THE EARLY SUMMER days of 1940 were dark for Britain. They were darker still for France and Frenchmen everywhere. On the afternoon of 17 June, General Charles de Gaulle, then a junior minister in Reynaud's government, flew to London. That evening he made his memorable broadcast - France, with its vast empire, and with Britain's support, would fight on. Later, Churchill, his French almost incomprehensible, urged Frenchmen to continue the struggle.
These pleas were made largely in vain. In the preceding weeks, the Maginot Line had been bypassed, Paris had fallen, and the British Army had retreated to the Channel ports, from where almost 350,000 would be rescued. The French, with few exceptions, were too demoralised and bewildered to fight on,