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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.

Martin Thomas

was deliberately excluded from direct blockade for fear of the likely Japanese reaction. In short, where applied with vigour, the British blockade was a real threat to the Vichy empire. As Pétain admitted in October, the revitalisation of economic activity within loyal African colonies largely depended upon how much maritime tonnage could get through the blockade on a monthly

in The French empire at war 1940–45
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
St Pierre and Miquelon and the Madagascar invasion, 1942
Martin Thomas

empire, the best defended and the most rigorously controlled. After the loss of Syria and Lebanon, the pace of Vichy empire collaboration quickened. In December 1940 the Secretariat of Marine operations division had imposed a blanket ban upon assaults against British or Free French African territory, other than in response to a prior attack. In the week following the Syrian

in The French empire at war 1940–45
Martin Thomas

Algiers as Delegate-general for Vichy Africa. The effort to turn General Weygand formed part of a wider Anglo-American attempt to undermine the Vichy empire by more subtle means than Britain’s previously straightforward support for pro-de Gaulle dissidents. This confronted Free France with a dilemma. How could de Gaulle and his followers determine British and US policy towards the

in The French empire at war 1940–45
Martin Thomas

Decoux’s government was the most actively repressive within the Vichy empire. Ironically, before the task of pacification in Tonkin was anywhere near complete, Decoux faced another source of foreign aggression. The French mounted fierce resistance in a brief campaign during November- December 1940 against a Thai invasion west of the Mekong river. The Vichy troika of Darlan

in The French empire at war 1940–45