French Freedom Papers

De Gaulle to Eden: 06/13/1942

Historical Context 

In this letter from Charles de Gaulle to Anthony Eden, the Foreign Secretary of the United Kingdom during World War II, a complicated issue arises. De Gaulle, whose tone can clearly be interpreted as indignant, is informing Eden of one of his former military colleagues and his disorderly conduct. Admiral Émile Muselier, to whom the letter refers, was a decorated military figure and was the head of the Naval and Air forces for the Free French. Given his high rank, Admiral Muselier had numerous disagreements with General de Gaulle due to de Gaulle’s rank in power, despite their close association with one another. In January of 1941, Admiral Muselier was accused of leaking information to the Vichy government and British forces had him arrested. After de Gaulle discovered that these letters were false, de Gaulle moved for his liberation from Scotland Yard. Soon after, in December 1941, Muselier was sent to Saint Pierre-et-Miquelon to rally French Canadian troops for the cause, and going directly against de Gaulle’s orders, invaded the region in order to gain support. Muselier was forbidden all contact with the North American allies, given that he had taken liberties as de Gaulle’s representative in North America. Muselier then resigned from his position as Inspector General of the Free French and was moved to Algiers, where he would finish out his career with the Free French working under General Giraud as the Chief of the naval delegation to the military Mission for German affairs. While de Gaulle pushes for Muselier’s punishment, no severe action is ever taken against him, despite his somewhat scandalous behavior. 

Letter Summary

In this letter, dated June 13, 1942, General Charles de Gaulle writes to Anthony Eden about the scandalous actions of Vice Admiral Muselier. On May 15th, 1942, Muselier had sent de Gaulle a letter that refused any association with him. The conflict began when de Gaulle sent Muselier to Quebec to encourage French allies in North America, however he had insisted that there be no military invasion. Muselier directly ignored his orders and invaded Saint Pierre-et-Miquelon.

De Gaulle, superior in rank for the French Committee of National Liberation, was furious. In this letter, de Gaulle is demanding that an official punishment be made for Muselier's outright disobedience. 


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