l'Appel du 18 Juin by Steve Payne & Scott
says: what if Charles De Gaulle fled Vichy France only to find a worse
bunch of cowards in London?. Please note that the opinions expressed in this
post do not necessarily reflect the views of the author(s).
June 18th 1940,
on this day, ironically the anniversary of the Battle of
Waterloo, Charles de Gaulle was arrested upon his arrival at the BBC
Broadcasting House near Oxford Circus. Winston Churchill who was preparing
his own "blood, sweat and tears" speech had made the offer to broadcast on
the BBC, to declare that "France has lost a battle, but not the war".
Neither speech would be given because the Tory Caucus had overruled Winston
Churchill, insisting upon peace negotiations with Nazi Germany.
The British Cabinet had met that morning without Churchill who was busy with
his speech. The Minister of Information, Duff Cooper, mentioned that de
Gaulle was planning to talk on the BBC that evening and gave an outline of
what the Frenchman planned to say. The Cabinet decided that the broadcast
would be "undesirable". Britain was still hoping to maintain a relationship
with the new government set up in Bordeaux under the First World War hero,
Marshal Petain, to avoid it siding with the Germans. Churchill was
particularly anxious to ensure that the powerful French fleet did not fall
into Nazi hands.
The war being advocated by both [Churchill and de
Gaulle] would most surely have not only bankcrupted the country, but also
meant the end for both the British Empire and the Class System.Unaware
of this, de Gaulle worked on his text before lunching with Duff Cooper, who
did not tell him of the Cabinet decision. But Cooper did tip off Edward
Spears, a general who had been Churchill's personal envoy to the previous
French government and had brought de Gaulle to England in his plane the day
before. The war being advocated by both [Churchill and de Gaulle] would most
surely have not only bankcrupted the country, but also meant the end for
both the British Empire and the Class System.Spears went to see Churchill in
the afternoon to argue that the general should go ahead with his broadcast
because it would give French resistance a focus and might induce the
remnants of France's air force to fly to Britain. The prime minister replied
that he would authorise the broadcast if members of the Cabinet would change
their minds. Looking 'miserable and hot; according to an eyewitness, Spears
set off to speak to the ministers individually.
Consulted one by one, Cabinet members agreed that de Gaulle should be
authorised to speak,' according to a note added to the record of the earlier
decision. In the early evening, wearing a uniform with leggings and polished
boots, the Frenchman took a taxi to BBC Broadcasting House near Oxford
Circus. And yet de Gaulle would not after all become the "L'homme du destin"
because immense pressure was being exerted by the Tory Caucus, and by the
end of the day both de Gaulle and Churchill would be disempowered before
they could prevent the commencement of peace negotiations with Nazi Germany.
Because the war being advocated by both, would most surely have not only
bankrupted the country, but also meant the end for both the British Empire
and the Class System.
says original content has been repurposed to celebrate the author's
genius © Jonathan Fenby's biography, The General: De Gaulle and the France
He Saved (June 2010) and also the
Schoolnet web site. To view guest historian's comments on this post
please visit the
Today in Alternate History web site.
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