Mail: "Operation Catapult: Mass murder or stroke of genius?"

Discussion in 'History' started by soleil, Feb 5, 2010.

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  1. Re: Mail: "Operation Catapult: Mass murder or stroke of geni

    I don't think there was any choice in the matter. We'd have lost the Med (and possibly Gib) if the germans had taken them over.
  2. Seaweed

    Seaweed War Hero Book Reviewer

    Darlan said the Fr ships in Toulon would be scuttled if the Germans tried to take them over. There was no evidence that he could (or would) deliver on that. Not a chance we could afford to take. The only thing that was wrong was that the Strasbourg managed to escape.
  3. Blackrat

    Blackrat War Hero Moderator Book Reviewer

    Some decisions in war are not popular, but need to be done for the greater good. This was one of them. Although some may disagree, i think it was the right decision to make.
  4. Difficult call for them to make:

    Remain patriotic and obey their leader, Darlan, or 'disobey' Vichy France and earn themselves a traitor's label?

    The Mail 's tone appears slightly biased against us but the old french survivor interviewed seems more philosophic and now accepts the event as another nasty consequence of war.

    Our Navy took no pride in disabling that port-bound fleet, it was just too risky not to have done so.
  5. The Mail was right about one thing though, the attitude of the French population towards us. Toulon was not a happy run ashore in the '50s. Uniform was compulsory in those days and we spent a lot of time wiping French spit off our Number 6s.

  6. La Pallice the same thanks to the RAF dropping earthquake bombs on the U-Boat pens and trashing the town. Horrendously unfriendly place.
  7. Seaweed

    Seaweed War Hero Book Reviewer

    1961, to Brest to demo a new sweep. A Fr captain came on board and after thawing him out at lunchtime he revealed that he could, indeed, speak English. Told us he lived in one of only two pre-war houses in Brest.
  8. Blackrat

    Blackrat War Hero Moderator Book Reviewer

    It was a difficult call, i admit, but a call that had to be made. Some risks should not be taken. It is to the Navy's credit that they took no pride in doing this, but it had to be done. This is one of the decisions that will be pondered for many years to come.
  9. Re: Mail: "Operation Catapult: Mass murder or stroke of geni

    I agree it had to be done .Ther was some fine ships their if they had fallan into german hands it would not have been good for the allies .I think it was done with a sad heavy heart bur never the less had to done it was war !!!
  10. Weird. The populace of St. Nazaire loved having us there the other year despite the Mob blowing their small town up and turning it into a warzone for a day or two during 'The Greatest Raid of All'.
  11. Re: Mail: "Operation Catapult: Mass murder or stroke of geni

    Had no problems with the Channel ports, but Toulon was the Home port of the Oran ships, and it was only a few years after the war. I suspect that many of the population had lost relatives and friends in what had been considered generally to have been an underhand move by the RN, and the event was still very clear in their memories.

  12. Re: Mail: "Operation Catapult: Mass murder or stroke of geni

    Would you ever trust the word of a Frenchman?they are just made that way.
    Besides Darlan was a reputed Vichy sympathiser Churchill needed to show the Yanks we were not done and Darlan probably would have handed the Germans the ships.Why take the risk?
    Surely the Pompous prat that was De Gaulle could have ordered them to fight the Germans on our side he was coming to prominence at that time.
    Why risk it?,sorry as it was for the French sailors as, all seamen are comrades,you are either with us or not.
    Concur re.Brest though,it was a time for scrapping with the locals on runs a shore there.Not a place for a holiday.
  13. Re: Mail: "Operation Catapult: Mass murder or stroke of geni

    Just a recap on dates for the ww2 events
    April 1940 Norway invaded
    May 1940 Blitzkrieg Europe -Holland and Belgium invasion then France
    June 1940 Dunkirk evacuation and free french ships and boats flee to UK
    22 june French armistice and Vichy France formed
    3 July all French vessels in the UK impounded for the free french forces
    3-7 July UK attacks the french Navy in North Africa
    22 September attack by De Gaulle on Dakar and Gabon---- unsuccessful

    The Vichy french forces were between the devil and the deep blue sea.
    If they supported the UK the Germans would invade Vichy France
    1941 Syria taken by Allied forces after battles with V. French forces
    1942 Allies invade North africa and fight V French forces
    Germans invade Vichy France and the French Fleet scuttles all ships.

    The free french were quite brave fighters but were castigatd by France
    for doing so . Its only quite recently France has honoured them

    G :fish:
  14. Re: Mail: "Operation Catapult: Mass murder or stroke of geni

    The Free French Forces were extremely brave and noble fighters,everyone agreed that they got the job done very effectively when needed.
    A couple of hundred officer cadets held back the Germans at Dunkirk enabling my old man,[who was chopped up] to get away back home with countless others,for that I am grateful for their courage, most died.
    Also when the Yanks invaded North Africa they were killed in numbers by the French Army there,Why?couldn't they see no-one would beat the Yanks when they had such resources.It was a losing bet.
    It was a stupid move far from France and blackened them in the USA eyes.
    Like I said,they can turn both ways so Churchill could not take the gamble.
    He was right.
  15. Seaweed

    Seaweed War Hero Book Reviewer

    The French attitude that Darlan had promised to scuttle his fleet rather than allow the Germans to take it over, so that's all right, was vacuous bombast. Darlan might not have survived (in office or physically) to deliver on his promise, either naturally or because it might have suggested to the Germans that he be eliminated. Leave alone the disgraceful idea that he might, on the day, have double-crossed us and not done it. How dare we think such a thing?

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