CHURCHILL, Winston S. Typed letter signed (''Winston S. Churchill''), as First Lord of the Admiralty, to Cesar Campinchi, London, 24 November 1939. 2 pages, 4to, Admiralty stationery, slight staining on first page.
CHURCHILL, Winston S. Typed letter signed ("Winston S. Churchill"), as First Lord of the Admiralty, to Cesar Campinchi, London, 24 November 1939. 2 pages, 4to, Admiralty stationery, slight staining on first page.
CHURCHILL CULTIVATES ADMIRAL DARLAN AND CAMPINCHI IN THE EARLY DAYS OF THE WAR
An interesting early war date letter as Churchill plans a London meeting with French Admiral Jean Darlan and Cesar Campinchi, Minsiter of Marine in Paul Reynaud's cabinet, on how best to coordinate their efforts to meet the Nazi threat. "I am writing to offer you an invitation to pay the visit to London which we discussed when I had the pleasure of meeting you in Paris recently. I have written to Admiral Darlan to offer him a similar invitation and to come over at the same time as yourself..." He hopes Campinchi will meet with "my colleagues on the Board of Admiralty and other members of the Government." Churchill traveled to Paris on 2 November and 4 November 1939, and dined privately with Campinchi at the Ritz on 2 November. He saw a kindred spirit. "His patriotism, his ardour, his acute intelligence, and above all his resolve to conquer or die, hit home" (Gathering Storm, 392). Darlan, on the other hand, seemed to have his own agenda. Even at this early stage of the war Churchill worried over the fate of the French fleet, and hoped to coordinate its efforts with the British Navy.
After the French capitulation, Campinchi fled to Rabat with Georges Mandel, in the hopes of setting up a Free French government in exile. But they were detained by pro-Vichy forces. Darlan, of course, supported Petain's collaborationist regime, and received Campinchi's job as reward. He sent the French fleet to North Africa where Churchill felt he had no choice but to attack it at Mers el-Kabir in July 1940, in order to keep it from falling into Nazi hands. Campinchi died in early 1941, broken in health and "under the scowl of Vichy," Churchill wrote; "his last words were of hope in me. I shall always deem them an honour" (Gathering Storm, 393). Darlan was assassinated in December 1942, possibly at the direction of British intelligence.