England’s Last War Against France: Fighting Vichy 1940-42

From the publisher:

Most people think that England’s last war with France involved point-blank broadsides from sailing ships and breastplated Napoleonic cavalry charging red-coated British infantry. But there was a much more recent conflict than this. Under the terms of its armistice with Nazi Germany, the unoccupied part of France and its substantial colonies were ruled from the spa town of Vichy by the government of Marshal Philip Petain. Between July 1940 and November 1942, while Britain was at war with Germany, Italy and ultimately Japan, it also fought land, sea and air battles with the considerable forces at the disposal of Petain’s Vichy French. When the Royal Navy sank the French Fleet at Mers El-Kebir almost 1,300 French sailors died in what was the twentieth century’s most one-sided sea battle. British casualties were nil. It is a wound that has still not healed, for undoubtedly these events are better remembered in France than in Britain. An embarrassment at the time, France’s maritime massacre and the bitter, hard-fought campaigns that followed rarely make more than footnotes in accounts of Allied operations against Axis forces. Until now.

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