full lieutenants, captains, majors. All the Lincoln guys came out enlisted men. They considered us all communists. Because of Spain, we knew ten times more than any of the other guys’, he proudly boasted.52 OSS agents were landed in North Africa after Operation Torch. Their first task was to train former Spanish fighters released from Vichy’s camps

in Fighters across frontiers
St Pierre and Miquelon and the Madagascar invasion, 1942
Martin Thomas

– French Indo-China – receded further beyond Free French grasp once Japan’s advance through South East Asia gathered momentum at the start of the year. Though, the success of General Eisenhower’s North African landings under Operation Torch in early November 1942 brought about a rapid disintegratiQn of Vichy authority across French Africa as a whole, it is well to remember that for

in The French empire at war 1940–45
Karen Garner

, strictly policed by Frank Aiken, Fianna Fail’s muscleman who allowed no criticism of the government’s neutrality policy. Dillon was forced to resign from the Fine Gael party ten days later. 41 Additional American troops arrived in Northern Ireland throughout spring and summer 1942, preparing for “Operation Torch,” the Allied campaign in North Africa, reaching a peak of over 100,000 troops occupying bases at Belfast and Londonderry. With the Americans and their planes and weapons on site in the North, Britain’s fears of a

in Friends and enemies
Robert Mackay

of this factor can be seen in an entry from Mollie PanterDownes’s journal during the euphoria over the victory at El Alamein and the success of Operation Torch in Tunisia: ‘The British success effectually knocked on the head the dangerous notion that German arms and leadership are infallible … Today, though sensible Britons think there’s certain to be plenty of grimness ahead, for the first time they believe that sober reasons for hope are at last in sight.’26 The stimulus of good news upon the war effort is widely attested to – when J. B. Priestley wrote his novel

in Half the battle
Abstract only
Ismee Tames and Robert Gildea

German, Austrian and Jewish anti-fascists, was German. Meanwhile in North Africa, after Operation Torch, a new wave of foreign internees was released from Vichy’s camps and work battalions or deserted from the Foreign Legion to join the Corps Français d’Afrique. Composed of Spanish republicans, Yugoslavs, Dutch Jews and indigenous Muslims, it was initially deployed not with the French army but with the British and US armies, and later mostly joined the Free French. Very often foreigners were not happy in these regiments, chafing against the discipline, the sense of

in Fighters across frontiers
Martin Thomas

from May 1942, the President vilified French policies in Indo-China. His comments were often imprecise and were apparently thrown out in casual, almost scatter-gun fashion. But it seemed clear that Roosevelt could not be talked round by the State Department, let alone by any Gaullist delegation. 89 After Operation Torch in November 1942, French equipment requirements were

in The French empire at war 1940–45