Fantasque Time Line (France Fights On) - English Translation

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July 11th, 1940

- While the defenders of Voreppe cling desperately under the constant bombing and shelling, in Grenoble, the destruction of the 35,000 tons of ammunition in the artillery park (or rather, what was left of it after a partial evacuation and a generous distribution to the forts and the troops of the Armée des Alpes) continues at a frenetic pace. One inhabitant of the city would refer to it as "the biggest fireworks display I have ever seen."
This is actually an error in translation.
I did wonder about that, but no one else noticed, so I took it at face value - and had to call it out

As to the western route: "heading southwest past the Balearic Islands to Oran" seems more accurate. "Before plunging south" implies a course change which doesn't happen. But that's a nit.
June 25th, 1940[2] Noguès cannot be unaware that scipions, or supions, are small cephalopods eaten as an aperitif on all the good zincs of North Africa. This detail will surely be noted by the North African troops.
'good zincs'? Is a 'zinc' some kind of slang for a piece of tableware or crockery in French?
June 28th, 1940

Evacuating a country
- The evacuation of the troops from the mainland continues on a massive scale.

Atlantic ports
- On the Atlantic coast, Operation Aerial continues. Under the operational command of Admiral James (commander of the Royal Navy in Portsmouth), who directs the the Channel...
'the the Channel'. One too many 'the'.
June 25th, 1940 Operation Scipion is launched [2].
This post again. I see the operation referred to in later posts as 'Operation Scipio', not 'Operation Scipion'. (The difference is a letter 'n'.) This may not be an error, however, since military operations are occasionally prone to name changes, and I may have missed something to this effect.
This post again. I see the operation referred to in later posts as 'Operation Scipio', not 'Operation Scipion'. (The difference is a letter 'n'.) This may not be an error, however, since military operations are occasionally prone to name changes, and I may have missed something to this effect.
Scipion = Scipio. In french, sometimes the translation adds a "n" the english name. For example, Frodo = Frodon in the french translation. Please do not ask me why, for i will be compelled to acknowledge ignorance regarding this matter.
July 12th, 1940

- Kuusinen, formerly head of the Terijoki government supported by the Soviets, is appointed president of the Soviet Republic of Finnish Karelia, established in the territories acquired at the expense of Finland by the treaty of March 13th, 1940.
July 12th, 1940

Western Mediterranean, 03:05
- The AP.1 convoy and the Courbet leave Gibraltar for Alexandria, escorted by six destroyers that have come especially from the Eastern Mediterranean, the HMS Hereward, Hero, HMAS Stuart, Vampire, Waterhen and ORP (Polish) Garland.
19:25 - When it reaches the coast of Oran, the AP.1 is joined by three French transports with weapons and equipment for General Mittelhauser's troops, but also by the aircraft carrier Béarn and the destroyers of the 7th TD: Tornade, Tramontane and Typhon. The transports are the recent cargo ships Calédonien and Indochinois (both 6,966 GRT and 16 knots) and the banana boat Maurienne (3 259 GRT, 15 knots).
The convoy will be protected against any Italian attempt from the Oran area until the junction with the Alexandria fleet by a British squadron known as Force H, composed in part of ships already present in Gibraltar (light cruiser HMS Arethusa, destroyers Active, Keppel, Vidette, Vortigern and Wrestler) and for part of the units temporarily detached from the Home Fleet (aircraft carrier HMS Ark Royal, battleship Resolution, light cruiser Enterprise, destroyers Escort, Faulknor, Fearless, Foresight, Forester and Foxhound). The French Navy is not to be outdone and commits a squadron with battleships Bretagne and Provence, light cruisers Jean-de-Vienne and Marseillaise and seven destroyers (Mogador, Volta, L'Audacieux, Le Fantasque, Le Terrible, Boulonnais and Brestois). On the French side, the whole operation (transfer of the Béarn and Courbet to Alexandria, coverage of the AP.1 convoy) is named "Ventail" (part of the helmet allowing one to breathe) on the proposal of a staff officer with a passion for the Middle Ages.
All these movements did not escape the attention of the Italians, who have several submarines operating off the coast of North Africa: while none of them manage to get close enough to attack, they can alert Supermarina, who immediately orders to send two squadrons of MAS already gathered in Porto Empedocle, the 10th (MAS-516 to 519) from Messina and the 12th (MAS-520 to 519) from La Spezia, eight units in total.
July 12th, 1940

Strait of Sicily
- The passage of the AP.1 convoy being planned for the night of July 13th to 14th, the French undertake, in the night of the 11th to the 12th, to open a channel in the minefield of the "Elia" type that the Italians had laid between Lampedusa and the Kerkennah. Gradually assembled at Sfax, the auxiliary minesweepers Aigrette (AD233), La Coubre (AD168), Enseigne (AD257), Gascogne (AD256), Héron II (AD166) and Ravignan (AD279), as well as the Méduse II, clear a passage which they will widen the following night.
July 12th, 1940

Eastern Mediterranean
- The Belgian steamer Portugal (1 550 GRT), returning from the Indian Ocean, is sunk by gunfire in broad daylight, despite its clearly visible Belgian flags, by the Italian submarine Squalo.
435 - Naval Battle of Benghazi
July 12th, 1940

Central Mediterranean, 03:10
- Following the report sent the day before by the MB-174 of the evening patrol, a Sunderland of Sqn 230 leaves Malta to find the missing liners.
04:00 - The Combined Attack Force of Malta, composed of 23 Glenn-Martin 167 and 9 Laté-298 seaplane bombers, is put on alert.
04:45 - A Martin 167 of the B4 squadron takes off for a reconnaissance over Benghazi.
06:50 - The Sunderland having reported a deserted sea and the Martin 167 having found the port of Benghazi empty, another Glenn-Martin is sent to search the sea east of Benghazi, from Cape Matapan to the Libyan coast. Two more will (as every day) patrol along this coast. Finally, 9 Martin 167s and 6 Laté-298s are prepared for a raid and loaded with bombs (with two 150 kg bombs instead of their torpedo, the range of the seaplanes is longer). Among the seaplane pilots, Chief Petty Officer René Leblanc. "I hope we'll hurt them," he told his comrades as they left Karouba for Malta a few days earlier. "In early June, when they said that all we had to do was to give them the thumbs up, I had decided to desert to go and fight with the British if necessary. I would never have agreed to go quietly! I was furious, and the Italians are going to find out that I'm still furious!"
09:05 - One of the Martin 167s sent to patrol the Libyan coast reports that it has shot down a CANT Z.501, probably on an ASM patrol mission, 30 nautical miles off Benghazi [1].
This message provokes an animated discussion between the officers commanding the allied air force in Malta. For some, the probability that the two large fast liners that had left Taranto the day before would be launched in a supply operation to Benghazi is high.
"If we haven't detected them yet," they say, "it's because they sailed along the Greek coast before diving southwest to reach Benghazi." But others are skeptical. "A Z.501 that seemed to be looking for submarines, so what? It's a coincidence. Taranto-Benghazi with two liners, it would be suicide! The disproportion of forces is too great for them to have a chance to get away with it, and they know it! It is likely that they dashed to Trieste, because they are going to look for troops in the north of Italy to lead them to Sicily. We should patrol the Straits of Otranto to catch them when they return." On the other hand, if Laté-298s loaded with bombs can go from Malta to Benghazi and even a little further, they don't have enough range to wait over the harbor for the liners to show up. This is why some RAF officers propose to send another Sunderland to search the sea between Benghazi and Greece. But the big four-engine seaplane will reach this area only 2 hours 30 or 2 hours 45 minutes after taking off from Malta.
09:40 - The Sunderland takes off from the Valletta seaplane base and heads straight east. It will be helped a little in its mission by a strong westerly breeze (30 knots).
11:10 - Six Glenn-Martin 167s loaded with bombs take off. They will be in the vicinity of Benghazi at about the same time as the Sunderland starts patrolling and will be ready to attack whatever the seaplane can detect. If the Sunderland sees nothing, they will bomb the port of Benghazi.
11:15 - From Alexandria, Admiral Cunningham informs Malta that a small squadron consisting of the light cruisers HMS Orion, HMS Neptune, HMAS Sydney and MN Duguay-Trouin, escorted by the destroyers HMS Hasty, Havock, Hyperion and Ilex, which was to bombard Tobruk at night, was diverted and heads west to intercept any Italian convoy trying to reach Benghazi after having skirted the Greek coast.
12:01 - The anxious wait is broken by a call from the Sunderland, which reports that it was attacked by two enemy twin-engine fighters, which they identify as "Italian '110s".
Fortunately for the crew, they were in fact two prototypes of the Fiat CR.25 long-range fighter, which only have two 12.7 mm machine guns in their noses and not the much heavier armament of the Messerschmitt Zerstörer. In a desperate gesture of the Regia Aeronautica, the two aircraft had been sent two days earlier to Benghazi to protect naval traffic, and have not yet been seen by Allied aircraft. The big seaplane confronts the two fighters for fifteen minutes. One of them is severely damaged by the four machine guns of its tail turret (it will land on its belly in Benghazi) and the other one finally gives up, fed up (and out of ammunition), leaving the the seaplane with two dead and three wounded out of a crew of ten, plus an engine on fire.
12:09 - In the middle of the battle, the stubborn Sunderland finally reports: "Five fast ships heading towards Benghazi". In reality, it was eight Italian ships, now travelling at more than 31 knots: around the two luxury liners Rex and Conte di Savoia, the light cruisers Bande Nere and Colleoni (2nd Cruiser Division, Admiral Ferdinando Casardi), the large destroyers Da Recco and Usodimare (16th Squadron) and the destroyers Grecale and Maestrale (10th Squadron). This fleet takes to Benghazi nearly 6,500 men (including 2,000 Blackshirts), several hundred tons of shells, twelve 100-mm field guns, eight 155-mm howitzers and Breda 37/54 modello 39 anti-aircraft guns. As some officers assumed, the Italians sailed along the Greek coast for part of the night, before heading southwest to reach their goal.
The damaged Sunderland cannot follow the Italian squadron, but the information is passed on to the Martin 167s, which were only 40 minutes away, and the six Laté-298s are ordered to take off towards Benghazi.
12:25 - The Italian convoy is joined by the four ships of the 1st CT Division (Aquilone, Euro, Nembo and Turbine), coming from Tobruk.
12:51 - The day is beautiful, the cloud cover is low (2/10) and the sea glittering like a vacation postcard, but the two ships are not on a pleasure cruise. The six Martin 167s attack from 3,000 feet against a violent but inaccurate flak. The French probably underestimated the speed of the Italian ships and none of the bombs hit their target, although the Colleoni is closely surrounded. Frustrated, the twin-engines execute a strafing pass, sweeping the decks of the liners and cruisers. Then they track the convoy for 50 minutes before leaving for Malta, sure that the squadron was continuing towards Benghazi.
13:05 - In Malta, the three other Glenn-Martin 167s put on alert take off in turn.
14:10 - Happy to have escaped the attack of the first Martin 167, the Italian ships approach Benghazi, welcomed by the four torpedo boats of the 11th Squadron. These arrived from Tobruk at dawn and set up an ASW patrol with the help of two Cant Z.501 which escaped the Allied air raids.
14:28 - Leaving the torpedo boats to patrol, the light cruisers dock while the liners, too large to do the same, begin to anchor in the port of Benghazi, where light boats are waiting to pick up passengers and cargo.
The eight destroyers remain at the entrance to the port. At that moment, the air raid alarm sounds a second time. The six French seaplanes attack in the middle of the harbour, despite a furious flak. They follow the attack profile that a long training had allowed to be defined, diving from 1,800 feet at 45° before straightening at 650 feet. The first element of three aircraft frame the Conte di Savoia and hit the Colleoni at the stern, igniting a violent fire. The second element, led by René Leblanc, descended even lower before exiting the dive.
Under a hail of gunfire of all calibers, Leblanc's plane places its two 150 kg bombs in the middle of the Rex and straightens up at the level of the masts, but, riddled with blows, it catches fire and crashes into the harbour, killing its crew (Leblanc and Quartermaster Jacques Méhouas). The two other Laté-298 follow their leader almost to the end. A third bomb hits the Rex, on which a fire spreads rapidly, and another hits the dock just in front of the Bande Nere, showering the superstructure of the cruiser with deadly shrapnel.
14:35 - When the French seaplanes move away, the situation in the port of Benghazi is grim. Hit three times, the Rex burns from one end to the other of its 268 meters. The
thousands of soldiers trapped on board try to save themselves by jumping into the water, but some jump from too high and kill themselves. The Colleoni also burns and its commander, Captain di Vascello Novaro, orders that all the army ammunition he is carrying be thrown into the sea.
The destroyers Grecale and Maestrale try to assist the two burning ships, but if the cruiser's crew gradually bring the fire under control, the liner is not designed to withstand the impact of three 150 kg bombs...
14:55 - The three Martin 167s which left Malta at 13:05 attack in turn. It seems that the Rex is hit again, this time by at least one and possibly two 50 kg bombs, disrupting fire-fighting efforts. The large destroyer Da Recco is framed without much damage. However, the psychological effect of this bombardment is important.
15:00 - Admiral Casardi now considers the situation hopeless. He can expect nothing else other than more air raids against his ships if he stays in Benghazi any longer. And hasn't the Allied fleet based in Alexandria been alerted? Casardi orders the Conte di Savoia to disembark all its passengers as quickly as possible and informs the other ships that they should throw into the water all the supply boxes they are carrying and that they cannot disembark in less than two hours, hoping that the services of the port can recover some of them.
17:05 - Casardi decides to leave Benghazi. The Rex is still burning and obviously cannot be saved. The Colleoni, which has just succeeded in controlling its fire, is ordered to leave as soon as possible, together with the four units of the 1st Squadron.
17:11 - The Bande Nere, followed by the Conte di Savoia (which still has the artillery pieces it was carrying on board), the Da Recco, the Usodimare, the Grecale and the Maestrale, leave the port and sail away, accompanied by the four torpedo boats of the 11th Squadron, which continue their anti-submarine patrol. As the ten ships set course for Greece, three Glenn-Martin 167s bomb the harbour (they are planes of the GB I/39, based in Egypt).
No ship is hit, but these new bombs add to the confusion. Since the previous alert, the last two Fiat CR.32s operational in the Benghazi area climbed up to 4,500 metres; by diving, they manage to intercept the attackers. One of the bombers, seriously hit, has to land on its belly near Sidi-Barani.
17:35 - Three Laté-298 from Malta attack Benghazi again, this time escorted by two Martin 167. The seaplanes attack in a steep dive and throw themselves on the Rex, because the Turbine had set up a smoke screen that hid the Colleoni, still at the quay. The unfortunate liner receives a new 150 kg bomb. A Laté, hit by the flak, is able to return to Malta, but it crashes on landing.
The two CR.32 which returned from intercepting the planes of GB I/39 start to chase the seaplanes, but are surprised by the two Martin 167. One is shot down over the harbor, while the other one manages to outmaneuver the twin-engine plane chasing it, faster but less agile than it.
20:00 - The night puts an end to the air attacks, but the Italians know that the Allied ships are running after them!
22:05 - After more than four hours of frantic work, the Colleoni is able to leave Benghazi, escorted by the Aquilone, Euro, Nembo and Turbine. The five ships are sailing due north at 25 knots.
23:04 - The Italian lookouts spot five ships to starboard - obviously enemy. Novaro orders to increase speed to 30 knots.
23:15 - The lookouts now count eight ships, which are not letting themselves get outpaced.
23:24 - Flares begin to illuminate the Italians. Novaro orders to go up to maximum speed and to come to 310, while the destroyers try to create a smoke curtain.
23:35 - The allied formation splits in two to envelop its opponents. The Colleoni is soon surrounded, but the cruiser, whose motto is Veloce e Veemente, responds tit for tat and its shells did not fall far from its closest enemy, HMS Neptune.
23:37 - The four units of the 1st Destroyer Squadron split into two pairs (Turbine/Aquilone and Nembo/Euro) and try to gain a favorable position for a torpedo attack against the two groups of Allied cruisers. Their movement attract a prompt reaction from the British destroyers.
23:44 - The destroyers Hyperion and Ilex, accompanying the pair HMS Neptune and MN Duguay-Trouin, engage the Turbine and Aquilone with cannon fire, preventing them from positioning themselves to launch any attack against the cruisers. The Hasty and Havock, following HMS Orion and HMAS Sydney, oppose the Nembo and Euro.
23:46 - The Orion and Sydney concentrate their fire on the Italian cruiser, while the distance falls to 9,000 metres.
23:49 - The commander of the Euro decides to launch their torpedoes against the British destroyers. But, applying Italian combat tactics, he launches only two torpedoes at each of them, and the two British destroyers avoid them without difficulty. The Euro, more or less disarmed, can only seek its salvation in flight (which at least has the effect of allowing to fire with its intact turret, at the rear), pursued by the Hasty. On the other hand, the dodging maneuvers of the British leave the way clear for the Nembo, which impetuously rushes towards the Orion.
23:50 - In the artillery exchange between the Hyperion and Ilex and the Turbine and Aquilone luck smiles to the Italian gunners. Two shells from the Aquilone disable the forward guns of the Hyperion.
23:51 - As the Nembo is about to launch its torpedoes, the Orion, abandoning the Colleoni, turns towards this new adversary. The distance decreases very quickly and the fire of the British cruiser is immediately accurate.
23:53 - While it has just launched its load, the Nembo receives a shell of 6 inches in its engine room and its speed drops abruptly.
23:54 - The Nembo's attack is not enough to protect the Colleoni, as the Sydney is not distracted: two of her shells hit the Italian light cruiser and penetrates boilers 3 and 4. A fire breaks out and the ship slows down. Meanwhile, the Orion, moving at full speed, avoids the torpedoes of the Nembo.
23:54 to 23:56 - The Orion pounds the Nembo, which is left in flames and motionless on the water. The cruiser then turns its fire on the Colleoni.
Meanwhile, the Euro's rear turret works wonders against the Hasty. The ship is hit twice (without any damage) and the British destroyer does not insist.
23:58 - Between them, the Sydney and the Orion put at least four other shots on target on the superstructure of the Colleoni. The latter is now burning furiously and its speed has dropped to 22 knots.
Meanwhile, the Neptune and Duguay-Trouin begin to support their destroyers against the Turbine and Aquilone. The latter are grazed by several 6-inch and 155 mm shells.
Uncomfortable, they decide to take advantage of a lucky shot on the Ilex (hit by the Turbine in the dynamos compartment) to get out of there and join the Euro.
23:59 to 00:09 - Guided by the flames, HMS Neptune and MN Duguay-Trouin hit the Colleoni several times. The Italian cruiser, which was only making 12 knots and whose rear turrets have been silenced, came to the 40, facing the Sydney and the Orion. It is possible that Capitano Novaro is trying to open the angle of fire of the turrets or to cover the escape of his destroyers, which he has been ordering for several minutes to get out as quickly as possible. The range falls to 5,000 metres and the last two Italian salvos are directed at the Sydney. But the Australian answers with a shower of shells, because his 4 inch AAs are now in range.
On her side, the Havock, having come back to her cruisers - she will be reprimanded for not having helped the Hasty to finish off the Euro - finishes off the Nembo with a torpedo (or rather two, the first one having hit the target without exploding). After the battle, the Allied ships would collect only 87 survivors of the crew of the brave ship, which broke in two before sinking.
00:13 - As the Colleoni comes to 120, it is hit by a torpedo from the Duguay-Trouin, which stops it dead in its tracks.
00h17 - The Colleoni capsizes and sinks, leaving only 112 survivors, who are rescued by English destroyers. But it did not fight in vain, because the Aquilone, Euro and Turbine escape in the darkness. They reach Taranto safely.
At about the same time as the Colleoni sank, nine Farman 223.3 heavy bombers of GB II/15 attacked Benghazi, setting part of the city on fire. Despite this new blow, teams of Italian divers try to recover the ammunition boxes thrown into the harbour. They continue their efforts over the following days, but only find some of them.
At the end of the night, the large hulk of the Rex, completely burnt out, capsizes. The Italians manage, after ten days of effort, to recover two of the 100 mm guns and three of the 155 mm howitzers that the ship was carrying.

Note - Most of this story is taken from the article "Failing the King - The destruction of the Rex and the Colleoni", by C.V. Nicolas Le Bolc'h, Revue d'Histoire Militaire, June 1960.
We know that the fate of the Rex and the Colleoni inspired Federico Fellini for his magnificent E la Nave va, where a liner that looks very much like the Rex suffers the fate of the Colleoni, crushed by shells of a much more powerful enemy. This is the same Rex that majestically passed by on the horizon in Amarcord, when the fascist regime believed itself invincible...

[1] The crews of the Aéronavale then used their Glenn-Martin 167s in a very offensive way against the Italian aircraft, helped by their good performance, their good flight characteristics (especially when not loaded with bombs) and their four fixed 7.5 mm machine guns.
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June 12th, 1940

Libya (Tripolitania)
- Artillery fire and aerial bombardments continue on the positions of the 5th Italian Army (General Italo Gariboldi), which defend the border with Tunisia on a front of almost 180 km, but the French are still satisfied with probing attacks.
To the north of this front, with the border guards of the 29th Settor di Copertura, the XX Corps (General Federico Cona) aligns the 17th DI Pavia, the 27th DI Brescia and the 61st DI Sirte. The Pavia is stationed near the sea; it suffers intense land, naval and air bombardments, which is why Graziani ordered that it be supported by the Sirte. Further inland, the Brescia seems less threatened.
To the south of the front, as far as Nalut, with the 28th Settor di Copertura, the X Corps (General Alberto Barbieri) aligns the 25th ID Bologna, the 55th ID Savona and the 60th ID Sabratha. The first two are in front, Sabratha is in reserve.
Further south, as on the French side, there are only the sands of the Sahara, with a few forts in the distance.
The XXIII Corps (General Annibale Bergonzoli) forms the army reserve with the 1st and 2nd Blackshirt Divisions (CC.NN.), known as XXIII Marzo and XXVIII Ottobre, but the corps is transferred to Cyrenaica on June 16th. If the XXIII Marzo was recalled on the 28th, it is still on the roads, because they are not very safe and the Italians lack trucks.
Finally, the garrison of Tripoli is made up of the 2nd Libyan Colonial Division (General Battalion, the 30th Mixed Artillery Rgt (against aircraft and land targets) and the border guards of the 31st and 32nd Settori di Copertura.
Impressive on paper, these forces are less so in reality. The strength of the six divisions of the Regio Esercito are often a quarter or even a third less than the theoretical strength. The Black Shirt divisions are fully manned thanks to the dissolution in May of the 3rd Division XXI Aprile, but this normal strength is only 6,000 men (about half that of a Regio Esercito division) and if their armament was similar to that of the regular troops, their training is much lower quality. The 2nd Libyan Division is also under-strength, with less than 6,000 well-trained but poorly armed troops. In all, the 5th Army has about 90,000 men.
The artillery of the Regio Esercito in Libya has 500 pieces, including more than 300 on the Tunisian front, but it is s severely lacking in ammunition above 75 mm and is even more lacking in anti-tank and anti-aircraft guns. The so-called armored vehicles are numerous, nearly three hundred and fifty, of which more than 200 are on the Tunisian front, but they are mainly L.3 (or CV.33) [1] tankettes. The MS-406 put up by the French Air Force will owe to the L3 an ephemeral career as anti-tank aircraft, because the armor of the tankettes is not resistant to their 20 mm gun... Is it necessary to specify that these small machines are perfectly powerless against the French D1 and R-35 tanks, although these are not the highest quality in armoured weapons?
Moreover, the availability of all vehicles, and especially trucks, is poor - the mobility of these forces is therefore very low.

[1] In addition, there are seven Fiat Libia armored cars and eight small Fiat 3000 tanks, copies of the old FT-17
July 12th, 1940

Western France
- The German 18th Army completes its preparations for the resumption of the offensive. The panzers of von Wietersheim and Hoth, rested and completed, leave their resting zones to reach their departure base south of Poitiers. In view of the last offensive of the campaign, Guderian himself comes to lead them and coordinate their actions.

Rhone Valley - All the part of the city of Valence which borders the Rhone is subjected to a violent artillery bombardment. This time, the French do not react.
On the downstream course of the Isère, the Germans attempt a new breakthrough at Romans,but their columns, on a terrain where it is difficult to deploy, make good targets for the heavy artillery on the railroad tracks, which cause significant losses. In the evening, the bridges of Romans are blown up, except for the railway bridge. This one is the last standing bridge over the Isère between Grenoble and the Rhône.

Alps - Upstream of the Isère, after three days of heroic defense, the artillerymen of Voreppe are crushed under aerial bombardmen and Halder thinks that his men will be able to pass.
But on the road to Grenoble, the mountain infantry is constantly harassed and has to clear the accesses meter by meter. The panzers, who, as usual, cut through the fields, find themselves blocked between the mountains and the Isère, and the infantry that accompanies them suffers greatly under the deadly fire of the mortars firing from the fort of the Bastille. The city of Grenoble itself has been evacuated by the Armée des Alpes, which is preparing its withdrawal to Briançon and the defense line of the Maurienne, but the forts have not been cleared.
July 12th, 1940

- The representatives of the Spanish Republican government in exile leave French territory. After long and bitter discussions, Juan Negrin will officially reside in Casablanca, while Companys settles in Oran, in front of his dear Catalonia.
President Azaña decides to go to Mexico so as not to disturb the French government by his presence on its territory. From Mexico City, he maintains close contact with the authorities, divided between the "realists" camp, who maintain that Franco's neutrality is an essential asset for the Allied war effort, and the "pro-Republicans", who Eleanor Roosevelt, the wife of the President, was certainly the best known personality.
July 12th, 1940

- The Dutch Minister-President, Dirk Jan de Geer, announces his intention to send emissaries to sound out German peace terms via Sweden "in order to avoid further suffering". As early as June 4th, he had declared to a shocked Churchill that in his opinion "peace with Germany [was] inevitable".
To win the support of his colleagues, de Geer puts his resignation on the line, but the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Eelco Nicolaas van Kleffens, vigorously opposes any idea of negotiating with Germany, followed by the majority of the cabinet.
Despite this setback, the Minister-President does not resign.
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