By Robert Tombs, Emile Chabal
France and Britain, essential allies in international wars, keep in mind and disregard their shared background in contrasting methods. The ebook will study key episodes within the courting among the 2 nations, together with the outbreak of conflict in 1914, the battles of the Somme and Verdun, the autumn of France in 1940, Dunkirk, and British involvement within the French Resistance and the 1944 Liberation. The individuals talk about how the 2 international locations are likely to fail to remember what they owe to one another, and feature a distorted view of heritage which nonetheless shades and prejudices their courting at the present time, regardless of govt efforts to construct an in depth political and armed forces partnership.
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Extra resources for Britain and France in two world wars : truth, myth and memory
What would then be their attitude towards England? 11 Thus using the Entente to block Germany was not the sole preoccupation of the majority of the British establishment. The French should have suspected that something was not right in the relationship from the way their views and those of the British were not aligned on the nature of the Entente. 13 Winston Churchill, First Lord of the Admiralty, may indeed have reminded Grey that Britain had all the duties of an alliance and none of the advantages, but Churchill’s view was not accepted by key figures including Grey himself and Asquith.
Similarly, for France a better understanding of Britain’s position and ways of proceeding might have clarified their respective positions and reduced mutual confusion about the issue of commitment. As the diplomat son of Sir Arthur Nicolson, Harold Nicolson, noted on French diplomacy: ‘The concentration, again, of the French mind upon a particular line of policy prevents them on occasions from observing events which lie outside their immediate and intense focus’. This is a reflection on Paul Cambon’s weakness: consumed by an intense concentration on achieving an alliance, he often did not see the trees for the wood, such as strenuous opposition in cabinet to a formal alliance with France.
This one was no different. For all that, we should not lose sight of the fact that the coalition was successful – unlike its successor in 1940. The relationship between Foch as Generalissimo and Haig as C-in-C BEF had its rocky moments (a saying at GHQ was that Haig had to fight three foes – ‘Boche, Foch and Loygeorges’)10 but must ultimately be judged a success. Coalition warfare is an immensely difficult business, and between 1914 and 1918, the French and the British conducted it well enough to help bring about victory.