Free French activities in the Pacific theater of World War 2?

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Admiral Bloonbeard
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Free French activities in the Pacific theater of World War 2?

Post by Admiral Bloonbeard » 12 Sep 2021 09:25

What did Free France (not Vichy France) do in the Pacific theater of World War 2 and what units they had in the theater?

EwenS
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Re: Free French activities in the Pacific theater of World War 2?

Post by EwenS » 13 Sep 2021 08:49

The destroyer / light cruiser Le Triomphant and some of the Bougainville class adviso spent time in the Pacific. These links will give you a starting point.
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/French_ ... Triomphant
https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bougain ... lass_aviso

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Loïc
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Re: Free French activities in the Pacific theater of World War 2?

Post by Loïc » 13 Sep 2021 15:39

hello

with the Richelieu Le Triomphant there were also Chevreuil, Savorgnan de Brazza, Cap des Palmes, La Grandière, Oiseau des Iles

Présence Française dans le Pacifique des navires de la France Libre
http://ifm.free.fr/htmlpages/pdf/2009/4 ... ifique.pdf

that is a question I asked to my compatriots several years ago, they reply me the following
https://www.39-45.org/viewtopic.php?f=50&t=13663

The FNFL, with their modest means, effectively participated in operations in the Pacific and the Indian Ocean.
The destroyer Le Triomphant, the auxiliary cruiser Cap des Palmes and the Aviso Chevreuil were sent to the Pacific, participating in particular in evacuation, escort and transport missions. However, they were then assigned by the US Navy to areas of no interest. A bad use therefore.

After the resumption of combat by the naval forces of North Africa, the battleship Richelieu was sent to the Indian Ocean. Within an allied task force, he took part in an attack on the port of Sourabaya (Java, Dutch East Indies).
The Savorgnan de Brazza chased Japanese submarines in the Indian Ocean, it is possible (but not certain) that he managed to sink one of them * (...) joined the Pacific in February-March 1944. There he escorted convoys between Guadalcanal and other islands. He then returned to Ceylon.
A similar one La Grandière, arrived in Tahiti at the end of May 1944. He was in Nouméa the following month to provide escorts.
the Aviso Chevreuil in the rallying of Wallis and Futuna.

* To read on this subject the memories of Admiral Jubelin, a makeshift pilot sailor

Igor

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The light cruiser "Le Triomphant", under the orders of Lieutenant-Commander Philippe Auboyneau, carried out several war missions from Australia, in particular the evacuation of the garrisons of Nauru and Ocean.
The Cap des Palmes and the Aviso Le Chevreuil are also present in the Pacific.
The Aviso Savorgnan de Brazza patrolled the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean from 1941 to 1943 (notably supporting the BFO in the Eritrean campaign).
The Chevreuil will notably allow the rallying of Wallis and Futuna in May 1942.
The Patrol boat Oiseau des Îles will provide connections between the various French islands in the Pacific from October 1941.

This does not take into account the participation of the French merchant navy in this sector.

However, it must be admitted that the main fields of action of the FNFL are the Atlantic and the Mediterranean.

Murdock

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were also raised at the end of 1944 in metropolitan France for Pacific and Indochina 2 expeditionary Divisions, with 2 more independant brigades Overseas, one Division should be sent to the Pacific theater and the other in Indochina, for lack of transport and political reasons from the US policy they were not associated to the last operations

almost all the French Oceania was under Free France authority since 1940 (New Hebrides, Polynesia, New Caledonia, except Wallis & Futuna in 1942) the Army raised a Bataillon du Pacifique but served in Africa and Europe against Germans and Italians

Regards
Loïc

Sid Guttridge
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Re: Free French activities in the Pacific theater of World War 2?

Post by Sid Guttridge » 14 Sep 2021 17:51

Hi Loic,

What about the defection of the New Hebrides and New Caledonia to the Free French over June-September 1940? I believe the former was the first colony to do so.

What happened to the sloop Dumont d’Urville, which I think was in Noumea at the time?

There was also presumably a small army garrison.

Did they all go over to the Free French as well?

Cheers,

Sid

Glider42
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Re: Free French activities in the Pacific theater of World War 2?

Post by Glider42 » 15 Sep 2021 02:04

Hi Sid,

A book I have(*) states that French Indochina sided with the De Gaulle's Free French Forces on the exact same day that the New Hebrides did (20 July 1940). Well, the local French Governor did, but he was immediately relieved of his position.

Yes, the Dumont d'Urville aviso was in Noumea around the time New Caledonia joined De Gaulle. It arrived in Noumea on 23 August, and was promptly targeted by Free French protesters. So it sailed out of Noumea harbour, perhaps on 25 August, but remaining in the vicinity.

It returned to Noumea on 20 September, but the new governor (Sautot) demanded it left for Saigon on 25 September, under Australian surveillance. Which it did.

From my reading, it seems that most of the local army garrison stayed on in New Caledonia, and thus became part of FFL. Only a few officers and soldiers opted to remain with Vichy and shipped out on the Pierre Loti merchant ship on 11 October.

I hope this answers your questions.

Cheers,

Glider42

(*) Daly, H. 2002, Nouvelle-Caledonie, Porte-Avions Américain dans Les Mers du Sud, La Guerre du Pacifique, 1941-45, Noumea.

Sid Guttridge
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Re: Free French activities in the Pacific theater of World War 2?

Post by Sid Guttridge » 15 Sep 2021 05:18

Hi Glider42,

It largely does answer my question.

While Googling for the book (I couldn't find a reasonably affordable copy), I came across this site on New Caledonia in WWII: https://www.noumea.nc/sites/default/fil ... orrige.pdf

Many thanks,

Sid

Sid Guttridge
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Re: Free French activities in the Pacific theater of World War 2?

Post by Sid Guttridge » 15 Sep 2021 05:52

It seems that initially, before Japanese intervention in the war, the Free French prioritized sending Pacific forces to the European Theatre. In early 1941 they raised the Bataillon du Pacifique, initially consisting of 300 volunteers enlisted in Tahiti and 300 in New Caledonia. After training in Australia and Palestine, it then entered Libya, where it fought at Bir Hakeim. The battalion went on to finish the North African Campaign and then served in Italy, France and Germany. It lost 76 Tahitians killed and 80 dead from New Caledonia. If wounded are included, most of its original complement probably became casualties.

Cheers,

Sid.

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Loïc
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Re: Free French activities in the Pacific theater of World War 2?

Post by Loïc » 15 Sep 2021 17:17

Hello,

the first possessions to rally were, the Domaine de Sainte Hélène quite symbolic by the authority of his curator, then the New Hebrides given the particular intimate proximity with British for both, as New Hebrides were not a French colony but a French-British condominium

the French Pacific has always been undermilitarised until the US came in 1942 and the Cold War,
there were no more than the Navy, some gendarmes and as garrison only an Infantry Company of New Caledonia including its detachement of 20 to 70 men in Polynesia, each increasing to a Battalion and a detached company at the Mobilisation of 1939

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Re: Free French activities in the Pacific theater of World War 2?

Post by Sid Guttridge » 16 Sep 2021 13:00

Hi Loic,

Thanks.

Do you have the name of the company/battalion in the New Caledonia?

Many thanks,

Sid.

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Loïc
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Re: Free French activities in the Pacific theater of World War 2?

Post by Loïc » 16 Sep 2021 14:48

hello

simply as Bataillon d'Infanterie Coloniale de la Nouvelle Calédonie
and Captain Broche's Compagnie Autonome d'Infanterie Coloniale de Tahiti

Sid Guttridge
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Re: Free French activities in the Pacific theater of World War 2?

Post by Sid Guttridge » 16 Sep 2021 22:34

Hi Loic,

Thanks.

Sid

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