What if Admiral Francois Darlan continued the resistance against Nazi Germany at North Africa in June 1940 ?

Jul 2018
531
Hong Kong
What if Admiral Francois Darlan, the commander-in-chief of the French Navy, utilized his powerful navy to organize the formidable resistance against Nazi Germany with the colonial bases of French North Africa and the British aid rather than joining the Vichy French government headed by Petain ?

How would the history of the Second World War change if Darlan played the "alternative route" !? Would the Allied side's military situation much better than the historical one ?
 
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Chlodio

Forum Staff
Aug 2016
4,575
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1. Family members of the Free French who were living in France would have been rounded up by the Germans and held as hostages against Free French good behavior. Since this alternate history envisages the Free French playing an active role in the war, then many hostages would have been executed.

2. The French Navy probably wouldn't amount to much without spare parts and supplies that could come only from France. This would be an accumulating problem - negligible in 1940, annoying in 1941, debilitating by 1942.

3. If the British could put air bases in Tunisia they could probably reinforce Malta much easier.

4. Since French North Africa no longer needs to be invaded, the Americans probably would not be drawn into any kind of Mediterranean distraction. The British and Free French could handle Italy on their own.

5. Even if they could concentrate all of their forces in Britain, I doubt the Americans could launch a cross channel invasion before 1944 because of the shortage of landing craft. The Germans might take the threat of invasion more seriously and begin construction of the Atlantic Wall sooner.

6. The Americans would be reluctant to leave their European forces idle for so long, and might shift resources to the Pacific.
 
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Jan 2013
1,061
Toronto, Canada
The British occupy Libya in 1940 with French support. The Afrika Corps is never created and Rommel is just another German general. Once the Ethiopian campaign is finished and with no French colonial campaigns to distract it, British forces in Africa start raiding Axis positions throughout the Mediterranean. Malta is never seriously threatened. The invasion of Sicily is launched in late 1942 to show the Americans that Britain can run major operations without them.
 
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Futurist

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May 2014
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SoCal
1. Family members of the Free French who were living in France would have been rounded up by the Germans and held as hostages against Free French good behavior. Since this alternate history envisages the Free French playing an active role in the war, then many hostages would have been executed.

2. The French Navy probably wouldn't amount to much without spare parts and supplies that could come only from France. This would be an accumulating problem - negligible in 1940, annoying in 1941, debilitating by 1942.

3. If the British could put air bases in Tunisia they could probably reinforce Malta much easier.

4. Since French North Africa no longer needs to be invaded, the Americans probably would not be drawn into any kind of Mediterranean distraction. The British and Free French could handle Italy on their own.

5. Even if they could concentrate all of their forces in Britain, I doubt the Americans could launch a cross channel invasion before 1944 because of the shortage of landing craft. The Germans might take the threat of invasion more seriously and begin construction of the Atlantic Wall sooner.

6. The Americans would be reluctant to leave their European forces idle for so long, and might shift resources to the Pacific.
Agreed with most of your points here, but in regards to #2, why can't these spare parts and supplies come from Britain and/or the US? Are Britain and/or the US incapable of manufacturing substitute parts and supplies that would work on French ships?
 

pugsville

Ad Honorem
Oct 2010
9,627
1. Family members of the Free French who were living in France would have been rounded up by the Germans and held as hostages against Free French good behavior. Since this alternate history envisages the Free French playing an active role in the war, then many hostages would have been executed.
There were pretty large free french forces historically and they and this policy was not followed. It's quite a jump. It's likely to lead to more resistance not less,

2. The French Navy probably wouldn't amount to much without spare parts and supplies that could come only from France. This would be an accumulating problem - negligible in 1940, annoying in 1941, debilitating by 1942.
What spare parts? Ammountion yes (and tht could be either manufactured or replaced) but what soare parts for shiops were just sitting around? T

A number of ships served the Free French navy from early on and were still running in 1945. But these ships and refits and repeairs during the war and returned to service.

Though quite a few Free french manned British/US built ships. Trained sailors would be of use even without ships.
 
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Chlodio

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Aug 2016
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Agreed with most of your points here, but in regards to #2, why can't these spare parts and supplies come from Britain and/or the US? Are Britain and/or the US incapable of manufacturing substitute parts and supplies that would work on French ships?
What spare parts? Ammountion yes (and tht could be either manufactured or replaced) but what soare parts for shiops were just sitting around?
It would depend on how unique the French ships were. All ships are somewhat unique. They generally don't build them on assembly lines, so there are no standardized, interchangeable parts. Imperial vs metric measurements would be one factor to consider. For instance, the Strasbourg-class battle cruisers had 330mm guns which translates to aprx 13 inches. I don't recall any other ship having 13 inch guns, so resupplying the ammo could be problematic. But even basic nuts and bolts - imperial and metric never match up.

Note the Richelieu spent most of the war in and out of the repair yards. I especially like the part about the blowers being unable to supply enough oxygen to the boilers so that unburned fuel clogged her boiler tubes. Then there's the bit about how the Americans made some ammo for her guns, but they only made armor piercing ammo so she could not be used for invasion bombardments.
 
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pugsville

Ad Honorem
Oct 2010
9,627
Hmm reading aboout the Free French Navy , curious thing while the Free French sailors were dropped from the active service lists of the French Navy and thus there families no longer received thi sailors pay. However the Vichy French created a new category of payment "Assistance D" *D for Dissandants) and paid the families at teh same rate as before. Even in the German occupied zone for the restof the exsistance of the Vichy Government. Free French silaors famalies in Frannce recived payment form the Vichy French government as the same rate as teh Vichy French Navy. I

Free French Navy personal Nov 1940 - 3,000 , Jan1 1942 4,700 jan 1943 5,100


The French Navy in World War II (page 160-170)
By Paul Auphan, Jacques Mordai
 

pugsville

Ad Honorem
Oct 2010
9,627
It would depend on how unique the French ships were. All ships are somewhat unique. They generally don't build them on assembly lines, so there are no standardized, interchangeable parts. Imperial vs metric measurements would be one factor to consider. For instance, the Strasbourg-class battle cruisers had 330mm guns which translates to aprx 13 inches. I don't recall any other ship having 13 inch guns, so resupplying the ammo could be problematic. But even basic nuts and bolts - imperial and metric never match up.

Note the Richelieu spent most of the war in and out of the repair yards. I especially like the part about the blowers being unable to supply enough oxygen to the boilers so that unburned fuel clogged her boiler tubes. Then there's the bit about how the Americans made some ammo for her guns, but they only made armor piercing ammo so she could not be used for invasion bombardments.
Yes in my internet reading on this just now constant mention is made of problems of spares and maintaining the Free French Ships in service. Despite this a number of ships wer emaintined in service throughgout (though only the more modern ones were , teh older ships simply were not used from the start). I can' t find out what they did for ammunition. Though main armament appears not to be relaced when various ships were in for various refits during the war. The Destroyers and corvettes saw plenty of action so something must have been worked out. AA Guns should not have been much of a problem as almost all ships were pretty qucikly upgraded in line with teh standard up grades for British ships leaidng to the same guns as British ships (20 and 40mm) AA upgrades early in the war for many ships in a lot of navies basicaly replaced existing AA armament anyway.
 

pugsville

Ad Honorem
Oct 2010
9,627
Hmm I read that sept 1940 Nov 1943 , 540 Vichy french convoys passed the straits of Gibraltar imported 3,000,000 tons into vichy France mainly food.
 

Futurist

Ad Honoris
May 2014
22,239
SoCal
It would depend on how unique the French ships were. All ships are somewhat unique. They generally don't build them on assembly lines, so there are no standardized, interchangeable parts. Imperial vs metric measurements would be one factor to consider. For instance, the Strasbourg-class battle cruisers had 330mm guns which translates to aprx 13 inches. I don't recall any other ship having 13 inch guns, so resupplying the ammo could be problematic. But even basic nuts and bolts - imperial and metric never match up.

Note the Richelieu spent most of the war in and out of the repair yards. I especially like the part about the blowers being unable to supply enough oxygen to the boilers so that unburned fuel clogged her boiler tubes. Then there's the bit about how the Americans made some ammo for her guns, but they only made armor piercing ammo so she could not be used for invasion bombardments.
Interesting. Also, would this mean that it would have likewise been pointless for the French government in general to flee to Algiers and to fight on after the Fall of France in 1940 considering that all of the industrial and ship-making facilities of European France would have ended up under Nazi rule in this scenario?