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Paris liberation made 'whites only'


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#1 dbf

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Posted 06 April 2009 - 07:20 PM

By Mike Thomson
Presenter, Document, BBC Radio 4

Papers unearthed by the BBC reveal that British and American commanders ensured that the liberation of Paris on 25 August 1944 was seen as a "whites only" victory.

Many who fought Nazi Germany during World War II did so to defeat the vicious racism that left millions of Jews dead.

Yet the BBC's Document programme has seen evidence that black colonial soldiers - who made up around two-thirds of Free French forces - were deliberately removed from the unit that led the Allied advance into the French capital.

By the time France fell in June 1940, 17,000 of its black, mainly West African colonial troops, known as the Tirailleurs Senegalais, lay dead.

Many of them were simply shot where they stood soon after surrendering to German troops who often regarded them as sub-human savages.

Their chance for revenge came in August 1944 as Allied troops prepared to retake Paris. But despite their overwhelming numbers, they were not to get it.

'More desirable'
The leader of the Free French forces, Charles de Gaulle, made it clear that he wanted his Frenchmen to lead the liberation of Paris.

Allied High Command agreed, but only on one condition: De Gaulle's division must not contain any black soldiers.

In January 1944 Eisenhower's Chief of Staff, Major General Walter Bedell Smith, was to write in a memo stamped, "confidential": "It is more desirable that the division mentioned above consist of white personnel.

"This would indicate the Second Armoured Division, which with only one fourth native personnel, is the only French division operationally available that could be made one hundred percent white."

At the time America segregated its own troops along racial lines and did not allow black GIs to fight alongside their white comrades until the late stages of the war.

Morocco division
Given the fact that Britain did not segregate its forces and had a large and valued Indian army, one might have expected London to object to such a racist policy.

Yet this does not appear to have been the case.

A document written by the British General, Frederick Morgan, to Allied Supreme Command stated: "It is unfortunate that the only French formation that is 100% white is an armoured division in Morocco.

"Every other French division is only about 40% white. I have told Colonel de Chevene that his chances of getting what he wants will be vastly improved if he can produce a white infantry division."

Finding an all-white division that was available proved to be impossible due to the enormous contribution made to the French Army by West African conscripts.

So, Allied Command insisted that all black soldiers be taken out and replaced by white ones from other units.

When it became clear that there were not enough white soldiers to fill the gaps, soldiers from parts of North Africa and the Middle East were used instead.

Pensions cut
In the end, nearly everyone was happy. De Gaulle got his wish to have a French division lead the liberation of Paris, even though the shortage of white troops meant that many of his men were actually Spanish.

The British and Americans got their "Whites Only" Liberation even though many of the troops involved were North African or Syrian.
For France's West African Tirailleurs Senegalais, however, there was little to celebrate.

Despite forming 65% of Free French Forces and dying in large numbers for France, they were to have no heroes' welcome in Paris.

After the liberation of the French capital many were simply stripped of their uniforms and sent home. To make matters even worse, in 1959 their pensions were frozen.

Former French colonial soldier, Issa Cisse from Senegal, who is now 87 years-old, looks back on it all with sadness and evident resentment.
"We, the Senegalese, were commanded by the white French chiefs," he said.

"We were colonised by the French. We were forced to go to war. Forced to follow the orders that said, do this, do that, and we did. France has not been grateful. Not at all."


Mike Thomson presents Radio 4's Document at 2000BST on Monday 6 April
BBC NEWS | World | Europe | Paris liberation made 'whites only'
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#2 Drew5233

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Posted 06 April 2009 - 07:52 PM

Reading that it wouldn't have surprised me if some American troops dressed up in French uniforms to make up the numbers.

I really feel for a lot of ethnic minority troops who fought for the Allies...Personally I think far too many got a s**t deal. It's quite shameful really.

Regards
Andy
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#3 ypresman

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Posted 06 April 2009 - 07:57 PM

Here it is here:

BBC NEWS | World | Europe | Paris liberation made 'whites only'
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#4 Drew5233

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Posted 06 April 2009 - 08:00 PM

That article says that many of the French leading the parade were from Spain-where did they get them from? :unsure:

Just out of curiosity does anyone know if there was any French colonial vets at the victory commemorations like the D-Day ones?

Cheers
Andy
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#5 Smudger Jnr

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Posted 06 April 2009 - 08:01 PM

It rather pre dates our own treatment of the Gurkhas, both of which are nothing to be proud of.

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Tom
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#6 Drew5233

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Posted 06 April 2009 - 08:08 PM

Tom, I think it's fair to say you could add that to virtually all of the commonwealth at some time or another.

I wonder at what point the British Army allowed Gurkhas to become officers and the like?

Regards
Andy
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#7 dbf

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Posted 06 April 2009 - 08:28 PM

A 1939-40 History here of Tirailleurs Senegalais; even for those of us whose French is rather sketchy, some nice pics, incl a holder of Croix de guerre avec étoile d’argent.

http://www.defense.g...n_1940_mc10.pdf
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#8 Rich Payne

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Posted 06 April 2009 - 08:34 PM

Paris wasn't of course really liberated by FF forces. The whole thing was stage-managed by De Gaulle who even at that stage was intent on re-building a national myth and attempting to sweep away the events of 1940 and the subsequent collaboration.

He simply had to demonstrate that the French people had freed themselves. Even now, they'll grudgingly admit that they had some help from the mighty US but most will ignore or deny that the British or Canadians had a part in it. (Mind you, since 1066 they've probably regarded us as colonials !)
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#9 Elven6

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Posted 06 April 2009 - 08:56 PM

Funny how when the world has it's back against the wall racism still prevails, would the Allies have been able to defend The Pacific without the help of the commonwealth? Probably not, what about Africa and the Mid East? Might be a stretch,
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#10 sapper

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Posted 06 April 2009 - 09:15 PM

The British forces were strictly forbidden to enter Paris. That some got there is no doubt, but I recall the order very well. It was to be an American and French Victory ride. The British were to be sidelined.
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#11 Paul Reed

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Posted 06 April 2009 - 09:21 PM

Given what Black French colonial troops did for France in 1940, I have long believed that the exclusion of them from French liberation in 1944 was an insult... but hey, I have lived in France, a country that is endemically racist in a way that we simply cannot comprehend in the UK.
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#12 Owen

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Posted 06 April 2009 - 09:24 PM

Sure we had a thread on this before...
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#13 dbf

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Posted 06 April 2009 - 09:27 PM

For those who can access here's a link to the current BBC R4 Document programmes:
BBC - BBC Radio 4 Programmes - Document
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#14 Steve G

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Posted 06 April 2009 - 11:21 PM

Funny how when the world has it's back against the wall racism still prevails



Here, here! Whole thing was based on Racism in the first place, was it not? Just seems to me like everyone was putting aside their own particular Racisms, as long as who ever was serving them a purpose. Then, at the finish, it was all back out in the open and everyone could get back to showing their true colours again ~ Except Germany, of course. Because they lost and so could be vilified and held held up as an example / to account for having elements of Racism :huh:

Scratch the surface and it all rather smacks of the pot calling the kettle 'a domestic utilitarian vessel of colour', doesn't it?
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#15 Elven6

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Posted 06 April 2009 - 11:57 PM

Here, here! Whole thing was based on Racism in the first place, was it not? Just seems to me like everyone was putting aside their own particular Racisms, as long as who ever was serving them a purpose. Then, at the finish, it was all back out in the open and everyone could get back to showing their true colours again ~ Except Germany, of course. Because they lost and so could be vilified and held held up as an example / to account for having elements of Racism :huh:

Scratch the surface and it all rather smacks of the pot calling the kettle 'a domestic utilitarian vessel of colour', doesn't it?


Your right! Unfortunately billions of people have the opposite view, both sides had there angels and demons (for lack of a better term).
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#16 Tom Canning

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Posted 07 April 2009 - 02:55 AM

Seems to me that some people are refusing to turn over the coin - just to have peek at the other side -

It was back in the early 20'e when French Colonial troops were used to guard the Rhineland - the raping and pillaging was something apparently to behold......fast forward to 1944 - the first battle of Cassino, Italy... - the French Colonial Troops of Gen. Juin of the US 5th Army were used to strike at the rear of the Monastery towards Altina - at the same time the US 36th Division - followed by the 34th US Division were to attack nearer the Monastery.

Thus US 34th Attack failed and the French Colonials of the 2nd Moroccans and 3rd Algerians the Tunisians being in reserve, were brought back to reinforce them - and the whole thing failed .......BUT

It then came to light that many villages around that area had been attacked not only militarily but by raping and looting by the - at that time - three French Colonial Divisions......they were thus assisted on their way back to the Western sector of the US 5th Army by a determined 8th Army HQ staff - they were not heard from again until Operation Diadem in the Arunci Mountains and by that time they had aquired yet another Algerian Division.....

after the fall of Rome the constant yammering by the US for another landing in the South of France saw the FOUR French Colonial Divisions plus another three US divisions beamed over to the South of France...unbeknownst to Gen Degaulle which must have given him four ot five heart attacks to think that these four divisons of savages were now on his sacred land of France - raping and pillaging as they did in the 1920's !

So maybe De Gaulle had a good point - can't see that they have changed all that much.... and now - who would like a divison of Algerians running down your High Street.....

Cheers
anyone ?
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#17 Owen

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Posted 07 April 2009 - 07:19 AM

- who would like a divison of Algerians running down your High Street.....

well I was in France in 2005 when the riots were happening, luckily didn't get caught up in it but they are treated as second class citizens now.
But who won the World Cup for France in 1998?
A team full of Frenchmen with African roots.
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#18 Za Rodinu

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Posted 07 April 2009 - 08:09 AM

Things are never simple and not all spectacles are rosy.

The discussion on this Goumier matter was quite extensive in the France 1940 Yahoo group, and there is further reading at the esteemed WW2F and other places as well.

In Military Thoughts: 03/01/2007 - 04/01/2007 an interesting item is:

Curzio Malaparte followed the Allied troops from Naples and reported how Italian women in Naples valued black Americans more than whites and were not reluctant to bring them home as "fiancès". Malaparte further chronicles an incident with the Moroccans (goumiers) in the French army before the Allied troops marched on Rome:

"When news of the goumiers' arrival spread throught the district, all the peasants fled, crossing themselves...and a number of monks immediately hurried forward from the neighbouring monasteries to convert the goumiers ...they had orders to baptize all the Moroccans because the Pope did not want Turks in Rome. The Holy Father had in fact sent a radio message to the Allied Command in which he expressed his desire that the Moroccan Division should be halted at the gates of the Eternal City".

[the term Turk is used to describe in a generic manner any Muslim, regardless of nationality. The goums of course were not Turks, but Morroccans.]

It was not black American troops, but Muslims in the French Army that he feared. The reason "why the Pope didn't want Turks in Rome" was that "there were three thousand women refugees in the papal villa". "It has devolved upon me, said General Guillaume (the French general), to throw a cordon of sentries round the outer walls of the papal villa so as to prevent the goumiers from going in to pay their addresses to the Pope's wives".

[it seems the [I]goum [/I]not only committed rape, pillage, and murder on the slopes of Cassino, but intended to do the same on the grounds of the Vatican?? Seek out the refugee women and have a repitition of what previously transpired? As for converting the goum and baptizing them, well, forget it!!]

Curzio Malaparte was a person perhaps uniquely suited to report events as they occurred. Was first in the 1920's an ardent fascist, then ran afoul of the Mussolini regime, later rehabilitated by Count Ciano himself [the son-in-law of the Duce'], ended up his life as a communist!!??

[Malaparte was certainly a man of varied political beliefs. Did not see the democratic, Christian, capitalist institutions of the western world as AS HAVING answers for the problems of the common man? Saw either fascism or communism as viable alternatives.]

Wrote extensively as a journalist and author. Authored several books during the war years. Again, was perhaps uniquely qualified in the manner with which he reported the war.

"From November 1943 to March 1946 he was attached to the American High Command in Italy as an Italian Liaison Officer."

There was even an Italian word for this: Marocchinate q.v. ("Moroccanries", if I may attempt to dabble at translating)

Oh, and a sizable number of the references to this that I saw in the net were on racist forums, so we do need to tread carefully.
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#19 Gibbo

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Posted 07 April 2009 - 08:45 AM

That article says that many of the French leading the parade were from Spain-where did they get them from? :unsure:

Just out of curiosity does anyone know if there was any French colonial vets at the victory commemorations like the D-Day ones?

Cheers
Andy



The Spaniards were Republicans who'd fled Spain after the end of the Civil War and subsequently joined the French Foreign Legion. The site linked below deals with Spaniards who fought on both sides during WWII; you need to scroll about half way down the page to the section entitled 'Free French and La Nueve (RMT)' to read about the ones who entered Paris in August 1944.

1939 - 45 Spanish Involvement in WWII
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#20 Drew5233

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Posted 07 April 2009 - 11:17 AM

Cheers for the link Gibbo. Something I'd never considered but it does make sense considering events after the civil war in Spain.

As for all this racial rubbish can we change the record I find it rather boring reading threads about Somalian Pirates wanting world domination and all Black Africans being rapists. If I wanted to read such sterotypes I'd go join a 'white power' forum.

Cheers
Andy
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#21 Tom Canning

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Posted 07 April 2009 - 07:50 PM

Owen - you are so right - Zindane - that brilliant footballer was born in Algeria - great character - with the head butt !

Cheers
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#22 dbf

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Posted 07 April 2009 - 08:42 PM

If any one cares to read my original post and comment on the statements made in that news item or indeed the programme link which I gave, I would really appreciate it.

I for one was aware of the manipulations to get French troops in Paris, not about there being no black faces allowed - which is what this thread is really supposed to be about.

It follows then that I was also equally ignorant of the US and British involvement in that decision.

BTW the item I quoted mentioned that N African troops were indeed present in Paris, presumably they were 'white enough' to participate ..?

The figures proposed in the programme for the casualties sustained by Tirailleurs Senegalais in 1940 - 17,000 out of 40,000 - anyone got any comments on that? I gather figures are hard to establish given the nature of many of their deaths and burial.

Thank you.
Regards,
D
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#23 Drew5233

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Posted 07 April 2009 - 10:16 PM

Di,

I've saved my 4,000 post just for you :D

The bit regarding the British involvement, I suspect that Britain at times of political decisions was a bit of a lamb in wolves clothing. I first started to think this when I discovered Britain turned a bit of blind eye to the Katyn Wood massacre when I watched the BBC series 'behind closed doors' and left me wondering if these were the first shoots of Britain a bit of a follower rather than a leader. I was told in training that today its called acquiesce which fits quite well to this.

Either way and whatever the reasons it's still morally wrong in my book to encourage anyone to lay their life on the line for you then to shun because of the colour of their skin.

Cheers
Andy
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#24 Ron Goldstein

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Posted 20 March 2010 - 11:52 PM

Someone under the name of "Crosbygirl"has just posted this enquiry on the "other" forum.

Does anyone know how I may contact something similar to a Veterans Agency for the Goumiers? I am currently writing a book of Memoirs from those who fought in Italy during the Italy Campaign 1943-45 and would like input Veterans from every branch of the military services. Many thanks


Anyone care to earn some Brownie Points by coming up with a helpful answer ?

Ron

Edited by Ron Goldstein, 21 March 2010 - 12:07 AM.

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If I am not for myself, then who will be for me?
And if I am only for myself, what am I?
And if not now, when?
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:peepwalla:

 

I was "called-up", as a 19 year old, on the 1st of Oct 1942 and was one of 5 serving brothers, one of whom, Jack, was in RAF Bomber Command and was killed on March 16th 1945.

I served as a Driver/Op (Wireless Operator) with the 49th Light Anti Aircraft Rgt. (78 Div) from Apr 1943 to Dec 1944 (North Africa, Sicily, Italy, Egypt). The Regiment was disbanded in Dec 1944 and I was retrained (in Italy) by the Royal Armoured Corps.

 

Finally, I served as Loader/Op with the 4th Queen's Own Hussars (6th Armd.,78th & 56 Div) from Mar 1945 to Dec 1946 (Italy, Austria, Germany) finishing up as Tech Cpl. for "A" Sqdrn.  I was "De-mobbed" in Apr 1947

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#25 Drew5233

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Posted 21 March 2010 - 12:05 AM

Contact the French and or Morrocan Embassies in the country he is in? I suspect they will be able tell him if there is an offical association in France or Morroco.

Alternatively if he can speak French he could email these:

ANORI - Association Nationale des Reservistes de l'Infanterie -- Histoire des Goumiers, Goums et Tabors

Or better still:

goumier.org, site officiel des anciens combattants marocains de l'armée française

Cheers
A
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#26 Ron Goldstein

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Posted 21 March 2010 - 12:13 AM

Andy

Thanks for prompt reply.

I've left Crosbygirl a link to this site so that she can help herself to any info

Regards

Ron
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If I am not for myself, then who will be for me?
And if I am only for myself, what am I?
And if not now, when?
Rabbi Hillel circa 30 BCE


:peepwalla:

 

I was "called-up", as a 19 year old, on the 1st of Oct 1942 and was one of 5 serving brothers, one of whom, Jack, was in RAF Bomber Command and was killed on March 16th 1945.

I served as a Driver/Op (Wireless Operator) with the 49th Light Anti Aircraft Rgt. (78 Div) from Apr 1943 to Dec 1944 (North Africa, Sicily, Italy, Egypt). The Regiment was disbanded in Dec 1944 and I was retrained (in Italy) by the Royal Armoured Corps.

 

Finally, I served as Loader/Op with the 4th Queen's Own Hussars (6th Armd.,78th & 56 Div) from Mar 1945 to Dec 1946 (Italy, Austria, Germany) finishing up as Tech Cpl. for "A" Sqdrn.  I was "De-mobbed" in Apr 1947

http://www.blogger.c...947129038825503


#27 ww2ni

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Posted 21 March 2010 - 11:47 AM

De Gaulle wanted the french at the head of a victory parade for a victory which was won by many nations other than france.

Sorry to say that even now on trips to France I find a certain arrogance which is not very helpful.

Why are there so many wide avenues in Paris?? - So the Germans can march in the shade!
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#28 Za Rodinu

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Posted 21 March 2010 - 12:31 PM

Thank you for your helpful comment, ww2ni.
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#29 ww2ni

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Posted 21 March 2010 - 02:15 PM

In 1966 upon being told that Charles DeGaulle had taken France out of NATO and that all U.S. Troops must be evacuated off of French soil President Lyndon Johnson told Secretary of State Dean Rusk: Ask him about the cemeteries Dean! So at end of the meeting Dean did ask DeGaulle if his order to remove all U.S. troops from French soil also included the 60,000+ soldiers buried in France from World War I and World War II. DeGaulle never answered.
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#30 Harry Ree

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Posted 21 March 2010 - 02:39 PM

In 1966 upon being told that Charles DeGaulle had taken France out of NATO and that all U.S. Troops must be evacuated off of French soil President Lyndon Johnson told Secretary of State Dean Rusk: Ask him about the cemeteries Dean! So at end of the meeting Dean did ask DeGaulle if his order to remove all U.S. troops from French soil also included the 60,000+ soldiers buried in France from World War I and World War II. DeGaulle never answered.


Just a quick point on this one.

De Gaulle insisted that France should sanction the use of nuclear weapons based on French soil.The US would not agree to this and were shown the door.

As I see it,France remained a member of NATO but would not allow non French controlled nuclear weapons on French soil and it was reluctantly accepted.I think it was Chirac who brought France back into full membership of NATO but the development of ICBMs from land and submarine etc had long overrun any requirement to base manned aircraft nuclear delivery systems on French soil.
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