IN JANUARY 1940 the Chef of the Imperial General Staff, General Sir Edmund Ironside, recorded his impressions of the French army after a tour of inspection. In his diary he wrote, 'I say to myself that we must have confidence in the French army. It is the only thing in which we can have confidence. Our own army is just a little one and we are dependent on the French. We have not even the same fine army we had in 1914. All depends on the French army and we can do nothing about it. . .'.
That was six months into the Phoney War. Six months later, after six weeks of battle, the French army had been defeated and the new French Government, headed by Marshal Petain, sued for an armistice. Halfway through the fighting the British Expeditionary Force, or most of it, had been evacuated