The Road to Oran: Anglo-French Naval Relations, September 1939 - July 1940

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On 3 July 1940, soon after the collapse of the French front and France's request for an armistice, a reluctant Royal Navy commander opened fire on the French Navy squadron at Mers-el-Kebir. Some 1,300 French sailors lost their lives. The late David Brown's detailed account finally conveys an objective understanding of the course of events that led up to this tragedy. This new book makes extensive use of primary sources such as correspondence, reports and signals traffic, from the British Cabinet to the admirals, the commanders-in-chief and the liaison officers. It shows how the driving force behind this extraordinary event was the British government's determination that the French Fleet would never fall into the hands of the Axis powers. A combination of mistrust, dissembling, poor communications and outright enmity over the preceding month had catastrophic results, both for the individuals concerned and for the future of Franco-British naval relations.