23 Facts About Free French


Free French fought both Axis and Vichy troops and served in almost every major campaign, from the Middle East to Indochina and North Africa.

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The Free French Navy operated as an auxiliary force to the Royal Navy and, in the North Atlantic, to the Royal Canadian Navy.

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Free French units served in the Royal Air Force, Soviet Air Force, and British SAS, before larger commands were established directly under the control of the government-in-exile.

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On 13 July 1942, "Free French France" was officially renamed Fighting France to mark the struggle against the Axis both externally and within occupied France.

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The Free French government re-established a provisional republic after the liberation, preparing the ground for the Fourth Republic in 1946.

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In many sources, Free French describes any French individual or unit that fought against Axis forces after the June 1940 armistice.

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Free French was a long-time advocate of the modern armoured warfare ideas applied by the Wehrmacht, and commanded the 4th Armoured Division at the Battle of Montcornet.

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Free French forces included men from the French Pacific Islands.

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Free French forces included 5, 000 non-French Europeans, mainly serving in units of the Foreign Legion.

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The 1st Free French Division contained a mixed brigade of French Troupes de marine and the Pacific island volunteers.

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Free French therefore insisted that French warships either join the Allies or else adopt neutrality in a British, French, or neutral port.

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In November 1940, around 1, 700 officers and men of the Free French Navy took advantage of the British offer of repatriation to France, and were transported home on a hospital ship travelling under the International Red Cross.

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Pierre Boisson, the governor-general of Free French Equatorial Africa, was a staunch supporter of the Vichy regime, unlike Felix Eboue, the governor of Free French Chad, a subsection of the overall colony.

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In February 1941, Free French Forces invaded Cyrenaica, again led by Leclerc, capturing the Italian fort at the oasis of Kufra.

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Free French Indochina was invaded by Japan in September 1940, although for most of the war the colony remained under nominal Vichy control.

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In June 1942, the British attacked the strategically important colony of Free French Madagascar, hoping to prevent its falling into Japanese hands and especially the use of Diego-Suarez's harbour as a base for the Imperial Japanese Navy.

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In November 1943, the Free French forces received enough military equipment through Lend-Lease to re-equip eight divisions and allow the return of borrowed British equipment.

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Free French ordered them to cease resisting and co-operate with the Allies, which they did.

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Free French changed the name of his movement to "Fighting French Forces" and sent Jean Moulin back to France as his formal link to the irregulars throughout the occupied country to co-ordinate the eight major Resistance groups into one organisation.

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Provisional Government of the Free French Republic was officially created by the CNFL and succeeded it on 3 June 1944, the day before arrived in London from Algiers on Churchill's invitation, and three days before D-Day.

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The Vichy regime's exile ended when Free French forces reached the town and captured its members on 22 April 1945, the same day that the 3rd Algerian Infantry Division took Stuttgart.

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Free French forces were fighting in Alsace-Lorraine, the Alps, and besieging the heavily fortified Free French Atlantic coast submarine bases that remained Hitler-mandated stay-behind "fortresses" in ports along the Atlantic coast like La Rochelle and Saint-Nazaire until the German capitulation in May 1945.

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In May 1945, by the end of the war in Europe, the Free French forces comprised 1, 300, 000 personnel, and included around forty divisions making it the fourth largest Allied army in Europe behind the Soviet Union, the US and Britain.

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