Blogging from the Highlands of Scotland until I return to the Murcia region of Spain towards the end of January 2018 for about a month
'From fanaticism to barbarism is only one step' - Diderot

Friday, 18 June 2010

France - from the defeat of June 1940 to the liberation beginning May 1944

Today is the 70th anniversary of the day in June 1940 when General Charles de Gaulle made his historic radio broadcast from the BBC Broadcasting House in London; unfortunately that speech was not recorded, although the text was re-recorded by him later. The original broadcast, although not heard by very many in France, spread by word of mouth. It may genuinely be said to have been the 'spark' which showed French people that their country was not necessarily definitively defeated and gave many of them the courage to continue their struggle for liberation. Here is a recording of a similar, but lengthier, speech made by General de Gaulle from london, just a few days later on 22nd June 1940. It is a powerful speech which reveals his determination that France would one day again be free:

Luckily we can now look back on this period of 65-70 years ago as history. We know what happened, that the allies achieved ultimate victory after over five years of hard struggle and much loss of life. However, in 1940 no-one knew what the outcome would be, not General de Gaulle, not British Prime Minister Winston Churchill who made one of the most powerful speeches ever made in the English language just a month later, in the wake of the French capitulation, with the Battle of Britain about to reach a perilous stage, with Britain being obliged to struggle on alone and with few resources:

The reward for four years of fighting began to be seen when allied troops were able to establish a beach-head on the Normandy coast of France on 6th May 1944, at the cost of further dreadful loss of life, beginning the process that would lead to the liberation of Paris just 3 months later and the defeat of Nazi Germany in May 1945 and Japan in August of that year. The final recording below is of General de Gaulle announcing to France that the liberation of their country had begun, on 6th May 1944:

(Indicidentally, the drum-roll near the beginning is the Morse code for V - for 'victory' - used in all broadcasts from London to occupied-Europe for most of the war; it is also the first four notes of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony; the Roman numeral for five is also 'V'; the fact that Beethoven was a German composer is also significant in the context of the war. Parts of this original recording are badly distorted unfortunately)

Just to remind, no part of this happy outcome was in any way certain in June 1940; the courage and determination of de Gaulle and Churchill and those who heard their original broadcasts in both France and Britain at the time is almost beyond my comprehension. I salute them all.


  1. Bill, what's that got to do with the World Cup?

  2. James,

    What a bizarre question on a totally unrelated matter. In very poor taste, too, in my opinion. I was in two minds to delete your inappropriate comment completely.


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