French Freedom Papers

De Gaulle to Brooke: 11/15/1942

Historical Context

This letter was written to Sir Alan F. Brooke by General Charles de Gaulle on November 15, 1942.  Operation Torch had been carried out less than a week before, with Algiers surrendered to the Free French, now called the Fighting French, on November 10. Furthermore, Italian control of Libya, which had been Italian territory since 1911, had weakened considerably. In August 1942, the Axis had launched its final offensive, which was halted by the British on September 3.

General de Gaulle also makes use of the historical context throughout his letter. He specifically cites General Leclerc's participation in the capture of Kufra, a series of oases near the Egyptian border, which had been a symbol of Italian power and control since 1931. The conflict ended with the surrender of the Italians on March 1, 1941, despite their having obtained a copy of Leclerc's plans. He also cites the Murzuk raids, which were a series of raids by the British Long Range Desert Group (LRDG) and the Fighting French, which attacked several Italian outposts. Its primary accomplishments were the capture of weapons and equipment, as well as the contribution to French motorization. This was also the attack that further split the Italian military, leaving them unable to assist the German forces in Europe due to the need to contend with the Free French in Africa.

Letter Summary

General Charles de Gaulle begins by noting the success of Operation Torch, making it clear that he desires to capitalize on this success by having General Leclerc attack South Libya in order to drive the remaining Italian troops out of Fezzan, and eventually, out of Libya altogether. He specifically notes the materials and manpower which Leclerc has, and references the previous experience of the troops in Kufra and Murzuk.

His reason for citing these successes becomes clear when he writes that although he believes Leclerc is capable of taking Fezzan, he will need support from the Royal Air Force (RAF) Middle East Command. General de Gaulle's intent in writing the letter is to inform General Sir Alan F. Brooke what he is planning, why, what he has, and what else he will need to carry it out.



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Grehan, John, and Martin Mace. Operations in North Africa and the Middle East 1942-1944: El Alamein, Tunisia, Algeria and Operation Torch (Despatches from the Front). N.p.: Pen and Sword Military, 2015. Print.

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