123: Sinking of the French Fleet
Today marks the 75th anniversary of the sinking of the French Fleet by the British in World War II.
Here are some things you may not have known about the action.
First, the British sank the fleet after the Vichy French government signed a truce with Germany. The Vichy government was viewed as little more than a puppet regime for the Nazis. The British couldn’t have the French fleet fall into Nazi hands.
Second, Nearly 1,300 French sailors were killed and 350 were wounded. Obviously this strained the relationship between the British and French, with British Admiral James Somerville describing the action as “the biggest political blunder of modern times.”
Third, in 1942 the French scuttled parts of their own fleet rather than let the ships fall into German hands. The French believed this was proof that the initial attack was unwarranted. French admiral Francois Darlan said as much in a letter to British Prime Minister Winston Churchill after the scuttling.
Our question: Who was the leader of the Free French Forces during World War II?
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