Fantasque Time Line (France Fights On) - English Translation

Not open for further replies.
July 1st, 1940

British Somaliland
- At Berbera, HMS Chantala, escorted by the light cruiser HMAS Hobart, disembarks the 1/2nd Punjab, which comes to reinforce the defense of Somaliland.
July 1st, 1940

Western Mediterranean
- The Allies are counting their assets. To trap the Italian fleet of Taranto, they could concentrate two small aircraft carriers (HMS Eagle and Béarn), ten battleships and battlecruisers (the modern Dunkerque and Strasbourg, four old English battleships of the Queen Elizabeth-class, the old French battleships Bretagne, Lorraine, Provence and Courbet), plus numerous cruisers and destroyers. In addition, the Aéronavale has flotillas based on land, in Malta or Tunisia.
The only problem is that Supermarina, well aware of this imbalance of forces, wishes to remain very cautious.
Twenty Breguet 521 Bizerte seaplanes are based in Berre and Algiers to provide the convoys that shuttle between the South of France and North Africa a permanent ASM escort. However, only eleven aircraft are operational.
The E1 squadron is then reinforced by three old LeO-257bis seaplanes and the E9 squadron by the four brand new LeO H-470 of the E11 squadron, which usefully reinforced the air cover potential between Marseille and Algiers.
July 1st, 1940

- Olbia is attacked by MB-210 bombers based in Corsica. The bombing is not very accurate and the city suffers more than the port, where no ship is hit. However, it is fatal for the 5th coastal reconnaissance section: when the Bloch leaves, it only has one Cant Z.501 left in flying condition.
July 1st, 1940

Central Mediterranean
- The two large Italian destroyers Alvise da Mosto and Antonio da Noli, loaded with ammunition bound for Tripoli, are attacked by four Laté-298s based in
Malta, then by six Martin 167s. Both ships dodge the torpedoes, but the da Noli is damaged by damaged by bombs. The two ships return to Taranto, because they fear new air attacks or interception by French destroyers.
July 1st, 1940

- In the early morning, the destroyers and torpedo boats of Marina Libia complete a cycle of several night sorties, during which they set up defensive minefields in front of the Cyrenaican ports.
July 1st, 1940

- In the early afternoon, Marshal Rodolfo Graziani, who had arrived from Rome during the night, replaces the late Italo Balbo as commander-in-chief of all Italian forces in Africa Settentrionale, to which he had been appointed the same day his predecessor died. With the French air force resting a little that day, the ceremonies of his inauguration could take place without hindrance.
The number of combat missions carried out by Armée de l'Air aircraft based in NAF falls to 341: the very high rate of operations in the previous days requires maintenance work. Availability falls to 60% and decreases further in the following days.
July 1st, 1940

Western France
- Bombers escorted by Bf 109s (based at La Roche-sur-Yon) and Bf 110s, begin to make to make punctual appearances on the Gironde estuary, sinking two ships and forcing the GC II/8 to maintain cover patrols in the area. But, for the moment, only Bf 110s can escort bombers to Bordeaux - which will cost them dearly.
"In the Bloch factories of Bègles, Bacalan and Mérignac, it was a bustle, as in all the other aeronautical factories in France at that time. They had to produce all the aircraft possible with the stocks of parts and materials accumulated before the inevitable arrival of the Germans.
Fortunately, in the difficult times that the French armies were going through, the Groupe de Chasse II/8, which has just been redeployed to Mérignac, production site of the MB-155 fighter, is precisely equipped with this type of aircraft. The commander of the GC II/8 has received the authority to requisition everything he will need to ensure the proper functioning of his aircraft during the following weeks. The pilots are happy to note that, among the new planes that are parked on the factory parking lot, some of them are MB-155s, more powerful and better than the MB-152s and with a range doubled by the addition of a fuselage tank (until then, the Group had only received three of them).
On July 1st, the II/8 had the opportunity to test its brand new machines. The Luftwaffe launched a raid against Bordeaux a raid of about forty Heinkel 111s escorted by Bf 110s. However, if the Bloch 152/5s are uncomfortable against the '109s, they are very efficient against the '110s and the bombers, against which their two 20 mm cannons, a unique luxury at the time on single-engine aircraft, give them a destructive punch. Guided by an English MB radar, which was relocated to Bordeaux and now operational, they inflicted such losses on the attackers that, until July 19th, the attackers would only return to Bordeaux at night."
(Extract from "Le Groupe de Chasse II/8 dans la défense de l'Ouest - D'après le journal de marche de l'unité", Editions Ouest-France, 1990)
348 - Raid on Bordeaux
July 1st, 1940

Flugplatz Vendeville (today Lille-Lesquin), 02:15
- In the operations room of Stab/KG 53 and I/LG 1, the last instructions before the raid on Bordeaux are given to the crews of the crews of the Heinkel 111 by the unit commanders, Major Eduard Teske for Lehrgeschwader 1 and Oberst Erich Stahl for Kampfgeschwader 53. The latter, wounded during a previous raid, does not take part in the operation, entrusting the leadership to his counterpart of the I/LG1 in transit on the field. Luck is like that...
Hans Keller, the belly gunner, who is on his first mission , listens with a distracted ear, still awake because of the party for his induction the day before. The French wines
and even their beer is drinkable (Ach! The little lady who makes her beer near the mill a little west of the field!), but the mixture is a bit too much... And then their schnapps ! Well, they call it schnieff, but anyway, it's not for kids! On the other hand, he needed this, after his crew mates had explained that his predecessor, asleep at his post at the end of a mission, hadn't really appreciated the belly landing of their Heinkel whose landing gear had slipped away...
After the information on the headings, weather on the route, road points and meeting with the aircraft of the other Gruppen participating in the mission (KG 1 at Amiens-Glisy, 1/KG 53 at Evreux), it is time for questions. "What escort?" a pilot asked. "We will be covered by Bf 110 Zerstörer of the II/ZG 26 of Crécy en Ponthieu, that will be enough. We shouldn't need them, the French are finished."
Laughter, and some enthusiastic "Sieg Heil!" fill the room. At this moment, a dramatic turn of events! The door opens, giving way to the familiar bouncing form of Reichsmarschall Göring himself! Cheers, salutes, clicking of heels, and even a few arms raised spontaneously... or opportunely.
"Danke, meinen Herren, bravo for your support of the actions of the Great Reich. Your mission will prove to the French the determination of the German people to continue the struggle to the end and should convince them that any further resistance is useless! You have heard that these Schweinhunden were trying to transfer war materials to Africa, Ach, one wonders why! If necessary, we will exterminate them there! But well, it will be easier to do it here... Your objectives will be the ships in the harbor and the estuary, but avoid destroying the harbor itself, as well as the airfield, we'll need it soon [laughs]. And if by any chance you have to parachute out for any reason beyond your control, don't worry, given the speed at which our Panzerdivisionen are driving at, you won't stay long with the French, so take advantage of this time to check out the vineyards of the region!"
Laughter again... Keller only smiles, not too much in the mood for a parachute jump, after all, a plane is made to fly!

Bordeaux-Mérignac airfield, 05:00 - In the early morning, some mechanics and pilots of the GC II/8 are busy around the three Bloch MB-152s of the first coverage patrol of the day. The softness of the new day contrasts with the hardness of the men's features, tired by the fighting and withdrawals of the last six weeks, and called upon today to sacrifice themselves to the Grand Déménagement, their mounts with too little autonomy not allowing them to cross the Med. But determination can be read in their eyes, with a touch of the bitter nostalgia of the condemned...
Suddenly, the siren sounds... Surprised, the pilots climb into their cockpits, quickly, "Contact! Ignition!", the engines are shaking, while the men on the ground expect to see bombers flying low, but instead of Heinkel, Ainquelle, the orderly, comes running: "All pilots to the HQ! A raid has been detected!" Too late, the three aircraft start their taxiing, they will take their orders by radio.
The few pilots who were chatting with their friends at dawn run to Ponton d'Amécourt's HQ, where others, more or less awake, hurriedly equip themselves.
- An enemy group coming from the north was detected by the British machine, at least 50 planes. Apparently only bombers, but there could also be 110 escort planes.
Grandbesançon, you take the three 155s, you join the morning patrol and you climb as high as possible, in case of fighters, which you will engage. Vaublanc, you take the eight other 152, heading 010, and you will intercept the bombers at their cruising altitude, at 3 000 m. If you can, engage them from the side, but I doubt you have the time, so you'll have to take them from the front. Gentlemen, to your planes!

"Grandbé", callsign of captain Grandbesançon, takes off quickly with his two crew members on MB-155, the warm up was brief, but well, it is not too cold on the ground in this season. His patrol climbs as fast as the 1 080 hp of the Gnome-Rhône 14N49 allows them and join the dawn patrol, but it will take them at least ten minutes to reach the 6,000 meters they had planned... This makes them arrive at about the time of the planned contact with the German raid.
The eight MB-152s, led by "Devo", Captain de Vaublanc, take off shortly afterwards and also climb towards the north, the side wind coming from the sea should give them the real route to 010. In any case, in ten minutes, we will be in visual contact, especially since the weather is clear, with just a few cumulus clouds in the 4 000-6 000 range. Further down, a small sea mist envelops the MB-152s and should mask them for a while from the Germans' view.
In the cockpits, the pilots check the proper functioning of the masks, manipulate the weapon contacts... For the young sergeant Rousselle, cadet of the group, who is on his first combat sortie, the most difficult thing is to control the beating of his heart.
Almost simultaneously, two radio calls in the headphones. From the high patrol, Grandbé reports: "Target in sight, at 11 o'clock, 3 to 4000 meters, at least 40 Heinkels, and 8 Messer 110 in high coverage". Just after, "Cadet", in a nervous voice: "Heinkel at 12 o'clock, they are numerous!" In fact, the German bombers take a frontal formation in order to multiply their potential targets, which makes their arrival more a parade.
In no time, observing the device in front of them, Vaublanc makes his decision: "From Devo, formation in a staggered line for a frontal passage, maintain the altitude, clearance over and then to the right!" The Blochs move aside and align themselves with the patrol leader, who has slightly reduced in size while his teammates get into formation. "From Devo, fire on my signal!" - at nearly 800 km/h relative speed of the two forces, we'll be there fast!
Without knowing it, Vaublanc inaugurates a formation and a tactic that would be used a lot three years later, over Germany, notably by the Fw 190 pilots of the IV Sturm/JG 3 of Von Kornatsky attacking the American four-engine planes over Germany. And just as it will be the case in 1943, the result will be deadly!
"Achtung! Französen vorwarts!" Alerted by a nose gunner who spotted the device (the high patrols being masked by the cumulus clouds), the Bf 110s start a full throttle descent on the eight MB-152. The MB-152s and 155s of the high group dive behind them to intercept them, at the injunction of Grandbesançon : " From Grandbé, one engages, each one his, just aim!"
The Blochs climb badly, but dive well. The pilots of the Bf 110, concentrated on their targets, are shaken by the cries of alarm of their gunners, but these, with their poor MG 15 of 7,9 mm cannot do much against the fire of the 20 mm and the machine guns of the Bloch's machine guns. Three are shot down in a few seconds - only one parachute opens - and two others try to escape while burning, while the last three, more lucky, run in three different directions...
At the same time, without worrying about the Bf 110s, the "Devo" formation opens fire. The last thing that several German pilots see is the flashing of many lights in front of them... Four Heinkel 111s dive to the ground; one is in flames and the cockpits of the others are ravaged by the frontal pass fire, killing several crew members - the large glass surface of the He 111's nose is certainly appreciable for the visibility it offers and for bombing, but less for defending oneself. Three or four parachutes open, including that of Fdw Keller... Another aircraft leaves the formation to try to escape, maintained as well as possible in the air by Leutnant Meier, wounded in the arm by the shell which pulverized his canopy and killed his bombardier and machine-gunner; grimacing, he asks the other members of his crew for help in dropping the bombs to free his aircraft from an unnecessary weight. Fortunately for him, he loses altitude and thus escapes the fire of the Bloch 152s, which, after having crossed the German formation, turn to make a second pass, through a cross this time, while the MB-152 and 155, to which Grandbesançon forbids to run after the 110 survivors, put themselves in position after a rather hard turn for a pass by the left on the bombers.
It's the hallali. Vaublanc's planes attack the German formation from the left front somewhat dislocated. Three other twin-engine planes with wide wings begin their descent into hell, two of them are hit more or less seriously...
Suspended from his parachute, Keller watches in awe as the invincible eagles of his Reichsmarschall are doused in flames. Little consolation, a French plane flies away to the south while on fire... The young Feldwebel, fascinated by the fighting, does not realize that he is slowly descending on the side of the N10, overloaded with various military vehicles and troops on the march.
It is the turn of Grandbé's planes to attack a disintegrating German formation. Leutnant Hörst, who has taken command of the Gruppe - the first pass killed Major Teske - tries to save whatever he can: "Everyone, drop your bombs and turn around, we're going home! The northern Bordeaux vineyards will have a taste of TNT this year..."
The fighting is now scattered, with the Blochs engaging everything that comes within range of their weapons in the indescribable disorder of aerial jousts, until their ammunition runs out or their fuel alarm starts beeping.
Nine bombers and three fighters are counted as safe, but four others He 111s make forced landings all over occupied France, and among the planes that returned to their base, one Bf 110 and two He 111 are declared unsalvageable. Nice score for a dying squadron, Herr Göring, especially since the damage suffered by the GC II/8 is minimal, except for the youngster...
During his last pass, Sgt Rousselle hears a dull knocking in his engine...
Hit? Apparently not, he did not see anything and did not hear any bullet impact. But soon the pressures drop, a light grey smoke comes out of the openings, accompanied by streams of oil. Whatever the source, the drudge is hit, quickly, reduce the throttle and go south towards the field in max glide mode, flaps down one notch. The plane moves away from the battlefield, on fire...
The sky suddenly empties - this is one of the paradoxes of aerial combat: after a furious engagement, where the planes all seem to have to collided (which happens sometimes, but remains rare) masking the sky in a deafening roar of full throttle engines, strafing and explosions, all of a sudden there is silence... Corollas of parachutes descend slowly towards the ground, from where some smoke rises here and there, but the planes have all disappeared.

Meanwhile, in the calm that has returned, Keller returns to his environment and realizes that he is going down straight towards the National road, well cluttered with vehicles and especially, to his horror, uniforms and rifles that are pointing at him... A bullet whistles in his ears, a violent pain erupts in his shoulder, and an imperative cry that rises from the ground: "Hold fire! Hold fire, I said!" roars an infantry captain: "What are these ways of shooting a man in a parachute? What if it was one of our pilots?"
- It's a Kraut, I saw him jump from a bomber!" a rifleman replies.
The captain turns to the biffin, his eyes black: "You have a damn good sight, soldier! But anyway, a captured airman is more interesting than a dead Boche, he can talk! Pick him up, check if he is armed and take him to the nearest post."
When the young German makes contact with French soil, in the vineyards (Good, I'm carrying out the orders of the Reichsmarschall!" Keller thinks), he is quickly surrounded by soldiers and raises an arm in sign of surrender - the other arm is wounded, it is confirmed... The infantrymen take away his parachute and his service weapon, mistreat him a little and lead him to a truck. The German loses (not for everyone...) his leather headband and his scarf, but can climb into the vehicle, surrounded by hostile-looking guards.

Up there, in his downed Bloch, sergeant Rousselle worriedly watches his instruments for gliding, altimeter and vario especially. He feathers the propeller, cuts the engine contact but keeps the juice for the radio. In his headset, he listens to the advice from "Two Teeth", the call sign of Warrant Officer Marchais, who comes to help him after having exhausted (very efficiently) his ammunition.
- Cadet, did you cut the engine?
- I did.
- Then you must have a hose pissing on the exhaust, because you're always emitting black smoke from underneath, turn on your fire extinguisher.

Rousselle does so, but the switch remains stuck: "Extinguisher out of order!"
- Try again, you have flames now! Did you turn off the gas?
The gas! The lack of experience, the fact that in school we only simulated turning off the tap during breakdown training... No, he didn't think of that! feverishly, he looks for the valve, which of course resists... It's there! But it's a waste of time, a pipe has opened and feeds the fire. By spreading, helped by the circulating air, it causes the rupture of the oil hoses.
- Cadet! Your engine is burning more and more, what's the status?
- Gasoline cut off, but the fire extinguisher is still out!
- So, get ready to jump, I wasn't sure you could make it to the field, but with the fire as a bonus... And you can't land in the open, there are vines everywhere down there, not the slightest open space.

Marchais anticipates the young sergeant's wish, to wallow in a field. In the Bordeaux region, pastures are rare.
- Cadet, from Devo. Jump, that's an order!
This time, it is the captain who intervenes on the radio. There is no alternative: we must join those of the Caterpillar Club...
Canopy released, oxygen and radio unhooked, parachute pull tab engaged, harness undone, the young man puts the plane on its back, extracts his legs, takes his head out of the cockpit and a blow of stick to the front, which ejects him from his dear 152. A shock, the parachute opens, while the plane, distraught, goes into a spin...
Watching his fall, Rousselle blames himself: first sortie, and a downed aircraft! The Old man is going to give him a dressing down...

Precisely, on the field of Mérignac, commander Ponton d'Amécourt, leaning on his cane, is impatiently waiting for the returns. Three planes arrive in the circuit, green rocket - but before landing, each one makes a slow barrel roll... At least three victories, that's already nice, the old man smiles and lights his pipe. One by one, two by two or three by three, the other aircraft come back. Except for two which land directly, because of the damage to their fuselage, all of them complete the barrel roll! The commander counts the arrivals up to thirteen, and sighs. Only one lost and eleven victories? We'll have to find champagne, and in Bordeaux, it won't be easy...
The Blochs arrive at the parking lot, engines switched off, the pilots get off, warmly congratulated by their teams, a little joy in these difficult moments. The old man frowns, it is the young man, Rousselle, who is missing, he should not have sent him to the fire so quickly... Warrant Officer Marchais, the ace of the group, runs to him, suspecting what he thinks:
"Rousselle was swinging at the end of his parachute, commander, and if the biffins don't take him for a Boche, he'll be fine!"
The Commander smiles, and his smile widens when "Two Teeth" adds, "Even the youngster had his victory!"

The impressive results of the GC II/8 are due to several factors.
The detection of the enemy formation at more than 100 km from its goal thanks to the English radar installed in Bordeaux - it allowed the Blochs, poor climbers, to reach in time the altitude of the enemy, and even higher, thus allowing a real engagement tactic.
The overconfidence of the Luftwaffe command - eight Bf 110s were insufficient to cover the He 111 against modern single-engine aircraft.
The frontal pass, introduced by Vaublanc in view of the wide deployment of the enemy formation - it was deadly efficient, both by its firepower and by disorganizing the German group.
The 20 mm of the Bloch, well adapted to the German twin-engine guns - they proved to be much more effective than the 7.62 of the Hawk (especially), but also of the Hurricane or Spitfire, and even more efficient than the unique "gun engine" of the Morane and Dewoitine.
Plus a bit of luck, and above all the enthusiasm and experience of most of the II/8 pilots, some of which came from the DAT of Châteauroux.

Arrived on the ground, by chance, without incident, Rousselle, just like the unfortunate Keller, is put at gunpoint by soldiers. Shouting like a donkey, he pours out a flurry of swear words, the origin of which leaves no doubt to the rampant soldiery: "Ah, l'est bin d'cheu nous, çui-là!" The reception is then clearly better and one shares topettes and girls until a truck from the provost stops. Coincidentally, it is the one that carries the Luftwaffe's Feldwebel.
Confraternity of the airmen? Exhilarated by his victory (and the contents of the topettes), the young sergeant storms off so that the wounded man can be treated as quickly as possible. The truck will have to make a stop in a hospital before arriving in Bordeaux.
When the cadet enters the squadron's mess hall, the libations were well underway! At his sight, the cheers burst out. Grabbed by the elders, he is carried in triumph to the bar, where the commander, sitting on a high bistro chair, sips a glass of Pomerol... Worried, the cadet rectifies his position: "Sergeant Rousselle reporting for duty, sir!"
- Dismissed, sergeant, you'll do that tomorrow, tonight is a party! And congratulations on your victory, you'll be paying for the next round!
- Uh, but I lost my plane?
- So what? Were you going to keep it until the end of the war? You'll go tomorrow to the factory across the street to ask for a new one, they're happy anyway that we had so little damage... And then, they are starting to get used to it!... All the same, very practical...
he adds to himself.
Last edited:
July 1st, 1940

Rhone Valley
- The first German elements have just reached the second position of resistance of the Army of the Alps commanded by General Vichier-Guerre, between Vienne and Valence. Violent fighting takes place around Tain-l'Hermitage.
East of the Rhône, the German vanguards are stopped on the Isère (whose flow had been increased by the opening of the dams upstream), at the gates of Grenoble (Voreppe) and around Chambéry. Their losses are particularly heavy (1,400 men and about thirty tanks) under fire from the artillery at Voreppe and Les Echelles. General Halder reports to the OKH "We must think about the time needed to prepare more serious combat measures against the Savoy front and to continue operations against the French army with a strong left wing" - in fact, he hopes to obtain, during the strategic pause, the reinforcement of mountain troops.

Provence - The Regia Aeronautica suspends its attacks against Allied ports. For a week, its planes have indeed suffered heavy losses against the Dewoitine 520s defending Marseille and Toulon.
The anti-aircraft cruiser HMS Carlisle arrives in Marseille. It begins to spend its days cruising off the harbour and monitoring the airspace. During the first three weeks of July, her radar will provide valuable assistance to the defense of the Midi by providing early warnings and by directing fighter coverage.
July 1st, 1940

- During the night, 12 RAF Hampden bombers attack the naval base. Some bombs narrowly miss the battlecruiser Scharnhorst and two of them hit the heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen.
July 1st, 1940

- The government of Hungary declares that Romanian troops have violated Hungarian territory. It orders to mass forces at the border, immediately imitated by the Romanian government.
July 1st, 1940

- Meeting between the Belgian and Dutch Governments in exile. Paul-Henri Spaak (Belgian Minister of Foreign Affairs) proposes to help each other: "The Netherlands are, like Belgium, in a state of non-belligerence with Italy. Could the Koninklijke Marine contribute to the protection of our ships in the Mediterranean?
- I'm sorry, but that's impossible," replies Dutch Minister-President De Geer, with a gloomy face. "We cannot run the risk of a provocation. War is a great misfortune, and we must avoid at all costs to add further suffering to the tragedies already underway."
The Dutch Minister of National Defense, General Adriaan Dijxhoorn, does not open his mouth. Despite the attempts of the Belgians in his direction, he spends the entire discussion carefully examining his blank notebook. At the end of the meeting, the Dutch Minister of Foreign Affairs, Eelco Van Kleffens, discreetly takes Spaak aside: "You will have understood, dear friend, that the attitude of our Minister-President is at the origin of a real problem within our Government. But you can imagine that I can't tell you more about it... "
July 2nd, 1940

- Much has been written on the subject and the cinema has several times seized the episode to describe, sometimes complacently, the decadence of the last parliament of the IIIrd Republic and its members. "Yesterday, its name alone made people tremble, today here it lies... ". At the heart of the event, the odyssey of the Massilia is the symbol.
The liner Massilia, belonging to the Compagnie de Navigation Sud-Atlantique, was first chartered by the French government to organize the evacuation of the parliament via Bordeaux (Le Verdon). The "Sursaut" having changed the situation, the old ship (built in 1914) embarks a disparate crowd of soldiers, administrators, engineers... and takes them to Oran, before reaching Marseille, the designated place of concentration for the parliamentarians from Paris, the Loire, Toulouse...
Thus, on July 2, 1940, the liner with the three yellow and black chimneys, moored on the Quai de la Joliette, awaits its "cargo".
Under a blazing sun, the surviving members of parliament embark, their steps more or less heavy, some of them illustrate the origin of the expression "train of senators". The different ways of climbing the gangways would allow a sociologist to write a doctoral thesis on "the reaction of the Republican elites to a disaster".
In the small dining room on board, a summit conference takes place in a tense atmosphere.
- So, where are we? That is to say, how far along are we?" asks Edouard Herriot, president of the Chamber, with an air of annoyance. Opposite him, Jules Jeanneney, president of the Senate, listens, confidently,to the answer of the commander of the Republican Guard in charge of the security of the trip.
- If I count correctly, Mr. President, we are at 250 deputies and 100 senators, out of a total of 340 deputies and 154 senators.
- But my deputies are 604! What explains these... defections?
Herriot protests.
Sitting on his left, his chief of staff leafs through a thick file and states with accounting precision: "Hum... Out of 604 deputies elected in 1936, nearly 200 are prisoners of the enemy, deceased, untraceable, or, I remind you, imprisoned as members of the Communist Party that did not reject the German-Soviet Pact." He has a nervous laugh and continues: "In fact, these will soon follow us to Algeria... They even almost precede us!"
- And that makes you laugh!" explodes Herriot.
- No, no, Mr. President, apologizes his collaborator, confused... So, 422 deputies followed the government and presented themselves in Toulouse." He hesitates and continues nevertheless: "We must note that 82 have, uh, disappeared between Toulouse and Marseille..."
- Disappeared..." squeaks Herriot. "Deserted, yes, it is a question of pure and simple desertion, or perhaps even of treason! I am sure that there is underneath the call of an "oath charmer"...
- But, Mr. President, nothing indicates this with certainty... There could have been accidents...
- For some, perhaps",
admits with regret Edouard Herriot, "but for others I am sure of what I am saying. For men like Bergery, the military catastrophe is a divine blessing, just what they were waiting for to advance their pawns. When I think that I warmed that viper in my bosom! With the Marshal out of the picture, Laval was left to pull the strings. They are a little big, but in the present circumstances, anything can happen, even the inconceivable. Some French politicians seem to have forgotten that democracy is the only thing left when everything is lost." He sighs: "Still, eighty-two absentees! To do this to me!"
Jules Jeanneney coughs: "My dear president, you are not personally targeted... The Senate is unfortunately not in rest. As you know, senators are less inclined to adventure than their parliamentary counterparts, but they are not immune to the song of certain sirens..." Putting on his glasses, Jeanneney consults his notes and indicates: "Out of 303 senators, 229 have reached Toulouse and 154 have requested their embarkation this day, which, if I count correctly, means that 75 senators, like Alphonse Daudet's sub-prefect, have probably lingered in the fields between Occitania and Provence... "

At nightfall, the Massilia makes its way to Algiers. It carries towards freedom and exile, without much fanfare, the majority of what remains of the French legislative power: 235 deputies out of 340 and 102 senators out of 154. The others will spend two more days on metropolitan soil.
July 2nd, 1940

- Present in Toulouse, 82 deputies and 75 senators do not embark in Marseille.
They will remain known in history as "the 150" - even though there were 157 of them. According to history, they are the 150 traitors, the 150 cowards, the 150 lost...

"The 150! What a stigma is attached to this number! Decades later, it was enough to be one of them, whether one is actually one of these 150, or even a son, a son-in-law or a
to see any political ambition definitively broken, even at the local level, and the expression of the slightest opinion immediately contradicted. The Republic had won, but it held a grudge against those who had chosen not to follow it in the Grand Déménagement. It took many years for passions to subside and for these men to be viewed with a little more perspective.
Of course, the first names that come to mind: Vallat, Henriot, Scapini... are stamped - and rightly so - with the seal of the blackest treachery. Certainly, a small dozen others
participated in the sinister adventure of the Collaboration: Mourer, Chiappe, Lafaye, Creyssel, Zoretti... and hardly deserve more indulgence. For many others, their political motivations were varied, but hardly patriotic: the defeatists of the Drôle de Guerre like Montigny, Brille, Reibel or Marquet, the obtuse pacifists like Caillaux or Malvy, and especially those tempted by a New Order, whether they were SFIO (Burtin, Maffray), Republican Federation (Boucher, D'Aramon), Democratic Alliance (Gapiaud), Radical (René Chateau) or PSF (Ybarnegaray). And then, there were those who refused the Déménagement to make their business profitable, such as Cointreau (deputy of the Action Libérale of Maine-et-Loire), Gentin (radical-socialist deputy of Aube) or Bringer (conservative senator of Lozère).
But this far too long list should not be allowed to overshadow those who chose to stay for much more honorable reasons. Is it really fair then to put in the same bag as Henriot the senator-mayor of Tulle, De Chammard (Gauche Democratique), whose attitude full of courage and dignity during the terrible Christmas of 1941 forces to respect? To lower to the level of a Vallat the senator of the Marne, Patizel (radical socialist), who declared that he had "no right to abandon his constituency under the German boot, subject to vexations and impositions"? To put on the same level with a Mourer, the senator of the Bas-Rhin, d'Andlau de Hombourg (Union Républicaine), claiming that his "duty was to return to Alsace"? Or to assimilate to a Scapini the senator of the Puy-de-Dôme, Bardoux (independent radical), for whom "only the emigration of the combatants is legitimate, the others must share the sufferings of the people"?
In short, there was everything in the paths and intentions of these 82 deputies and 75 senators, from the most vile to the most noble, from the opportunist to the devoted.
[From La République est morte, vive la République! - The true novel of a rebirth, by Henri Amouroux, Editions Robert Laffont, Paris, 1992].
July 2nd, 1940

- The cruiser HMS Liverpool embarks the 2nd Battalion of the Black Watch, which it is to convoy to Aden. On the return journey, the cruiser has to load the entire reserve of 6-inch shells of the Eastern Fleet to bring it back to Alexandria. Wavell's decision to move this elite unit was made at the request of General Legentilhomme, who believed that this reinforcement would allow Djibouti to resist the Italian attacks indefinitely. However, the battalion will be maintained initially in Aden, ready to reinforce the CFS or Somaliland, depending on the urgency of the moment.
July 2nd, 1940

- The few aircraft of the GAM-CFS are reinforced by... three (!) Potez 631. Legend will claim that these unexpected reinforcements are immediately baptized Foi, Espoir and Charité, but the truth obliges to specify that this theological baptism is a pious lie of a chaplain; a photo of the period even allows us to distinguish on the nose of one of these aircraft a female figure very different from the usual representations of the Virgin Mary.
July 2nd, 1940

Tan-Son-Nhut Airfield (Saigon)
- Unloaded from the IFC train, the containers containing the DH-82s are trucked to a hangar. There, under the direction of Marcel Couratin and mechanic Marcel Degaud (both trainees at De Havilland), who arrived with Castex and the staff at the beginning of June, the boxes are emptied, and the biplanes are born again. It is now a question of assembling them, of checking and adjusting everything, before handing them over to the Royale instructors for a trial run. A good ten days will be necessary for the school to be declared operational.
July 2nd, 1940

- The large liner Île-de-France (launched in 1927, 23 knots) enters the port with a load of 75 and 105 shells from the American arsenals. It also carries four companies of the Colonial Infantry (the equivalent of a large battalion). They were formed in Martinique and Guadeloupe with recruits who had just finished their classes and freshly mobilized soldiers of classes 19, 20 and 21.
Decommissioned in New York in the fall of 1939 next to the Normandie, the Île-de-France, a somewhat old glory of the French Line, was rearmed in March 1940 and then transformed in Marseille into a troop and equipment carrier. From now on she will operate the Casablanca - United States route, with crossings of six and a half days on average. It was considered at the Admiralty that it is fast enough to escape the U-Boats and avoid the slowness of sailing in convoy.
It should be back at sea on July 4th, after unloading and provisioning. It will have on board only about thirty passengers, including three engineers and five technicians from the SFR: they have been charged to teach their colleagues from General Electric the secrets of the development of water-cooled radio lamps. Already successfully used in Allouis, these lamps, whose manufacture is now entrusted to America, will have to equip the transmitter which will be built in Tipasa, in Algeria.
July 2nd, 1940

Western Mediterranean
- Subjected for several days to the constant pressure of the Armée de l'Air, the Aeronautics of Sardinia react by conducting night raids against the Corsican airfields, without obtaining convincing results. Its chief, general Ottorino Vespignani, asks his main subordinate, General Stefano Cagna, who commands the 10th Marte Bombardment Brigade, to strike harder. The latter mounts a double operation against the airfields of Calvi and Ajaccio.
As many French fighters are now based in Corsica and the Sardinian fighters having been annihilated, it is a night attack. Around 02:30 (Italian time), Calvi is the target of sixteen SM.79 of the 8th and 32nd Stormo BT (ten and six aircraft), led by General Cagna in person. At the same time, Ajaccio is attacked by nine of the nineteen Cant Z.506b which remain in the 31st Stormo BM (the availability rate of these seaplanes is very low because of the poor quality of their engines).
For propaganda, it will be "a massive operation", but this double raid is massive only in name. In addition to the finally modest number of planes involved, the doctrine of night use of the bombers foresees that they take off at such intervals that no collision is to be feared, which gives very loose formations and in the end, not a mass attack, but as many individual bombings as planes. The danger of the regulatory method is that, if the first planes can surprise the enemy's flak, the last ones to arrive, they generally run up against the well awakened gunners.
At Calvi, however, all the SM.79s escape the reaction of the flak, but at Ajaccio, the penultimate Cant, hit by the 75 AA of the Capitello battery, has to make an emergency landing (the crew is made prisoner after having destroyed the plane). However, the two raids obtain some results. In Ajaccio, two Bloch MB-210 bombers are destroyed and barrels of gasoline are burnt. In Calvi, a Martin 167 of the GR I/61 (recently redeployed from North Africa) is destroyed and three slightly damaged; the Groupement d'Observation de Corse lose a Potez 63.11 and a Mureaux 117.
However, the main effect of this Italian reaction was to lead the French to intensify their attacks the next day to definitively reduce to impotence the Aeronautics of Sardinia.
Not open for further replies.