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The Appeal of June 18th, 1940

The Appeal of June 18th, 1940

As Under-Secretary of State for National Defense and War since June 5th, General De Gaulle decided, when he found out that Prime Minister Paul Reynaud had resigned on June 16th, to go to England "tomorrow morning" to continue the fight.

General De Gaulle arrived in London the morning of June 17th, 1940 accompanied only by Lieutenant Geoffroy de Courcel, his aide-de-camp. Temporarily based at 7-8 Seymour Grove, he wrote the text of the Appeal that he would make the next day, June 18th, 1940 at about 8 pm on the BBC. In his War Memoirs the General explained the circumstances that brought about his Appeal.

"The first thing that had to be done was to hoist the colors. The radio offered to do this. In the afternoon of June 17th, I explained my intentions to Mr. Winston Churchill. Wrecked by the desolation on the shores of England, what would I have done without his cooperation? He immediately offered me the BBC and put it at my service as somewhere to begin. We agreed that I would use it as soon as the Pétain administration asked for armistice. That very evening we found out that he had done so. The next day, at 6 pm, I read the text that you know into the microphone".

General De Gaulle at the BBC


"The leaders that have been at the head of the French armies for many years have established a government. This government, has put forward the defeat of our armies, and has contacted the enemy to end the combat. It is true that we have been - and continue being - overtaken by the enemy's mechanical power, both land-based and aeronautical. Much more so that their numbers, it is their tanks, their airplanes and German tactics that have made us retreat. It is the tanks, the airplanes, the tactics of the Germans that have surprised our leaders to the point of leading them to where they are today. But has the final word been spoken? Must hope disappear? Is the defeat final? No! Believe me, I who speak to you with full knowledge of the facts, and tell you that nothing's lost for France. The same means that have defeated us may one day bring us victory. Because France is not alone! She is not alone! She is not alone! She has a vast Empire behind her. She can join forces with the British Empire, which controls the sea and continues to fight. Like England, France too has unlimited access to the immense industry of the United States. This war is not limited to the sorrowful confines of our country. This war will not be decided by the battle taking place in France. This war is a world war. None of the mistakes, none of the delays, none of the suffering shall deny that in this world we can find all the means necessary to crush our enemies one day. Though we may be struck down by mechanical power today, we shall win by a superior mechanical power in the future. Therein lies the world's destiny. I, General De Gaulle, in London at present, invite the French officers and soldiers who are currently on British soil, or who will be here in the future, with or without their weapons; I invite engineers and laborers who are specialized in the arms industry, who are on British soil, or who will be here in the future, to contact me. Whatever happens, the flame of the French resistance must not be blown out - and it shall not be blown out. Tomorrow I shall, as I have today, speak through the London radio."

C. De Gaulle