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Discussion in 'History Forum' started by Salty, Mar 21, 2014.
Did his decision change the course of WW II?
The French were bitter about the attack, and French Navy Admiral François Darlan especially. He had sworn to Churchill that the French fleet would not fall into German hands, but Churchill doubted him. The British Prime Minister also needed to prove to Roosevelt that he was more than willing to prosecute the war at any cost, including going it alone if need be. The attack accomplished both the prevention of the German Kriegsmarine from acquiring the French vessels but convinced Roosevelt to send 50 nearly obsolete destroyers to Britain to aid in Churchill's attempt to save the empire.
Darlan wrote church in November 1942, after the remnants of the fleet still in French hands were scuttled at Toulon, rather than allow them to fall into German hands. The admiral roundly chastised Churchill, saying the scuttling of the ships proved he could have been trusted two and half years earlier to make certain German sailors didn't man French ships. But the allies were beginning to prove they would win the war by that time. Two and a half years before, France couldn't be so sure.
It is likely that the attack prevented the Kriegsmarine from becoming more formidable with the acquisition of the French Navy. That may have turned the tide of the war, absolutely.
This is, by the way, an Army War College exercise in analysis.
Completely unaware of this. Thanks fellows. I learned something today.:thumbs:
I have always admired Churchill, and this tid-bit just added a bit more respect!
Can you even remotely visualize our current POTUS having the guts to so much as THINK of such an act???? :flower: :1_grouphug:
While no one can say with 110%+ accuracy whether or not the outcome of Churchill's decision to destroy what remained of the French Navy in the early 1940's changed the course of WW2 prior to (or even after) the US's' entry into this conflict in late 1941, his decision turned out to be very crucial in developing the Western Allies' (basically the US, Britain, and the USSR) strategy for conducting the war after the D-Day invasion of Nazi-occupied Normandy in June, 1944.
Churchill knew that, had the Nazis captured the French fleet (which was Hitler's plan to do), this would have resulted in almost completely isolating the British Isles from receiving much-needed supplies from both the US and Canada.
Anyone who is familiar with how dangerous it was for our cargo ships to arrive unscathed at British ports due to Hitler's incessant and very deadly U-Boat [submarine] attacks on Allied shipping in the Atlantic Ocean can only imagine how much more impossible it would have been had these cargo ships also had to deal with bombardments and/or raids by Nazi-operated battleships and cruisers!
Some WW2 military historical analysts contend that Hitler never really considered an Allied invasion of northwestern Europe as being very feasible. According to some of these analysts, this is why Hitler never allotted that many resources in developing a very strong system of coastal defensive fortifications--a mistake that proved to be very costly for him on D-Day.
While it is true that the US and British military allies did expend a large degree of their resources in fighting Rommel's "Afrika Korps" in northern Africa, when the Allied military strategists came to the conclusion that Hitler was more concerned with protecting his "southern" and "eastern" flanks (i.e., respectively the Mediterranean and Balkan [SE Europe] regions), that was most likely the Allies' principal impetus in proceeding with "Operation Overlord"--the official designation of the initial 1944 military invasion of northern France. ("D-Day" was only the initial coastal invasion phase of "Overlord.")
For those who may be interested in studying this interesting and (as was pointed out in the OP) relatively "forgotten" aspect of WW2, in addition to the sources referenced in the OP's on-line link, I can also recommend a complete biographical narrative on Churchill's life written by Sir Martin Gilbert entitled Churchill: The Power of Words published in 2012 by DaCapo Press (ISBN 978-0-306-82155-4) [ www.dacapopress.com ].
I saw it on PBS last night