Tuesday, June 03, 2014
Britain, United States, and the Vichy government in 1941
The United States policy towards Vichy France in early 1941 was to "humor them". The British disagreed with the concept, but allowed the United States to send wheat shipments to Marseilles. The British sources of information about Syria and North Africa tended to be anti-French and therefore painted a more negative picture of the situation in Syria than actually existed. The de Gaulle people were deeply involved with wishful thinking, crediting themselves with more capability and support than actually existed. Charles de Gaulle was a favorite of Churchill, so Churchill was somewhat caught up in the wishful thinking as well. Leaders in the Middle East tended to side with the British in wanting to see action taken against the Vichy French in the region. General Wavell had his own estimates of French strength that included some 28,000, although mostly African and Arab troops, and some 25,000 Syrian and Lebanese under their control. They also put the German presence at about 300 men. This is based on the account in Vol.II of the Australian Official History.