Sunday, 11 December 2011

Book review – England’s Last War Against France

The Napoleonic Wars? Nope, later than that. The full title says it all England’s Last War Against France – Fighting Vichy 1940 – 1942. Colin Smith, 2009, 490 pages.
I’m most interested in early war, and I have read a lot about the lesser known campaigns the last couple of year, for example the East African campaign, Iraq, Norway, the Winter War in Finland and Operation Compass.
I have seen some information about Mers-el-Kébir, Syria and Madagascar also, but didn’t know more than rudimentary things about that. The solution to this gap in knowledge is this book. It is a very detailed description of Vichy and British politics and the fighting that took place between Great Britain and Vichy France.
You will find chapters about the slaughter of the French fleet in Mers-el-Kébir, the failed seaborne invasion of French West Africa, the invasion of Syria and the seaborne landing on Madagascar with the prolonged fighting there. Operation Torch is detailed and also the last days of Vichy France and the aftermath for the top brass of the Vichy regime.
The book gives detailed description of the fighting, and individual battles. There is a lot of very useful information if you want to wargame some of the battles, and I found several that would be great to game. The seaborne landings in the defended harbours of Antsirane, Madagascar (British success) and Oran in Algeria (catastrophic for the American/British force) could be fantastic to try out as a wargame and small scale, as it involves large vessels.
All in all a very interesting book about an almost forgotten part of WWII. I highly recommend it if you have any interest in these more obscure campaigns, and worth a read if you have a general interest in WWII.
I give England’s Last War against France a 4 out of 5 rating.

No comments:

Post a Comment