Mers el-Kebir

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(3 July 1940)

Mers el-Kebir was a French naval base in the Gulf of Oran (Algeria), finally evacuated by the French in 1968. In World War II, shortly after the French surrender to the Germans in 1940, a British fleet arrived with orders to prevent the French fleet falling into German or Italian hands. When the French refused to scuttle their own ships or transfer them to British bases in the West Indies, the British bombarded the base, damaging three large battleships and killing over 1,000 French seamen. In retaliation the French bombed Gibraltar. The event caused deep resentment in France, leading many to support the Vichy government, while hindering de Gaulle's efforts at rallying French resistance at the side of the English.

Subjects: Contemporary History (Post 1945).

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