At the height of World War II, while the Germans were setting their sights on Moscow, Free French, British and Australian forces launched an assault on the Vichy French army in the Middle East on 8th June 1941. This joint initiative of Churchill and de Gaulle - codename "Operation Exporter" - led to one of the most shocking conflicts of World War II. Was this an attempt by the Allied forces to cause mass desertions from the Vichy forces to the Free French? Or were Churchill and de Gaulle motivated to reassert their respective control of the Middle East? The fight caused the loss of 10,000 lives, numerous ships and an estimated 200 aircraft. The Australian forces, under the command of Lieutenant General John Lavarack, carried out the bulk of the fighting and suffered the most casualties. The Vichy Army was overcome, but even during the bitter campaign, the Free French airmen refused to fire on their Vichy compatriots. Henri de Wailly here presents the story of this extraordinary campaign by the British, Australian and Free French forces against Vichy French forces in Syria and Lebanon, the true extent of which has largely been forgotten.
Henri de Wailly teaches at the Saint Cyr French National Military Academy. A specialist in military history, he has written several books in French including 1945 l'empire rompu : Syrie, Algerie, Indochine and Liban, Syrie : le mandat : 1919-1940. A graduate of the Sydney University Medical School, William Land holds an M.Litt from the University of New England and a PhD from the Department of French Studies of the University of Sydney. A retired reserve group captain of the Royal Australian Air Force, he served in Malaysia, Papua New Guinea, Thailand and Vietnam. He is currently part of the team translating records from the Baudin Expedition of 1800-1804.
Foreword: France in the Middle East FIRST PART - The noose tightensChapter 1: 1939. WeygandChapter 2: 1940: The time of choiceChapter 3: From one war to the nextChapter 4: 1941 DentzChapter 5: de Gaulle Chapter 6: The noose tightens Chapter 7: Rachid Ali Chapter 8: DarlanChapter 9: Stirring up a hornet's nestChapter 10: War?Chapter 11: War!Chapter 12: The Free French at Kastina SECOND PART - The RuptureChapter 13: 8 June The OffensiveChapter 14: Battle for DamascusChapter 15: Kuneitra. The counterattackChapter 16: Negotiate?Chapter 17: Armistice at Saint-Jean d'AcreChapter 18: Brother enemiesChapter 19: Vae victisBibliography