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The two decades before World War II were some of the most unsettled in modern history. From Versailles to Mers el-Kébir examines one of the most unlikelyand perhaps least studiedrelationships to form during that turbulent era: the alliance of the Royal Navy and the French fleet. Beginning from a global perspective and gradually narrowing, George E. Melton brings new insights to the diplomacy that led to this often strained cooperation and reinterprets some of the most important events of early World War II.
By the mid-1930s the Royal Navy and French fleet had overextended themselves with global defense commitments, owing mainly to the collapse of the world war alliances and to an ominous shift in the balance of world naval power. To maximize their power, England and France combined their assets in a naval alliance. Successful in keeping both Italy and Japan neutral early in the war, that alliance brought the French and English success against German surface raiders and U-boat operations in the Atlantic. The two powers were on such good terms that in1939, during a joint operation to the north of Scotland, HMS Hood and its escorts served for a week under the command of Vice Admiral Marcel Gensoul, French commander of the Dunkerque. Afterward, the British seamen affectionately referred to the Dunkerque as "the friend of the Hood."
Still, the union was not an altogether happy one. The global defense imperatives of the Admiralty frustrated the regional ambitions of the Rue Royale. The union ultimately came to a violent end when the British attacked the French squadron at Mers el-Kébir in the summer of 1940 after France had signed an armistice with Germany. What followed was a poorly constructed cover up to mask the operation as a regrettable but necessary action. Melton's study challenges this popular myth. Thoroughly researched and documented, From Versailles to Mers el-Kébir concludes that the operation was a disastrous failure.
|Publisher:||Naval Institute Press|
|Product dimensions:||6.10(w) x 9.40(h) x 1.00(d)|
About the Author
George E. Melton received his master's and doctorate degrees in modern European history with an emphasis on French naval and diplomatic history. He has been a member of the faculty at St. Andrews University in Laurinburg, North Carolina, since 1968.