Essai en Guerre: an FFO-inspired TL

Part 2.5
Memorandum of the Joint Economic Planning Office to the Supreme War Council
30/10/40
HAUT SECRET/ TOP SECRET

Sirs, some weeks ago you requested our comment regarding the inter-connected questions of strategic transport, shipping, iron & steel production, and shipbuilding...
2. The chief source of iron ore now available to the Union is North Africa. To illustrate the point, we note that in the last full year of peace, British iron ore imports were just over 5 million tons, half of this from continental Europe, the other half from North Africa, with some other minor supplies.
3. British iron and steel production therefore must make do with half its pre-war level of ore. Scrap can compensate for this only in part. However, this illustrates the importance of the Union - without North Africa, British primary iron & steel production (i.e. from ore) would eventually almost cease.
4. We can also partly address the gap through the import of finished iron & steel goods, chiefly from the USA. We have placed very large orders and will continue to do so. However, both for wartime and peacetime purposes, we consider it desirable to avoid as far as possible excessive dependency on US supply.
5. Evidently, iron ore is a bulk product and shipping space is our most critical scarce resource, even more so than manpower. We have therefore explored the possibilities of expanding refinery capacity in North Africa itself, clearly there would be great advantages to exporting bar iron rather than iron ore. However, for the technical reasons outlined in annex B, we do not believe this can make a significant contribution to the easing of shipping requirements in the next two years…
8. You asked specifically about the problems of reinforcing the Far East. A great easing of strategic transport requirements will arise from our possession of the entire North African coastline, once attained. From an economic point of view this is much the most valuable effort that the Union can make in the next 6 months, and no other considerations should be permitted to reduce its likelihood. The transport of goods to the Middle and Far East will become easy via the Mediterranean, though heavy sea and air escort will be necessary in the Sicilian Narrows.
9. We understand that the military advice is that the Narrows will be too risky for troop transports as long as the enemy holds Sicily and Sardinia. This implies some such approach as follows: disembark troops at Algiers, travel overland to the Gulf of Gabes or Tripoli, then re-embark for Egypt & points east. This in turn implies the need to upgrade the North African railways and connect the Tunisian line to the Libyan, once captured. This will require large investments, but can probably be made effective during the present war, if sufficient American help is forthcoming. The advantages of this over using the Cape route will be obvious…
11. Shipyard capacity remains another limiting factor. The demands of convoy escort manufacture, the repair of merchantmen, the construction of landing craft, and the completion of the new major fleet units, mean that British yards cannot themselves perform all the works needed on French units. The technical problems of completing the Jean Bart seem insuperable, and we recommend exploring her conversion to an aircraft carrier in the USA, if this can be made to fit in with military requirements...

We are, sirs, yours etc.
BEVERIDGE
MONNET
PLEVEN
ZUCKERMAN
 
Thank you for returning to timeline writing! The Sea Eagles is a real favourite of mine.

I enjoyed FFO but have to agree that the English language version went a bit off piste. My A Level French dates from 1986 so I'd struggle with the original version.

Please keep up the good work.

Cheers!
 
Thank you for returning to timeline writing! The Sea Eagles is a real favourite of mine.

I enjoyed FFO but have to agree that the English language version went a bit off piste. My A Level French dates from 1986 so I'd struggle with the original version.

Please keep up the good work.

Cheers!
Thank you! I always appreciate feedback (preferably praise :) )
 

Driftless

Donor
Nice twist having Molders make a very early exit to the war as a POW. I noted that you had at least some of the POW's in Martinique. I could imagine if the war progresses favorably, the French may need to find additional POW locations: Guyana, Madagascar, and other pleasant spots.
 
I'm delighted to see you back in action writing this TL, and I think a France that fights on will have a huge effect on the War. The Sea Eagles is an old favorite of mine.

So let's see here. Japan's having to be a lot more cautious because they don't get Indochina via Vichy. The Germans are going to be a lot less committed to North Africa and Italy's position is a whole lot worse. Furthermore, Germany now has to really occupy a hostile France rather than just the northwestern ring of OTL.

On the other hand, the Soviets could end up with a 2-front war if Japan and Germany coordinate, and the US is less likely to enter the war due to Japanese caution or a Northern strategy. You're also more likely to see an Eastern Front Rommel, which will be bad for his postwar reputation for obvious reasons and Rommel vs. Zhukov would be quite the conflict of titans if it happens.
 

Coulsdon Eagle

Monthly Donor
Nice twist having Molders make a very early exit to the war as a POW. I noted that you had at least some of the POW's in Martinique. I could imagine if the war progresses favorably, the French may need to find additional POW locations: Guyana, Madagascar, and other pleasant spots.
The French have to be careful as there are (at this time) almost certainly more French POW's than German.
 

Driftless

Donor
The French have to be careful as there are (at this time) almost certainly more French POW's than German.
Good point, but I'm not thinking Devil's Island type incarceration, just a location far removed from German and Italian occupied areas and I would imagine the French Caribbean islands have limited space at some point. The idea is to greatly reduce the temptation for escape. OTL, a great many German POWs were shipped to middle Canada and US. Miles and miles and miles of prairie, or lake upon lake upon lake separated by endless forest. Diehards will attempt escape, but where to?
 
Good point, but I'm not thinking Devil's Island type incarceration, just a location far removed from German and Italian occupied areas and I would imagine the French Caribbean islands have limited space at some point. The idea is to greatly reduce the temptation for escape. OTL, a great many German POWs were shipped to middle Canada and US. Miles and miles and miles of prairie, or lake upon lake upon lake separated by endless forest. Diehards will attempt escape, but where to?

Why, Sail back to Germany with a coconut raft powered by world ice theory.

More seriously, other then making sure they don’t hop onto a cargo ship, there’s not a lot of need for excess guards and barbed wire.
 
Japan's having to be a lot more cautious because they don't get Indochina via Vichy.

On the other hand, the Soviets could end up with a 2-front war if Japan and Germany coordinate, and the US is less likely to enter the war due to Japanese caution or a Northern strategy.
Japan does not get Indochina handed to them on a platter with Hitler putting a gun to Petain's head, true. (BTW, it is not clear to me if the "Quisling regime" is precisely or almost anyway identical to the OTL Vichy government, with Petain at its head and Laval prominent in it, or if it is radically changed by the resolution of the prewar government to fight on drawing in people who participated in Vichy OTL and perhaps causing people like Petain who had no option to flee German control to nevertheless refuse to shore up their puppet state for the Germans). So Petain or whomever in Vichy can issue all the orders they like, no one in French overseas territories is listening to them, they are taking their fight-on orders from Algiers.

I have to wonder what that does to the dynamic of native insurgency against the French colonial system, especially in Indochina. OTL the French colonial regime became Axis-collaborationist, so such figures as Ho Chi Minh had little difficulty reconciling the USSR's once and future anti-Axis stance with their anti-French nationalism--obviously Ho would have had a problem in the period between the signing of the Hitler-Stalin pact and Barbarossa being launched. But in this ATL, France is stubbornly anti-Axis from start to finish. It is in the ATL easy enough for a Communist like Ho to line up with Soviet soft line on the Reich and hard line against the Western Allies, but when Hitler strikes at Russia at last, which inclination will Ho Chi Minh in particular follow--Vietnamese nationalism, or Comintern solidarity demanding he make his peace with the French regime?

I gather some hold that Ho Chi Minh could hardly be characterized as the primary leader of Vietnamese nationalists in 1940, and they point to a Trotskyist rival party. They too would have some dilemmas to face illustrating these Catch-22s are not merely matters of being obedient stooges of a central Party dictatorship but inherent in the situation. Vietnamese nationalism seeks first of all to undermine and overthrow French authority, but also to avoid some third party coming in to rule just as arbitrarily as the French do or worse. And it might perhaps be necessary, or overall more prudent anyway, to negotiate with the French for some kind of autonomy or shared sovereignty compromise versus fighting for a full independence that either France herself can repress in the fullness of time, or the Allies France is attached to commit to assisting the French in restoring their Empire post-war as part of the agreed on war aims. Certainly the UK is likely to sign on to such a commitment, help in maintaining the British regime being reciprocally implied and explicitly agreed to by France. The question is whether the Anglo-French Entente, with the Soviets eventually on their side as co-belligerants if not full Allies, can prevail against both the Euro-Axis (that is Hitler plus much less effective sidekicks) and Japan without Yankee help, because the Yankees are sure to fudge the whole issue. Many say "The Americans are anti-colonial!" both on the pro-colonial and anti-colonial side--I think that pronouncement lacks nuance. Americans are rhetorically anti-colonial but in practice gave many colonial projects quite a lot of help in restoring their power post-war, while inconsistently letting other colonial restoration schemes short shrift, as in the Dutch East Indies becoming Indonesia.

Broadly speaking, the USA presided postwar over a transition from European held formal colonies to nominal independence whereby the new nations were pretty much beholden to First World corporate priorities no matter how Marxist-Leninist their slogans and national names, dominant party names, etc sounded--a few of them tried to be meaningfully socialist but hardly had the material means to do so. Obviously major powers like China or India stand aloof a bit from this broad characterization of most of the newly independent post-colonial governments, but cynically speaking it was very much a case of "meet the new boss, same as the old boss." But while it is was true Americans liked seeing themselves as slayers of the old formal-colonial dragons, in the immediate post-war period keeping such major powers as Britain and France on-side against the USSR (the danger not being so much either of them cynically switching sides to ally with Stalin as that demoralizing national leadership too much would leave their societies in a state of collapse where whether or not the Reds could take over from within, at any rate neither would be any use as active anti-Soviet allies) took priority.

So, OTL leftist insurgencies against the Indochina branch of French colonial power had a sort of heads I win tails you lose political cachet; once Vichy formed, their anti-French insurgent actions in all forms took the form of an anti-Axis blow, and Japanese occupation took the form of a change of colonialist management leaving the Vietnamese nationalists as opposed to Japanese as French imperialism. Post war was another story of course as US policy shifted to support French claims across the board, and it was only a few years of embarrassing confusion before pro-French bolstering of a Western European alliance fell into line with hard line anti-Communism to leave the Vietnamese insurgencies firmly against US leadership policy on all fronts.

Now here in the ATL, if Free France Fighting On can spare enough French force to stand off the Japanese from overwhelming them in Indochina I would be pretty surprised. But another question is, can the relatively few French forces in Indochina manage to keep the loyalty of enough Vietnamese (along with other Indochinese peoples, mostly Cambodians, some Montagnards, Laotian etc recruits too) colonial forces to parry Japanese efforts in force to invade and prevail, or in some combination of their being insufficient numbers, the forces having insufficient quality, or their loyalty being subverted by anti-French political factions that cut some kind of deal with the Japanese that either they foolishly think will leave Vietnamese (I don't have the impression other national groups in Indochina had the organization for this yet) better off under Japanese rule--or just maybe perhaps the Japanese actually keep their word, particularly if Vietnamese assistance puts them in control at low cost and quickly, and the Vietnamese leadership actively assists the Japanese war effort.

Is either the Viet Minh, the Trotskyist rival patriotic group, or any other major Vietnamese faction likely to both be willing to deal with the Japanese and of enough strength to make a difference against more or less loyal, more or less competent, pro-French forces and let Japan in by an insurgent back door where Hitler demanded they come in the front OTL?

Can the Japanese take charge with native help fast enough and at low enough cost, thoroughly enough that they feel they have the same prospects for victory in the south as they did OTL? Or will an Indochina whose colonial government has no divided loyalties unlike that of OTL be too much, if not a wall, then a speed bump against Japanese ambitions to deter their thinking and force them to stay focused on Northern options?

The thing is, I think they didn't really have long term "northern options" anyway. If they knew everything we know today about Manchurian and east Siberian oil fields, they might have one--except I gather it took advanced equipment and refining methods to make good use of them. Anyway they don't know where the best fields are, or any of them, nor is the refining capacity there either.

So--as they conducted their war against the Chinese, they were burning through the financial reserves needed to buy the oil and other resources they needed (Japan having practically zero domestic resources, everything "domestic" was coming from Taiwan, Manchuria and occupied territory of China). Perhaps if instead of oil they found huge gold or silver mines in the north, they could go on buying Indonesian (Dutch) oil indefinitely, but meanwhile the USA, specifically the Navy, had been regarding Japan as a natural enemy for decades and was spoiling for a fight; the more dependent the Entente is on US good will, the less conciliatory they can be toward Japan.

I would not quite go so far as to say that the OTL crazy gung-ho Japanese sweep of conquering success followed by overreach and collapse was inevitable, but it is hard for me to imagine any kind of soft landing for Japan. Even if they are thus deterred from attacking Indochina and thus have no foothold anywhere in Southeast Asia, if they don't try to get control of Indonesia I don't know what the militarists can be up to by 1942.

The trouble with a Northern Objective, that is tying the USSR up on two fronts, is that materially speaking even if the Soviet resistance collapses (and that hardly seems likely to me at all!) what does conquest of vast sweeps of eastern Siberia gain the Japanese to show for it? Nothing like the diverse and much needed resources such as oil and rubber they could get by conquering Indonesia and SE Asia OTL. Whether or not it helps Hitler et al, how does it help Tojo and gang?
 
Nice twist having Molders make a very early exit to the war as a POW. I noted that you had at least some of the POW's in Martinique.
A lot of German aircrew are going to discover Caribbean holidays. Molders being a French POW is OTL, here the French are rightly making the removal of aircrew POWs a priority. IIRC Churchill mentions this in his memoirs, noting how some German aircrew, shot down over France by the RAF, were released after the Armistice, "and we had to shoot them down again" (paraphrase). The Luftwaffe therefore will be weaker by several hundred aircrew relative to OTL.
Japan's having to be a lot more cautious
They need to be more cautious, but whether they will be remains to be seen.
the Soviets could end up with a 2-front war if Japan and Germany coordinate
Effective coordination? Between Axis powers? Never in a month of Sundays.
You're also more likely to see an Eastern Front Rommel
Oooh yes.
Diehards will attempt escape, but where to?
You'd have to be supremely brave, or crazy. :)
BTW, it is not clear to me if the "Quisling regime" is precisely or almost anyway identical to the OTL Vichy government, with Petain at its head and Laval prominent in it, or if it is radically changed by the resolution of the prewar government to fight on drawing in people who participated in Vichy OTL and perhaps causing people like Petain who had no option to flee German control to nevertheless refuse to shore up their puppet state for the Germans
It's not 100% clear to me either, but I imagine Petain (if he's still alive) would keep a distance, while Laval & cronies would jump at the chance to boss people about. In any case they would have no authority or legitimacy whatsoever, the French colonies & the US would ignore them.
I have to wonder what that does to the dynamic of native insurgency against the French colonial system, especially in Indochina
Oooh yes.
if Free France Fighting On can spare enough French force to stand off the Japanese from overwhelming them in Indochina I would be pretty surprised
Me too.
The trouble with a Northern Objective, that is tying the USSR up on two fronts, is that materially speaking even if the Soviet resistance collapses (and that hardly seems likely to me at all!) what does conquest of vast sweeps of eastern Siberia gain the Japanese to show for it? Nothing like the diverse and much needed resources such as oil and rubber they could get by conquering Indonesia and SE Asia OTL. Whether or not it helps Hitler et al, how does it help Tojo and gang?
It doesn't much, which is why it wouldn't happen.
I would not quite go so far as to say that the OTL crazy gung-ho Japanese sweep of conquering success followed by overreach and collapse was inevitable, but it is hard for me to imagine any kind of soft landing for Japan. Even if they are thus deterred from attacking Indochina and thus have no foothold anywhere in Southeast Asia, if they don't try to get control of Indonesia I don't know what the militarists can be up to by 1942.
My take is that Tokyo had painted itself into a corner by 1941. No soft landings indeed.
 
Part 3.1
Part 3. Renard tué en plein air


Extract from Le sable et la poudre by Herbert Molins, ch.4

...General Olry felt unable to launch any offensive against 5th Army until late November, owing to his shortage of transport. XIX Corps then made a limited attack, codenamed GARCON, to gain better jumping-off positions, but a full counter-offensive must wait until more motor vehicles, signals equipment, aviation fuel and aircraft spares arrived from the United States. Convoys with this essential materiel had already arrived, but it took some time to distribute the materiel and ensure the men were adequately prepared. Many of the radios had arrived with all the instructions in English - these needed translation. Six hundred lorries were immobilised for a month by shortages of a particular kind of spring. Olry commented to de Gaulle that 'It was some comfort to know that the Italians suffered just as badly from these afflictions, and had less hope of relief.'
‘The predominant question,’ said M. Mandel, ‘is the air.’ During the autumn and winter the French air force gained air superiority over Tunisia and made increasingly powerful attacks on Tripoli. The D.520 and LeO 451 types saw much use, but the main cutting edge of the Armee de l’Air d’Afrique (AAA) now came from American types. The aviators loved the H.75 and found it ‘definitely superior to anything the Italians have, and in the right hands, equal to any German type except the latest Me 109 variant’, in the words of one report. The AAA used the Glenn Martin 167 extensively for tactical bombing, and the Douglas DB-7 for raids against Tripoli and Italian shipping. Much of the ordnance used was also coming from the US - the AAA cautioned against going ahead as they felt stockpiles were inadequate, but the Council determined to accept the risk.
By Christmas, all was as ready as one could hope. The Council had heard disquieting indications that German forces were coming, and they wished to forestall the possibility of a possibly prolonged campaign in Libya. XIX Corps repeated its role of GARCON with a limited frontal assault on 25th December; the troops, mostly Muslims, had no objection to fighting at Christmas, and it was hoped to catch the Italians off-guard. ‘Such an underhand trick,’ complained one Italian officer as he went into captivity.
However this was really just a demonstration. The starring role went to III Corps, with all the available tanks, and now provided with sufficient American motor transport. They outflanked 5th Army and raced for the border, encircling and capturing most of the Italian forces in Tunisia. During this phase the British forces in Cyrenaica completed the destruction of 10th Army, capturing Bardia, Tobruk and Derna, in the latter place also capturing General Bergonzoli. ‘We had no transport, no air, no artillery,’ he complained, ‘we could neither fight nor flee.’
 

Driftless

Donor
If the Italians have lost two good sized chunks of their North African Army and are in a definite bind, and Il Duce is committed to Greece, does he really press hard for the Germans to help in Africa? Or Greece? or Yes....
 

Driftless

Donor
Can the US (Rock Island Arsenal?) produce enough M-2, M-3 Light Tanks in time to be useful additions for both the French and British North African forces?

IIRC, the US Mediums, even the wifty M-2 won't be ready till 1941, and the M-3 Medium (Lee/Grant) later than the M-2
 
The aviators loved the H.75 and found it ‘definitely superior to anything the Italians have, and in the right hands, equal to any German type except the latest Me 109 variant’, in the words of one report.
I could recognize most US made aircraft here but I was a bit mystified by the "H.75"; I did guess it might be what it turned out to be--the P-36 Hawk, known to Commonwealth operators as "Mohawk." Curtiss called a whole long lineage of fighters "Hawks" and apparently France avoided that label for whatever reason.

This led me to wonder how fast France Fighting On might get P-40 "Warhawks" and what they would call them. OTL this model was already on order when the Battle of France erupted, and so there should be at least 100 "H.81" on the way to French forces in North Africa. OTL the British did not use theirs until mid-1941 but I imagine that whatever caused that delay would be cut short in French service, though this might mean some teething problems largely avoided in later British and US (and Republic of China) service.

One deficiency of the more advanced Curtiss type carried over from the P-36/H.75 type was the inferior single-speed supercharger, though Wikipedia remarks this was a serious handicap only in Northwest Europe, and that OTL in North Africa and other more tropical theaters their opposition did not climb so high and the type fought well there. So, until and unless France is involved in mixing things up against the higher altitude performance Luftwaffe types I guess there isn't much priority involved in improving this, and I suppose the silver lining to that dark cloud is probably simpler maintenance, which at the somewhat longer supply line to France's centers of power probably is a big help. I suppose Algeria can upgrade its domestic industry, which was probably skimpy compared to metropolitan France but I guess pretty good by colonial standards, with priority Allied infusions of equipment and bootstrapping general industry under that war priority.

Along with Vietnam, Algeria of course is the elephant in the room politically postwar, though the thread obviously is not going to get there organically for quite a long time to come and can be forgiven for avoiding looking too closely to the postwar period.

I have every confidence of course the Allies win on all fronts, probably with the USSR being an Ally, almost certainly with heavy US involvement though not 100 percent certain--eventually without either Soviet or US open belligerency, and sooner than OTL with both. With neither USSR nor USA involved I suppose some kind of truce might be in the cards, but vanishingly unlikely given that France is integrally fighting on; truce means a bad outcome for France, whereas if both Commonwealth and exilic France have the resolve to fight to the finish, the Axis is strangled except for whatever supply they can get through Russia. And barring the ATL and not too likely early death of Hitler, I rate Barbarossa as practically certain to happen, Russian survival though no doubt reeling initial debacle as OTL nearly as certain, and dead certain if the USA comes in. The biggest question mark is whether the US does enter the war, but FDR's reelection chances are practically identical with OTL, and his desire to see the US in on the victory is pretty strong, as are a great many other US interests--I weigh these as more important than the loudly proclaimed neutrality lobby. And of course Japan attacking any western allies makes US entry into war at the very least against Japan almost certain anyway, in fact the US is clandestinely and deniably at war with Japan already via the "Flying Tiger" expeditionary force in south China.

Some might suppose the Allies (perhaps better called "Entente" at this point?) driving the Italians out of North Africa and preempting much of the OTL desert war might give Barbarossa extra concentration that might tip the Soviets over the edge, but I judge that even handing the Red Army some extra idiot balls plus multiplying the Axis assault a bit more, with Rommel et al, can only result in the Germans pushing a bit farther--Russian strategic depth is just a tremendous buffer buying the Reds time to get their act together, and they will of course have plenty of resolve, and if Uncle Sam comes into the war openly, plenty of resources too. And there goes Hitler's last portal to import strategic materials he can't scrounge out of Europe itself and conquered Soviet territory. Meanwhile if in fact North Africa can be sewn up earlier, you've already noted specific logistic advantages that brings the Entente which not only multiply Anglo-French effectiveness but also will give superior options for bringing aid in to the Russians, and securing the Mideast in general resulting in fewer losses and perhaps reduced garrison requirements there. We might see Greece be a theater that quite offsets any savings to the Axis forces coming from preempting losses in North Africa, and of course Italy is vulnerable to invasion that much earlier too. Probably not much earlier than OTL because the OTL campaign leaned on US resources--but early in US participation we weren't in a position to field a lot of force and I suppose the Entente alone might make a go of landing in Sicily anyway, earlier than OTL, though that might turn into a meatgrinder if they don't wait to muster adequate force for it first.

Any chance that with France Fighting On, a decision was made to hold in Narvik, retaining a bit of Free Norway for the crown prince to lead Norwegian regular forces in, and to limit later German ability to impede White Sea convoys to the Soviets? I suppose not, the priority to consolidate what force France had would probably lead to writing it off much as OTL or even more abruptly if possible, which is a shame. Of course with or without the Third Republic government formally fighting on, and with greater French resources due to fewer Army and far fewer Navy assets surrendering to the Germans, both exilic France in North Africa and Britain are about as vulnerable as OTL--though the fact the Germans and Italians must regard French North Africa (along with the rest of France's colonial holdings, though those don't matter so much in the short run--in the longer run they first represent colonial resources denied Hitler toward mustering for Barbarossa, and then manpower and resources somewhat greater than Free France commanded OTL) as hostile territory instead of controlled assets is a distraction from focusing completely from trying to subdue Britain, by Blitz, fear of invasion (impossible though we may judge that in Monday morning quarterbacking hindsight) and U-boat and Condor strikes on shipping. In practice it looks like Jerry is pretty much doing as OTL, and indeed avoiding the North African distraction, so objectively Britain might be a bit worse off from redoubled Luftwaffe strikes, but these are not sustainable nor do they do nearly as much damage as strategic bombing advocates would hope.

So, getting back a bit to French colonial policy, I suppose that on the whole the early and undivided attention the 3rd Republic in exile has to give to maintaining control in the colonies makes active insurgency of colonized nationalists less thinkable--how about the other side of the equation? To what degree might African and other native peoples, especially in Algeria and North Africa generally, leverage their fairly loyalist assistance of the French Republican cause into greater consideration during and after the war? Is it thinkable that long term personal contact between the bulk of surviving mobilized French forces with Algerians and others will win over a greater political sympathy for their issues lasting decades after the war, and can the continuing Republic (whether it renumbers itself in consideration of the war and exile being a major national watershed, or continues counting itself, with reforms, as the same 3rd Republic) adapt so as to make the pretense of Algeria being "integral" French territory a workable political reality postwar, with Algerians (a sufficient number of them anyway) accepting and being accepted as proper integral French citizens, without having to completely remake themselves as non-Islamic, thoroughly Gallicized "evolves" to "earn" this? Is wartime loyalty sufficient to keep Algeria united to France on multi-cultural terms in other words?

And if that can happen in Algeria, can the concept be extended, if not to every piece of territory France now claims, at any rate to places like say Senegal, so that perhaps all French northern Africa remains part of a larger France?

I doubt it can be done for Indochina, the cultural difference and nationalist grievances are too great there I think. Though of course as noted, it might be years before this thread reaches anywhere near 1944-'45 and the end of the war, and without Japan being given a red carpet invitation to come in and browse in Indochina, conceivably the alignment of native Vietnamese and French colonial policy might enable quite different postwar outcomes even there.

But anyway French Africa might more conceivably become a sustainable thing postwar. As a lefty person and humanist, I assume this is on the basis of democracy, egalitarianism, multiculturalism and rapid advancement of material standards of living in any French African zones that accept unity or commonwealth with France. Which would mean cultural interpenetrations going both ways; French African peoples will indeed be considerably Frenchified, but quid pro quo, metropolitan France would surely be notably Africanized too.

Or of course it could be decided, perhaps more amicably and functionally than OTL, that France should "let them go" though perhaps on terms with more of a commonwealth element to it than OTL, precisely because France does not want that cultural consequence. And cannot maintain an open hierarchy of dominance--though OTL informal influence does maintain quite a lot of that, so perhaps I should be more cynical.

Again I am banking on the idea that with lots of French soldiers in day to day contact with their native African hosts, while some might thus become more racist than OTL, others will tend to fraternize and humanize in their minds people who seemed strange and exotic to their OTL counterparts stuck in Vichy occupation, and by the end of the war a stronger and wider sentiment for inclusiveness and fraternity would exist diverting the tone and character of post-war politics in France itself.

At the most optimistic, there are still at least four, probably most of five, more years of war left, nor do I think France can be liberated a lot earlier than OTL--I might be surprised in this, but I firmly believe that for OTL D-Day to work, the level of logistic support had to be built up nor is there any reason to see this happening much faster than OTL. And that of course is with the USA entering the war by late 1941 or by mid-1942 at the latest. (If the USA is coming in at all, I'd think earlier is more likely than later, as FDR despite his keen interest in aiding the Allied cause, has to consider US domestic politics, and 1942 is a mid-term election year--we could perhaps enter the war early in it, before March say, but as the November elections approach it would take a gross provocation indeed, and quite possibly FDR might lose control of Congress in '42). If somehow Uncle Sam sits it out, or only enters late in the game opportunistically, without the sort of massive mobilization accomplished OTL, I can only imagine an Entente D-Day without the USA or with late-entry token participation can only come even later, perhaps not until 1945. Also without heavy US aid the Soviets will advance more slowly, which heads off the prospect the Red Army will reach Paris first I suppose.

For the greater glory of my own country and I think the better outcome for humanity, I am hoping the US enters pretty much on OTL schedule if not earlier, but alas, that leaves us with OTL timetables, maybe advanced if Japan somehow implodes and the Pacific War is not much of a thing beyond the US and Soviets continuing to aid the Chinese factions. But as noted, the one thing the Japanese cannot try to do with their bayonets is sit on them; they are under pressure to do something drastic, and almost anything they can do that might look to them like salvation is pretty sure to bring the US into the war, and once brought in even if strictly on a Pacific pretext, aid at the very least if not simple open DOW on the Euro-Axis seems inevitable--to do otherwise is to leave much of the fate of the world American leading circles were keen to involve themselves in to either Hitler and gang, or to the Anglo-French Entente acting alone in conjunction with Stalin. And eventually confrontation with him...
 

Driftless

Donor
Another couple of RAF related questions:
  1. If Tunis is available as a base for Entente air operations, then Malta should be much easier to restock with RAF planes, correct? That may obviate the need for much of the "club runs" by the RN
  2. If Tunis, or Sfax are available as a base for Entente air ops, then doesn't that also mean that the re-stocking supply line for warplanes to Egypt is shortened considerably? Much less of shipping crated planes around the Cape, or the lengthy cross-country air route from Ghana across Africa to Egypt. Now, that route might be mostly a hop from Tunis to Bengazi, Tobruk, or Marsa Matruh. That path also would keep the Axis guessing as to the Entente intent (pun intended)
  3. Italian convoys to Tripoli or Sirte have to be higher risk, almost by default from air and sea.
 
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