Churchill’s Deadly Decision: Destroy the French Fleet


July 3, 1940. After only 54 days into office, British Prime Minister Winston Churchill ordered his Navy to take control of French ships, or destroy them if the French refused to relinquish control. What led to this unprecedented and controversial attack was a dramatic series of events that saw France being overrun by the Nazis in a matter of weeks, Roosevelt fearing that Britain would fall just as quickly, and Churchill needing a way to prove otherwise.

“This is one of the long-forgotten stories of World War II, and one that was ultimately integral to America’s involvement into the war,” says Jared Lipworth, executive producer of Secrets of the Dead. “It solidified the relationship between Churchill and Roosevelt, but was also a classic example of the difficult—and deadly—moral decisions that leaders often have to make during wartime.”


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