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Winston Churchill feared war against France during WWII

Churchill ordered the bombardment of the French ships in July 1940

Share on Facebook November 1, 2013, Reporter : ANI, Reader : 415

The Nobel Prize in Literature 1953 was awarded to Winston Churchill "for his mastery of historical and biographical description as well as for brilliant oratory in defending exalted human values" news

London, Nov. 1 (ANI): A secret telegram issued by Winston Churchill has revealed that the former British PM's decision to attack the French ships during the Second World War was one of the hardest he had been forced to take.

According to the Daily Express, Churchill was worried that German invader Adolf Hitler would take control of the potent French Mediterranean fleet and use the ships to raid England.

Churchill ordered the bombardment of the French ships in July 1940, killing almost 1,300 French sailors in the action, after they failed to respond to his warning of "scuttling the ships or sending them across the Channel".

Soon after the attack, British commanders-in-chief all over the world received a secret telegram from England's war office, explaining that every precaution should be taken in case the French declare war against Britain. (ANI)

The Daily Express reports that, Churchill gave the French an ultimatum: Scuttle the ships or send them across the Channel to help the British war effort.

When the French failed to respond, he took matters into his own hands and ordered the Navy to launch a devastating bombardment of their ships in Mers-el-Kebir, near Oran in Algeria.

Nearly 1,300 French sailors died in the action in July 1940. That meant Britain had killed more French servicemen than they had Germans in any single action.

The attack sparked a diplomatic emergency. Within hours, the War Office issued a secret telegram to British commanders-in-chief all over the world, telling them: “We cannot tell what the consequences may be but every precaution should be taken in case the French declare war against us.”

One copy of the message, stamped “Secret Cipher Telegram” was sent to Sir John Dill, then Chief of the Imperial General Staff.

A relative is selling it at International Autograph Auctions in London on November 3 for an estimated £200. [source: ANI & Daily Express]

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