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A Question of Honour? Scuttling Vichy's Fleet

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Why did the whole of Marshal Petain's fleet go to the bottom of Toulon harbour in November 1942? Anthony Clayton uncovers a tale of amour propre in this 50th anniversary account.

France entered the Second World War with one of the finest navies in her history, carefully built up despite the economic and manpower difficulties of the 1930s. On November 27th, 1942, the cream of this navy dramatically destroyed itself to preserve its honour. In the space of two hours more warships were sunk than on any other occasion since the scuttling of the German Navy at Scapa Flow in 1919 – a comparable event.

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Historical dictionary: Vichy France

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