Fantasque Time Line (France Fights On) - English Translation

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June 12th, 1940

Château de Beauvais
- As soon as De Gaulle returns, a conference organized with General Doumenc (for the General Staff of the National Defense) and General Colson (Chief of Staff of the Army of the Interior [1]), gives a relatively optimistic result: with British aid and the total commitment of the fleet, at least 500,000 men could be evacuated from the Mediterranean and the Atlantic coast to North Africa.
Margerie calls at that moment to inform De Gaulle that a Council of Ministers was scheduled for the evening at the Château de Cangé, the residence of Albert Lebrun. "This is the crucial moment, General. We are certainly going to face a real offensive from the defeatists, under the leadership of Pétain. We have deprived him of Weygand's support and he feels that our position around the President of the Council is increasingly solid. He will therefore try to force the course of events, taking advantage of the fact that General Georges, faced with the enemy advance, had just ordered a general retreat of the forces located on the Seine and in Normandy. Mr. Herriot and Jeanneney assured us this morning of their support, but how could we further strengthen President Reynaud's resolution? Without doubt, he is with us in spirit, but he is exhausted and you know that he has been very affected... I fear a fit of pessimism in him...."
- Advise him to call General Noguès [resident general in Morocco and commander-in-chief of the troops in North Africa]." suggested De Gaulle." I am convinced that he will use the firm language necessary."

At the end of the afternoon, before leaving for Cangé, Reynaud, in the company of Margerie and Leca, manages to reach Noguès, to whom he informed of the pressure from "defeatist circles who want an immediate armistice." Noguès's response was indeed most firm: "All of North Africa is dismayed by such a prospect. The troops ask to continue the fight." At around 1900, Noguès sends an encrypted cable in which he confirms his dispositions and added that they were shared by the resident general in Tunisia, Peyrouton, and the governor general of Algeria, Le Beau. During the night, messages also arrive from the High Commissioner in Syria, Puaux, and from General Mittelhauser (commander of the French forces in the French forces in the Middle East), which said things along the same line as the Noguès cable.
At 2000, just as he was leaving for Cangé, Reynaud receives a new call. It was Churchill, who had spoken to De Gaulle at the end of the afternoon: "A crucial Council of Ministers will be held tonight", the General told him. "The fate of my country is in the balance. But know this, Mr. Prime Minister, whatever the outcome of this meeting, France will not abandon you, even if I remain her only standard-bearer." After dwelling on the meaning of meaning of De Gaulle's words for two hours, the Prime Minister felt that he had to do something: "I could see France capitulating," he told his colleagues, "and De Gaulle arriving in London saying that he was continuing the war on his own! We would have been massively set back!" This is why Churchill personally called Paul Reynaud to assure him that Great Britain would "fraternally" support all the efforts of the French government to continue the war. "I ask for all your efforts, under all circumstances! I know that that the situation of your country is dramatic, but you must not give up! he exclaimed. Mr. President of the Council, hold firm! Hold firm! I appeal to the honor of France!" he concludes, recalling the words of Joffre calling out to French at the worst moments of summer 1914. Much later, Paul Reynaud would write in his memoirs: "This call left a deep impression on me. The dreadful accent of the English Prime Minister gave to his dramatic remarks a comical touch that only made them more impressive."
So it was a grieving but determined Reynaud who went to Cangé, taking Margerie, Leca and Jeanneney in his car. Mandel followed in his own official vehicle with Herriot and Blum, who were joined at the last moment by Jules Moch. The latter informed them that he had been able to talk with Admiral Darlan on June 3rd and that Darlan had told him: "If we ask for armistice, I will end my career with a splendid act of indiscipline. I will take command of the and we will go to England!" Mandel then informs the other passengers that he had taken the necessary steps, together with Margerie, to ensure that "force would remain in the hands of the republican authorities."
At Cangé, refreshments are served in the château's salon. Moch repeats to Reynaud what he had just told Blum, Herriot and Mandel. The latter assured himself of the loyalty of other ministers: Pernot, Queuille and Jules-Julien [2].

[1] He commands the Army units and sites in the geographical area known as "the interior" (the rear), as opposed to the geographical area known as "the armies" (the front).
[2] Respectively: Minister of Health and French Families, Minister of Supply and Minister of the Postal Service, Telegraph, Telephone and Transmissions.
June 12th, 1940

Red Sea
- At the beginning of the night, Italian submarine Ferraris is surprised on the surface by at least one British destroyer. During the rapid dive, a false maneuver caused seawater to enter the battery room, seriously damaging the batteries. The ship was able to return to Massawa, but it would take two months to repair it. The Ferraris is the first, but not the last, ship of the IEA fleet to experience the slowness of local repair facilities.
June 12th, 1940

- Nine Blenheim I of Sqn 8 coming from Aden attack the airfield of Macaaca, near Assab. A hangar and several Italian planes are damaged. In the evening, five old Vickers Vincent of the same unit hit the same target, starting several fires.
June 12th, 1940

- Light Cruiser Emile-Bertin sets out on a new voyage from Brest to Halifax (its previous voyage was on May 21st) with 254 tons in gold bars and coins. It is one of the many convoys that are destined to put the gold of the Banque de France in safe hands.
June 12th, 1940

- General Gamelin and his wife, as well as Commandant Petibon, spend the night at the Hotel Aletti. At 1100, a Caudron Goéland taking off from Maison-Blanche
takes the former Generalissimo and his wife to Biskra, "the Gateway to the Desert". Two rooms and a bathroom forming a suite were requisitioned for them at the Hotel Transatlantique: after having inaugurated the Déménagement, Gamelin was the first of the defeated generals to be the target of a measure of "saharage". General de Gaulle, who was still grateful for having him appointed to command the 4th DCR despite the five stripes he was wearing at the time [1], ordered that special treatment be given to the former generalissimo [2].
Summoned to the headquarters of the Military Region, Commandant Petibon learns that he had been appointed to head a reinforcement battalion of the 4th Zouaves, in Tunis, which he was to join the next day. He is not told that this battalion, which is in the process of being formed, is composed of for the time being, of only a warrant officer retired since 1929, recalled to duty due to circumstances, two sergeants, one of whom was a former member of the Joyeux [3], eight corporals and twenty soldiers at the most. While waiting for something better, their armament was limited to musketoons from the depots for training purposes, two FM Chauchat guns without ammunition and three boxes of grenades stored at the end of 1919 in a reserve at La Goulette.

[1] In Volume 1 of his Mémoires, General de Gaulle will continue, without irony, to call General Gamelin as "grand chef".
[2] General Corap will be left behind in France; the Germans will take him prisoner. General Freydenberg will be placed under house arrest in Ouarzazate in an inn with no running water.
[3] Light Algerian Infantry
June 12th, 1940

- Italy breaks its diplomatic relations with the Netherlands, whose Queen and government have taken refuge in London. On the other hand, Egypt breaks its diplomatic relations with Italy. Negus Haile Selassie, in exile in London, proposes the participation of Ethiopia in the war against Italy.

Chanciano Terme - As a precautionary measure, King Vittorio-Emmanuele sends Queen Elena and Princesses Maria-José and Jolanda and their children to the spa of
Chanciano Terme. Marie-José stays at the Villa Ramella, while the Queen stays at the Grand Hotel.
June 12th, 1940

Southwestern Pacific Ocean
- Italian liner Romolo, which left Brisbane on June 5th, is intercepted by auxiliary cruiser HMAS Manoora near the island of Nauru. It is scuttled by its captain to avoid capture. Another liner, the Remo, in dock at Fremantle, is captured.
June 12th, 1940

- German battlecruisers Scharnhorst and Gneisenau would attempt to enter the Mediterranean via Gibraltar! Despite the absurdity of this rumour, the raiding force sets sail anyway.
On a more serious note, the French mine-sweeping submarines leave for operations. During the next few days, they lay mines in front of Italian ports, the Saphir in front of Cagliari (on the 12th) the Nautilus in front of Tripoli (on the 14th) and the Turquoise in front of Trapani (on the 17th). The Perle will proceed to lay defensive anchorages on the Corsican coast.
Fourteen miles off Barcelona, French cable ship Arago (registered in the auxiliary reserve fleet under the mark X82) cuts another telegraph cable linking Italy to Spain. For this first offensive mission against Italy, named Cabo, the cable ship had been escorted by the 1st Destroyer Division (La Palme, Le Mars and Tempête), joined the next day by La Poursuivante.

Bizerte - The French base is attacked by 21 SM.79 of the 8th Stormo from Sardinia. Six MS-406 of the GC III/5 take off too late to intercept the Italian bombers. At the
base of Karouba, four Loire-70 seaplanes of the E7 squadron are destroyed and a fifth damaged, out of the six in the unit. The pilots are temporarily assigned to the GB II/25. A fuel depot is set on fire at Sidi Ahmed.
In the Baie des Carrières, the auxiliary minesweeper X 35 Finistère is damaged by a bomb. It is taken to the Sidi Abdallah arsenal (the Italians think they have sunk it).
June 12th, 1940

Taranto, 0100
- An Italian squadron sets sail to patrol the Ionian Sea. It includes heavy cruisers Fiume, Gorizia and Zara (1st division), light cruisers Duca degli Abruzzi and Giuseppe Garibaldi (8th division), escorted by the DD Alfieri, Carducci, Gioberti, Oriani (9th squadron) and da Recco, Pessagno and Usodimare (16th squadron - the Tarigo remained in port). Two other squadrons of destroyers are to patrol during the day between Sicily and Malta.
June 12th, 1940

Western Mediterranean
- At 02h00, while the main group of the Alexandria fleet had already passed a first line of six Italian submarines, the Bagnolini (CC Franco Tosoni
Pittoni), one of the units making up the second line, which stretched between Cape Littinos (Crete) and Tobruk, torpedoes the light cruiser HMS Calypso, which quickly sinks. Its twin, the HMS Caledon and the destroyer HMS Dainty collect the survivors and bring them back to Alexandria.
The Italian submarines did not intend to stop there: at dawn, the Nereide (L.V. Luigi Baroni) torpedoes and seriously damages Norwegian tanker Orkanger (8,029 GRT), en route from Suez to Malta. The latter was finished off in the evening by the Naiade (L.V. Mario Spano).
Further east, the mine-spotting submersible Pietro Micca (CF Vittorio Meneghini) places a minefield in front of Alexandria during the night; however, this did not cause any
casualties, one of the devices having been spotted by the destroyer HMAS Stuart, which hastily warned the local minesweepers.
In the early morning, an Italian aircraft spots the British cruisers of the 7th Squadron south of Crete, heading west. The heavy cruisers Bolzano, Pola and Trento, escorted by the destroyers of the 11th and 12th CT squadrons, were sent to scout in this direction, but no contact was established. And for good reason: Tovey's ships had just separated and headed south. While the HMS Orion and HMAS Sydney searched the outskirts of Benghazi without success, their counterparts HMS Gloucester and Liverpool, supported by the Eagle's air force briefly engaged the coastal batteries of Tobruk and the Regia Marina's units anchored in the small port. The gunboat Giovanni Berta is sunk off the port. The cruisers deployed their paravanes and thus broke the anchorings of a few Italian mines.
British radio listening stations in Malta, Alexandria and Gibraltar report the presence of Italian ships to the west of the island of Cephalonia (western coast of Greece)
and north-west of Derna (Cyrenaica). In this second group, the light cruiser Giuseppe Garibaldi is identified. But because of the delays in processing and transmitting the information, Admiral Cunningham is warned too late, just as his three groups encircle the Garibaldi's squadron. The poor visibility allowed the Italian flotilla
to escape the vigilance of the Eagle's planes.
Around noon, the British submarine HMS Orpheus reports an Italian flotilla comprising "3 Zara-class cruisers and 6 destroyers" 45 miles southeast of Syracuse. The submersible was unable to get into an attack position.
At 12:30, Cunningham orders the 7th Cruiser Squadron (minus HMS Neptune), which had joined him west of Crete, to push north-west at 22 knots and to sweep the sea until they reached a position approximately a hundred miles south-east of Cape Santa Maria di Leuca (the tip of the heel of the Italian boot). He himself, along with the main group, maintains his speed of 16 knots and is heading southwest of the island of Zakynthos.
At midnight, as no Italian vessels are encountered, the cruisers turn back.
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June 12th, 1940

Libya (Cyrenaica)
- The RAF attacks the port facilities of Tobruk, but only ten of the 29 Blenheim attackers find their target. The Italian CR.32 in protection of the area intercept the British bombers, who have to throw their bombs at random, missing the old cruiser San Giorgio (but the crews will still claim to have hit it).
British mobile detachments attack Sidi Omar and Bir Scegga (Ridotta Maddalena), two of the secondary strong points of the 30B sub-sector of the Guardia alla Frontiera, whose HQ is at Amseat (aka Fort Capuzzo) and whose third secondary strongpoint is Sceferzen.
June 12th, 1940

Northern France
- Everywhere in France, Huntziger issues orders that meant - for those who wanted to read between the lines - that it was a matter of fighting to delay the Germans and no longer in the vain hope that they would be pushing them back. Most unit commanders understand this and many of them find a clear justification for their fight.
Of the thirty divisions holding the Weygand line, eleven had only 50% of their strength left, thirteen were reduced to 25% and the other six were just debris. Faced with the
dislocation of the last line of defense, the decentralization of the commands is organized so that Army Groups and even Armies can fight separately, on fixed general axes.

Normandy - In the morning, the encircled allied forces (French 9th CA and several British units) surrender at Saint-Valéry-en-Caux. Forty thousand French and six thousand British soldiers are captured, including twelve generals. The fog and the narrowness of the ports prevented a new miracle of Dunkirk. However, a flotilla of about thirty ships, including five Belgians, under the under the command of Lieutenant-Commander Aubert, manages to evacuate 1,104 French and 2,137 British, under the fire of German 105 and 88 mm cannons set up on the cliffs. Two British destroyers are damaged and the French lose a patrol boat and two dredgers.
On the Eure, the 27. ID consolidates its bridgeheads and reinforces itself throughout the day. The state of the forces of the French 3rd CA did not allow it to counter-attack. On the other hand, the pressure has switched and, all the while holding on the Iton and around Evreux, General La Laurencie gives the order to abandon the last strong points overlooking the Seine.
Further south, the 1st DLM launches a few desperate attacks to retake the bridge at Cocherel: the 1st squadron of the 4th RDP, engaged in the affair, loses 55 men out of 78. What is left of the of the 1st DLM swings around Pacy in the evening to cover the Evreux-Dreux-Chartres axis, the main objective of the panzers who are trying to overrun Paris from the west.

Ile-de-France (Chauvineau Line) - In the early hours of the morning, the 8. ID launches a large-scale attack on Isle-Adam. After an intense artillery preparation, the Germans try to cross the river in rubber dinghies. Three times during the day, the enemy is repelled by French fire. General Koch-Erpach, who commands the 8. ID, decides to insist. In the evening, fierce fighting continues and despite their courage, the last assailants are finally thrown back into the water by the exhausted French forces.
At Boran, the 19th ID, helped by tanks of the 1st DCR, manages to reduce the bridgehead of the 28. ID.
The pressure does not relax in the sector of the 29th ID and 47th ID, but the enemy does not manage to break through, and can only attempt a few incursions in the Pontarmé forest and in the the Borest sector.
At 17:00, it appears that the French divisions, exhausted and beaten the previous days on the Aisne and the Somme, have managed to recover, and are well entrenched in front of the capital. On the whole of the the Chauvineau line, the Germans are held in check. Unfortunately, the GQG was forced to recognize that the situation on the wings of the GA 3 and particularly in Normandy makes any prolonged resistance in front of and in Paris useless. At 22:00, the general withdrawal order, which means the abandonment of Paris without fighting, is received with bitterness in all units. At first, the men refuse to believe in this order to retreat, even though they felt - with some reason - that they had inflicted a terrible blow on the German forces. Incredulous officers have the message repeated and confirmed before accepting, with rage in their hearts to abandon a ground so courageously defended.
The military command of Paris, which had become an open city, is handed over to General Lanoix (who was already in command of the Paris Military Region), and is given the heavy task of carrying out the last destructions and receive the Germans: it is necessary to ensure that life goes on in the capital. General Héring keeps the command of the Army of Paris. It is composed of two army corps: the 10th Motorized CA (General Gransart) [1] and the 25th CA (General Libaud) [2]. The various elements of the Paris Guard, more than ten thousand men: artillerymen, sailors, territorials, mobile guards, republican guards, North African and Senegalese riflemen, depot personnel, FT battalions, training battalions... are dispersed between the two army corps.
During the night, the first units begin to withdraw, covered by light elements. The VIIth Army of General Frère retreats towards the Marne. The 25th CA of the Paris Army regroups north of the capital. The 84th DIA holds onto the Seine while the 8th DLIC, on the left of the 10th CA, takingup a position left of the 10th Corps, is positioned in defense of the Avre and Eure river crossings between Nonancourt and the Rosny forest.
The units of the Groupement Cuirassé Delestraint (remnants of the 2nd and 4th DCR and 2nd DLM) still include 50 heavy tanks and 150 self-propelled or light tanks. They ensure that the communication axes are covered.

Champagne - The German 6th Army begins to cross the Marne in the region between Meaux and Château-Thierry. Kleist's armored divisions move towards the Seine and the Aube, behind which the 240th and 59th DLI begin to move in, with the help of elements of the engineer regiments of the VIth Army. Due to lack of time, they concentrate on the bridges, considering that the enemy vehicles would have to pass through there or wait for their means of to cross. The 10th Polish Armored Brigade could not be disengaged in time and finds itself on the on the road to the XVI. AK (mot) in the area of Champaubert-Montmirail-Montgivroux, where it carries out a delaying action which allows the left wing of the 20th ID to disengage, via the Saint-Gond marshes.
The 27th ID is at Montmirail, behind the Petit Morin. The 7th ID and the 238th DLI withdraw to the left, then retreated a little to the west. The French infantry divisions on the left of the Marne front (20th, 45th, 44th and 42nd ID) still hold the southern bank, but they come under very heavy fire from enemy artillery, and the infantry of the German 9th Army started to pass through, especially between Château-Thierry and Epernay. At the end of the day, while the German tanks are already in the process of trying to overrun the front from the west, the French line starts to fall back, starting with the left flank. The GRDI and GRCA, like everywhere in France, are still dedicated to cover the withdrawal of the infantry, but also sometimes to stop the infantrymen who withdraw without fighting. The 82nd DIA, which was still holding the Montagne de Reims, has to withdraw behind the Marne, covered by the 7th DLM. The latter started its withdrawal towards Romilly, but its artillery regiment (77th RATTT) fired all afternoon and during the night on the north bank of the Marne, to hinder the German regroupings. Its Laffly W15TCC self-propelled anti-tank guns (10/77th RATTT, ex 55th BACA), distributed between the different batteries for their close defense, have not yet faced enemy armour. The order was given to assign them to the 59th DLI to defend the bridges over the Seine in the Romilly sector. The 23rd BCC withdraws towards the confluence of the Seine and the Aube to join the 59th DLI.
Further east, north of the Marne, the German 12th Army takes Reims. The Klopfenstein Group, set up with the remains of the 2nd and 10th ID and the 235th DLI, withdraws to the southeast, towards Saint-Dizier and Bar-le-Duc, as does the 14th ID. The roads are congested because violent storm falling on the region. The 3rd DIM and the 3rd DCR cover the retreat of this part of the front. A part of the 41st BCC is annihilated while delaying the enemy in the Mourmelon area. The Courtois Group, formed by regrouping the 25th GRDI (14th ID), the 60th GRDI (ex-71st DI) and the 10th GRCA (8th CA), as well as the Grévy Detachment (composed of AMD, tanks and mounted dragoons of the 7th DLM) protected the withdrawal of the 14th ID in particular.
Indeed, Guderian's vanguards, forcing the passage between the 8th and 23rd Corps, are already at Châlons-sur-Marne (2. PzD) and on the road Reims-Châlons-Vitry-le-François. They tried to take the bridges over the Marne, which the men of the 53rd DLI (which collected some retreating elements piece-mele) eventually blow up in the middle of the day. However, the bridges of Pogny and Ablancourt (between Châlons-sur-Marne and Vitry-le-François) threaten to fall into enemy hands. At 4 p.m, thirteen B1bis of the 41st BCC, sent to the rear for repairs, manage to muscle their way through. The Germans immediately break off the engagement, which allows thousands of men and artillery columns (mainly from the 14th ID and the 3rd DIM) to continue their retreat south of the Marne river. The 14th ID also crosses at Soulanges and Vitry-le-François. The surviving tanks of the 41st BCC were kept to cover the bridges, until the last ones are destroyed, which will be the case at the end of the evening. The
infantry divisions continue towards Bar-le-Duc and Saint-Dizier.

Alsace-Lorraine - The IInd Army retreated in combat and a gap forms between the 21st CA and the Colonial Corps, which had withdrawn further south.The Germans, who only noticed quite late the day that the French lines had withdrawn, caught up with the delaying elements and attempt to flank Colonial Corps.
The 67th BCC, which had landed in Marseille on June 8th from Tunisia, is ordered to contain the advance of the 8. PzD (XLI. AK (mot)), which flanks the 6th DIC, which is located in the middle of the camp of Suippes. The D1 tanks do their best despite facing more than a hundred of enemy tanks of all types, and allow the colonials to withdraw.
The 3rd DINA starts to settle behind the Canal de la Marne au Rhin, where the IV/344th RI was already located. The 6th DINA withdraws to the Meuse and the Burtaire March Division, which came from the fortifications of Montmédy, has to do the same the following night.
General Freydenberg, commander of the IInd Army, moves his HQ to Châteauvillain, more than 150 km from Verdun, which makes it impossible to communicate with his troops.
Transported by truck from Véry to Valmy, the marching company of the 4th BCC embarks by rail to reach the 7th CA's sector between the Marne and the Seine.
The 36th ID, which withdrew in the direction of Bar-le-Duc, is placed in reserve. It is to be transferred to the 18th CA which had to be redeployed north-west of Chaumont. Its movement will be carried out in part by the coaches of the CAT 372/21.
Further east, the VIIIth Army begins to retreat. Colonel Duluc (who commands the tanks of this army) is appointed to head the Saône Defense Group, which he has to create
create from scratch! During the night, the last trains carrying the 1st DIP towards the Saône set off. The 2nd DIP, stationed around Belfort, heads, as planned the day before,
towards Vesoul and the Saône, with the help of CAT 522, 523 and 524. General Laure organizes the defense of Belfort around the 63rd ID: if the Germans break through, either from the west or the east, he thought he could create a fixing point around Belfort and the Ballon d'Alsace, reinforced when the time came by the fortress infantry, 105th DIF and SF of Altkirch.
The trucks and coaches of the automobile groups of the 5th Army (CAT 362/49 and 343/20 and vehicles requisitioned in Strasbourg) remove the 30th DIAlp, in two rotations (nights of the 11th to the 12th, then the 12th to the 13th), to drive it to Sarrebourg, from where it boarded trains in direction of the Saône (the chosen route, through the Alsace plain and Belfort, will allow it to avoid the traffic jams around Nancy and Epinal). The 56th ID, which was in the Thionville sector is put in reserve; like the 36th ID, it must be transferred to the 18th CA, but this time by rail.
Condé copies the decision that Bourret had taken the day before and orderes the immediate requisition of all civilian vehicles in Metz to improve the mobility of his IIIrd Army. Finally, General Prételat moves the HQ of the GA 2 to Besançon. At the insistence of his army generals, he calls Huntziger, argued on the importance of his tanks for the infantry and asks to keep them. Huntziger agrees to reconsult De Gaulle.

Provence & Alps - A Fiat BR-20 of the 7th Stormo (based in Milan-Linate) carries out a reconnaissance on the airfields of Cannet-des-Maures, Cuers-Pierrefeu and Hyères and on the port of Toulon. The aircraft is damaged by French fighters, but it managed to make an emergency landing near Bergamo. The information collected allows to set up an attack against Toulon and the neighboring airfields, planned for the next day.
In the evening, four LeO-451 of the GB I/25 (which has just started its conversion on this aircraft) take off to bomb the airfield of Novi Ligure, but only two aircraft find their
their targets.
In the Alps, the first shots are fired between French and Italian ski scouts.

[1] With two fresh divisions, the 8th DLIC, recently withdrawn from the Alpine Army, and the 84th DIA, recently landed from North Africa.
[2] With, in addition to the 85th DIA and the 241st DLI, a battle group comprising of the remains of the 4th DIC and the 13th, 16th and 24th ID, under the command of General de Bazelaire.
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Status of the front line in France as of June 12th, 1940, 23:59

Red: Current front line
Orange: 1st Resistance Position
Yellow: 2nd Resistance Position
Purple: Brittany Redoubt
Light Green: Southwestern Redoubt
049 - Pétain arrested
June 12th, 1940

Tours – Château de Cangé
- The Council of Ministers opens at 22:00 in a very tense atmosphere, in the presence of Albert Lebrun.
Pétain asks to speak and reads a long statement. He first criticizes the conditions of the declaration of war (shortage of equipment, weakness of the French air force) and then attacked with violence against the extremists, with De Gaulle taking the brunt, before calling for an armistice:
"The ambitious madness of a few upstarts, taking advantage of a weakening political power, obtained from the latter an ill-advised decision: the departure of General Weygand, a leader of great talent, an exemplary soldier, whose immediate return is an absolute necessity. These unconscious people have thus diverted the government from the current emergency: to ask the German authorities for an armistice as soon as possible, with honor. Indeed, it is with a heavy heart that I say it to you, but it would be worse to deceive ourselves: France has lost the war and it is necessary to stop fighting. Only the cessation of hostilities could save an important part of the national territory from invasion and to maintain order and cohesion in the decimated and harassed troops. It is clear today that the continuation of the conflict would be fatal to the country."
These statements provoke a head-on collision with Reynaud: "It was in my dual capacity as President of the Council and Minister of War that I freely decided to dismiss General Weygand and it is in this dual capacity that I assume it today! As for asking for an armistice when France is engaged in a struggle that puts at stake the very essence of our civilization, it would be a real crime and I refuse to do so with the utmost energy. I am scandalized and deeply saddened to hear such a speech from the mouth of the winner of Verdun, and only the weight of age can explain such a defeatism! France is an Empire. If the Metropole is lost, the Empire will save it. The fleet and the air force will fight alongside the British forces. The United States will send tanks and planes. The government will go to North Africa and even to Black Africa to await the circumstances that will bring victory."
- Shut up," spat Pétain, "you're only a civilian and you don't know anything!"
De Gaulle stood up abruptly, standing above everyone with his heigh: "Monsieur Vice-President of the Council," he said, carefully avoiding giving Pétain his title of Marshal,
"how do you claim to know anything about it yourself? For years, you have done nothing to modernize our Army, you have nipped in the bud all attempts to develop a doctrine for the effective use of our forces in a modern war! The disaster that strikes us today, it is you and your associates that have prepared it!"
- Insolent youth! answers Pétain. I have known you for a long time! I know your ambition and I know that you take your wishes for your realities.
- I know at least what is the given word", answers De Gaulle, "and I know that to ask for armistice would be a betrayal of our ally, to whom France gave her word less than three months ago!" [He refers to the Reynaud-Chamberlain agreement of March 28th.]
- The English have committed many other perfidies!" proclaims the Minister of State Jean Ybarnegaray. "Rather be a province of Germany than slaves of England!"
- A province of Germany! That is your ideal!" squeaked De Gaulle. "Is it also yours, Monsieur Philippe Pétain?"
Pétain scowls: "Know who you are talking to, Colonel, I am Marshal of France, not 'Monsieur'!"
De Gaulle drops a bombshell: "Marshal Pétain died in 1925!" [1]
The hubbub is indescribable. Camille Chautemps (second vice-president of the Council) gives his voice in support of Pétain, before Albert Lebrun manages to restore a little order.
- Mr. President," Reynaud asked, "it seems necessary to me, in these difficult hours, to hear the voices of Parliament. Mr. Herriot, President of the Chamber, and Jeanneney, president of the Senate, are here, can they chime in and give us their feelings?"
Lebrun agreed and the presidents of the two chambers, in front of a stunned Pétain and Chautemps, came to reiterate the support of the Parliament for Paul Reynaud. Chautemps was the first to to pull himself together: "I protest against this masquerade! These gentlemen only represent themselves. Remember, Mr. President, that Mr. Paul Reynaud only obtained the nomination by one vote last March 22!"
- It is true," Reynaud retorted, "that the support of the Socialist party, the largest in the Assembly, had been lacking at the time. But things have changed. M. Léon Blum will tell you himself, he is not far away."
Lebrun, surprised, barely nodded and Georges Mandel jumped up to introduce Blum:
Mr. President," he explained, "I have come to assure you that, in the present tragic circumstances, the socialists, just like in 1914, will do their duty and take their responsibilities for the continuation of the war. Long live France!" According to his biographers, this "Long live France!" marked his revenge on all those who had for years treated him as a "dirty cosmopolitan Jew". In any case, this exclamation was taken up by the great majority of the members of the Council: "Long live France!"
As Blum, Herriot and Jeanneney left the room, the session resumed. Camille Chautemps tried to finesse: "In the current situation, it would nevertheless be appropriate to inquire with the enemy about the conditions of an armistice, even if it means rejecting it if its conditions are unacceptable."
Pétain took the floor again: "We have finally heard some words of wisdom, but I cannot forget the insult done to my person. I demand a public apology and the resignation or dismissal of the insulter. Moreover, once again, it is madness to deprive the country of General Weygand. He must be recalled within the hour."
- Whether it is the dismissal of a member of the government or the appointment of the chief of staff, such decisions belong to me alone," Reynaud replied. "Monsieur le
Maréchal, the government accepts your resignation from your ministerial duties."

Pétain is now red from anger: "That's ridiculous! You and your friends are disqualified to lead the country. Only a soldier like me can still prevent a total disaster and obtain a peace from the enemy, with honor. I am ready to give my person to France to lead these negotiations, and then to fix our unfortunate country. I propose, Mr. President, with your permission, to set to work tomorrow.
This is the decisive moment, the breaking point. Georges Mandel understood it well. Before anyone could react, he stood up: "This speech is high treason! Mr. President of the Council, we must act. The fate of the country, the fate of France, is in your hands!" Slowly, Reynaud rose to his feet: "What we have just heard from your mouth, Mr. Pétain, can only be described as high treason. You will be held accountable on the spot."
A deep silence fell over the Council room. Immediately, Georges Mandel brought in two policemen.
- Philippe Pétain," declared Mandel coldly, "I accuse you of misconduct, conspiracy and high treason. Gentlemen, arrest this man.
A distraught old man was taken away, stammering "How dare you..." [2]
Sitting down once more, Mandel announces in a calm voice that his services will arrest all those guilty of defeatism.
It was 00:35 on June 13th.
Reynaud asked Lebrun for a recess, during which he submitted to him, with Jeanneney's approval, the list of a reshuffled government. Lebrun, very shocked by what had just happened, but "happy to see that the two chambers largely support the head of the government", accepted. Reynaud then personally announced to Chautemps that he was no longer part of the government, at least temporarily. The latter took the blow without saying a word - no doubt he feared a more severe sanction.
The session resumed at 01:05.
Reynaud first announces the government reshuffle. In addition to the arrest of Pétain and the resignation of Baudouin, Chautemps (vice-president of the Council), Pomaret (Labor), Prouvost (Information) and Ybarnegaray (Minister of State without portfolio) left. Entering the government were Léon Blum, Jules Moch, Jean Zay, Roland de Margerie and Philippe Serre.
Mandel and Blum were appointed vice-presidents of the Council and ministers of state. Charles de de Gaulle became Minister of War (a position that Reynaud held concurrently with that of President of the Council). Jules Moch became Minister of Labor, Jean Zay replaced Prouvost as Minister of Information and Philippe Serre became Under-Secretary for War and Secretary of the Committee for War (a position that De Gaulle could not occupy, having become a minister), while Margerie replaced Baudouin as Under Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs. Reynaud then read a short statement, written by Margerie: "(...) We cannot surrender. There are many reasons why we cannot. (...) Finally, France must honor her word to her allies, starting with the United Kingdom. It is a matter of her honor. The war can and must continue, if necessary from our Empire, with the fraternal support of our allies! It will continue until victory is achieved."
After a moment of uneasy silence, Yves Bouthillier asked to speak. " As Minister of Finance, I cannot support the government in a struggle that would be pursued
from the Empire. The financial resources of the Empire are far from being equal to the immense task that would be ours if we had to leave the metropolitan territory. The indebtedness to our allies and neutrals would place France in a state of submission that would be no different from that which arms alone could impose on us."
Without having asked to speak, De Gaulle then replied in a dry tone: "The honor, the greatness
and the future of France cannot be measured by the yardstick of an accountant
After a last look at Reynaud, of whom he was a faithful collaborator, Bouthillier understands that he will not find support. He submits his resignation and his position is attached, temporarily, to the Presidency of the of the Council.
The Council breaks up at 01:35, after Reynaud had indicated that a new Supreme Interallied Council would be held later that day, in Tours

[1] Reference to Pétain's intervention in Morocco, during Abd-El-Krim's revolt, where he effectively dispossessed Marshal Lyautey of his powers and provoked his recall by the government.
[2] Many historians have wondered how Mandel could have found police officers who were not likely to hesitate when it came to arresting a National Glory such as Pétain. One hypothesis that has often been thrown around is actually true: Mandel had made contact with the Grand Orient de France, and the two policemen were Freemasons. In June 2000, a "white dress" of the Grand Orient open to the public, organized on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of the event, presented first-hand testimonies that leave no doubt, even specifying that these policemen, withdrawn to the Loire with the personnel of the Ministry of the Interior, were members of the Parisian lodge La Philosophie Positive. Undoubtedly certain Freemasons (such Camille Chautemps) were in favor of stopping the fighting and supported Pétain. But the great majority of the "brothers" were opposed to any surrender to the Nazis. Some also remembered that Pétain had said: "I don't like the Jews very much, but after all, they were born that way, they can't help it. The Freemasons are worse, because they did it on purpose!"
June 13th, 1940

Château de Chissay, 0730
- The participants in the dramatic "Sursaut" council have red eyes after a very short night, still dazed perhaps by the decisive gesture they have
accomplished with the arrest of the Winner of Verdun and the eviction of the last defeatists from the government.
Mandel persuades Reynaud to have the parliamentary immunity of the leaders of the "defeatist party" lifted by by using the same procedure that Clemenceau had used. He also obtained a decree-law "on internal security". It is only when he leaves the president of the Council that he announces him, as if it were no longer of any importance, that Pétain had been the victim of an "AVC" [1]. From that moment on, the prognosis of the doctors consulted was grim - the old man was hemiplegic and could only speak with difficulty. Mandel and Reynaud decide to have him transported to Bordeaux by ambulance. They plan to have him shipped from there to Africa.

Château de Beauvais, 0900 - The new Minister of War telephones Admiral François Darlan, commander-in-chief of the naval forces and informshim of the events of the night. "We must not delude ourselves, Admiral: the battle on French territory is well and truly lost. The only way out is to apply the measures we have prepared: delaying actions with sacrificed forces, while the best of our troops, those with the most modern equipment, will be evacuated to North Africa. The units left on the European continent will fight to the limit of their possibilities, and then will have to surrender when their fight become useless. In the weeks to come," added De Gaulle, "the survival of our Army will depend on the French Navy. I know that it will be up to this immense task." Darlan, although very much at odds with De Gaulle, is sensitive to this tribute and reaffirms his determination to continue the fight, while making British cooperation a condition for the success of the evacuation to NAF.
De Gaulle had less luck with Admiral Jean de Laborde, Amiral Ouest. The latter refused to speak to him; it was his orderly who replied: "The Admiral has you tell him that he has no order to receive from a government that had disgraced itself by dismissing General Weygand and arresting Marshal Pétain.
"And by dismissing ex-Admiral de Laborde, no doubt!" thundered De Gaulle as he hung up. He signs the decree dismissing Laborde from his duties and his rank on the spot. His functions will be taken over, until the fall of Brest, by Vice-Admiral Marcel Traub (commander of the IInd Maritime Region).
At the same time, on the advice of Moch, he appoints Vice-Admiral Emile Muselier "responsible for for the evacuation of the armed forces from metropolitan France". Muselier has the difficult task of gathering the means to evacuate all possible military equipment and all the forces that were not essential to protect the south of France and its ports to England or North Africa. All non-evacuated material will have to be destroyed.
Admiral Muselier immediately sets off to work and orders the requisition of "everything that floats, including fishing boats and pleasure yachts".

[1] A stroke.
June 13th, 1940

Bordeaux, 10h00
- Informed (no doubt thanks to Chautemps) of what happened during the night in Cangé, Déat, Laval, Bonnet, Bergery and Flandin publish a communiqué denouncing "the coup d'état of the Reynaud-Mandel tandem and the shameful arrest of Marshal Pétain. (...) In any case, the signatories will refuse to leave the metropolitan territory for who knows what adventure and to follow a factious government overseas." This position, today considered to be the birth certificate of the collaborationist movement, won't be widely spread in the immediate future, but it will not pass unnoticed on the Loire... nor in Berlin (where Hitler was counting precisely on Pétain's influence to impose the armistice on the French authorities), nor in Madrid (where the arrest of the first French ambassador to Franco caused concern and irritation).
One of the thing that would be worth discussed here is the POD.

On one hand I am fairly sceptical the ''initial'' (the car crash) POD would work to bring the ''real'' POD (The war party prevailing in France). Reynaud's spine problems seem too me big to be so quickly solved (even if only partially) and I just don't see his mistress' death, altough I can definitely believe she was hated by the war faction, be that much of an electroshock for them and lead them to close their ranks and start to work together more effectively. Moreover, even after Villelume is out of the picture the defeatists are still present in strenght in the government and would be hard to handle.

That being said, I would argue it actually doesn't really matter. While the countess' death has the ''initial'' POD can be questionned others would have easily lead to the same ''real POD'': the defeatists making too quick and brutal a move against Reynaud, their anti-democratis sentiments filtering through more obviously and (for them) too early compared to OTL and, perhaps the most obvious possibility of all, Pétain having a hearth attack at the crucial moment could have left the war party unified and in the same dominant position then after Cangé in the FTL, with Reynaud's spine issues being taken care of by having only pro-war voices around him, once again like in the FTL.

What really mattered here is that the scene were the war party win, the true ''Sursaut'' has the entertainment value and the emotional punch it need to possess and in that the FTL succeed :)
That being said, I would argue it actually doesn't really matter. While the countess' death has the ''initial'' POD can be questionned others would have easily lead to the same ''real POD'': the defeatists making too quick and brutal a move against Reynaud, their anti-democratis sentiments filtering through more obviously and (for them) too early compared to OTL and, perhaps the most obvious possibility of all, Pétain having a hearth attack at the crucial moment could have left the war party unified and in the same dominant position then after Cangé in the FTL, with Reynaud's spine issues being taken care of by having only pro-war voices around him, once again like in the FTL.
Maybe, here, it could be argued that the Countess' death and Reynaud's grief led the defeatist faction to overplay their hand in trying to take advantage of said grief--this wouldn't be the first time such a thing has happened in history...
Maybe, here, it could be argued that the Countess' death and Reynaud's grief led the defeatist faction to overplay their hand in trying to take advantage of said grief--this wouldn't be the first time such a thing has happened in history...
That's fair, altough my read of it is slightly different: they essentially overreacted to Weygand being fired, which is possible in and of itself but said firying was fairly precipated... A key part of it too is the war party got its stuff toguether in a way it simply didn't in OTL, unifying itself and coordinating in a way that just, unfortunately, never happened. Even then the defeatists could have pulled it off but Pétain seeled its own fate by doing the one thing that I could actually see Reynaud decisively react against in any circumstances: asking for an extra legal appointment as President of the Council, which buried Chautemps' move for at least asking terms, (dissimulating the fact that doing that would bring the defeatists to power automatically by a massively dishonest ''but of course we can always refuse...'') which was what doomed the war party in OTL, and burrying it while also giving the war party a reason to arrest Pétain and purge the cabinet.

In a nuthshell the Countess des Portes death = Weygand is sacked as well and = war party getting its act together is the debatable development here. At the end, and as said above, it doesn't matter all that much though: you could easily get to the same point with Pétain being removed from the picture or, if one want to keep the chain of events for the most, just Weygand being too honest about whether he would obey order when Reynaud still had the energy to react strongly to it, leading to his sacking and the events then basically attracting figures of the war party to Reynaud's proximity, and therefore closer to each other, out of simply feeling a confrontation would happen.

I.e no matter what one think of the death of the countess as a POD you can very easily have the same players in the same circumstances by early-mid june so its more the work about the butterflies that matter (altough Cangé need to work narratively and emotionally, and it does), if that make sense?
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John Farson

This brings back memories of the old website that had this whole thing (more or less) in English, up to September 1942, before the group split into the French and English teams (and the latter seems to have died out).
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