When Australia Fought France, WW2 – Video

Operation Exporter was a little known, but very important campaign for the Australian military. It involved Australian’s fighting a strange war against confused Frenchmen who were not supposed to be our enemy. France had been defeated and subjugated by the Germans. The new French government, installed at Vichy, was answerable to the Führer. With France vanquished, the fate of their territories in Syria and Lebanon became uncertain.

With Rommel in the Western Desert and Germans fostering an uprising in Iraq, the British feared Germany might take control over of Syria and Lebanon. From there, the Nazis could supply the rebels in Iraq and threaten Egypt from two sides. Churchill—urged on by Charles de Gaulle, whose Free French movement had received British sponsorship—ordered General Wavell to go on the offensive and take the French territories. The British sent in the Australian 7th Division to seize it, not expecting that the French Army of the Levant would put up a fight.

This video was created by Stewart Mortimer, creator of the fantastic Premier History video channel. It was commissioned by History Guild as part of our project examining Australian’s who served in the Mediterranean theatre of WW2.

When Australia Fought France, WW2 – Video

This project commemorating the service by Victorians in the Mediterranean theatre of WW2 was supported by the Victorian Government and the Victorian Veterans Council. Sign up to the newsletter at the bottom of the page to be notified when the next article in this project is released.

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The text of this article was commissioned by History Guild as part of our work to improve historical literacy. If you would like to reproduce it please get in touch via this form.

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