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|Part of World War II|
Panzertruppen watching a burning French warship
|Commanded by||General Johannes Blaskowitz|
|Objective||Military occupation of Vichy France|
|Date||10–27 November 1942|
Operation Anton (German: Fall Anton) was the military occupation of Vichy France carried out by Germany and Italy in November 1942. It marked the end of the Vichy regime as a nominally-independent state and the disbandment of its army (the severely-limited Armistice Army), but it continued its existence as a puppet government in Occupied France. One of the last actions of its armed forces before their dissolution was the scuttling of the French fleet in Toulon to prevent it from falling into Axis hands.
Vichy France is the common name of the French State headed by Marshal Philippe Pétain during World War II. Evacuated from Paris to Vichy in the unoccupied "Free Zone" in the southern part of metropolitan France which included French Algeria, it remained responsible for the civil administration of France as well as the French colonial empire.
Nazi Germany is the common English name for Germany between 1933 and 1945, when Adolf Hitler and his Nazi Party (NSDAP) controlled the country through a dictatorship. Under Hitler's rule, Germany was transformed into a totalitarian state that controlled nearly all aspects of life via the Gleichschaltung legal process. The official name of the state was Deutsches Reich until 1943 and Großdeutsches Reich from 1943 to 1945. Nazi Germany is also known as the Third Reich, meaning "Third Realm" or "Third Empire", the first two being the Holy Roman Empire (800–1806) and the German Empire (1871–1918). The Nazi regime ended after the Allies defeated Germany in May 1945, ending World War II in Europe.
The Kingdom of Italy was a state which existed from 1861—when King Victor Emmanuel II of Sardinia was proclaimed King of Italy—until 1946—when a constitutional referendum led civil discontent to abandon the monarchy and form the modern Italian Republic. The state was founded as a result of the unification of Italy under the influence of the Kingdom of Sardinia, which can be considered its legal predecessor state.
A German plan to occupy Vichy France had been drawn up in December 1940 under the codename of Operation Attila and soon came to be considered as an operation with Operation Camellia, the plan to occupy Corsica.Operation Anton updated the original Operation Attila, including different German units and adding Italian involvement.
Corsica is an island in the Mediterranean Sea and one of the 18 regions of France. It is located southeast of the French mainland and west of the Italian Peninsula, with the nearest land mass being the Italian island of Sardinia to the immediate south. A single chain of mountains makes up two-thirds of the island.
The Royal Italian Army was the army of the Kingdom of Italy from the unification of Italy in 1861 to the birth of the Italian Republic in 1946. In World War II the Royal Army fought first as part of the Axis (1939–43) and then as a co-belligerent of the Allies (1943–45). After the monarchy ended, the army changed its name to become the Italian Army.
For Adolf Hitler, the main rationale for permitting a nominally independent French state to exist was that it was, in the absence of naval superiority, the only practical means to deny the use of the French colonies to the Allies. Following the Allied landings in French North Africa on 8 November 1942 (Operation Torch) and the lack of determined French resistance to the Allied landings, that rationale disappeared. Moreover, Hitler could not risk an exposed flank on the French Mediterranean. Following a final conversation with French Premier Pierre Laval, Hitler gave orders for Corsica to be occupied on 11 November, and Vichy France the following day.
The Allies of World War II, called the United Nations from the 1 January 1942 declaration, were the countries that together opposed the Axis powers during the Second World War (1939–1945). The Allies promoted the alliance as a means to control German, Japanese and Italian aggression.
Operation Torch was an Anglo–American invasion of French North Africa during the Second World War. It was aimed at reducing pressure on Allied forces in Egypt, and enabling an invasion of Southern Europe. It also provided the ‘second front’ which the Soviet Union had been requesting since it was invaded by the Germans in 1941. The region was dominated by the Vichy French, officially Nazi-controlled, but with mixed loyalties, and reports indicated that they might support the Allied initiative. The American General Dwight D. Eisenhower, commanding the operation, planned a 3-pronged attack, aimed at Casablanca (Western), Oran (Center) and Algiers (Eastern), in advance of a rapid move on Tunis.
Pierre Jean-Marie Laval was a French politician. During the time of the Third Republic, he served as Prime Minister of France from 27 January 1931 to 20 February 1932, and a second time from 7 June 1935 to 24 January 1936.
By the evening of 10 November 1942, Axis forces had completed their preparations for Case Anton. The 1st Army advanced from the Atlantic coast, parallel to the Spanish border, while the 7th Army advanced from central France towards Vichy and Toulon, under the command of General Johannes Blaskowitz. The Italian 4th Army occupied the French Riviera and an Italian division landed on Corsica. By the evening of 11 November, German tanks had reached the Mediterranean coast.
The Axis powers, also known as "Rome–Berlin–Tokyo Axis", were the nations that fought in World War II against the Allies. The Axis powers agreed on their opposition to the Allies, but did not completely coordinate their activity.
The 1st Army was a World War II field army.
The 7th Army was a World War II field army of the German land forces.
The Germans had planned Operation Lila to capture intact the demobilised French fleet at Toulon. French naval commanders managed to delay the Germans by negotiation and subterfuge long enough to scuttle their ships on 27 November, before the Germans could seize them, preventing three battleships, seven cruisers, 28 destroyers and 20 submarines from falling into the hands of the Axis powers. While the German Naval War Staff were disappointed, Adolf Hitler considered that the elimination of the French fleet sealed the success of Operation Anton.The destruction of the fleet also denied it to Charles de Gaulle and the Free French Navy.
The French Navy, informally "La Royale", is the maritime arm of the French Armed Forces. Dating back to 1624, the French Navy is one of the world's oldest naval forces. It has participated in conflicts around the globe and played a key part in establishing the French colonial empire.
A battleship is a large armored warship with a main battery consisting of large caliber guns. During the late 19th and early 20th centuries the battleship was the most powerful type of warship, and a fleet of battleships was considered vital for any nation that desired to maintain command of the sea.
A cruiser is a type of warship. Modern cruisers are generally the largest ships in a fleet after aircraft carriers and amphibious assault ships, and can usually perform several roles.
Vichy France limited its resistance to radio broadcasts objecting to the violation of the armistice of 1940. The German government countered that it was the French who violated the armistice first by not offering determined resistance to the Allied landings in North Africa. The 50,000-strong Vichy French Army took defensive positions around Toulon, but when confronted by German demands to disband, it did so, lacking the military capability to resist the Axis forces.
Free France and its Free French Forces were the government-in-exile led by Charles de Gaulle during the Second World War and its military forces, that continued to fight against the Axis powers as one of the Allies after the fall of France. Set up in London in June 1940, it organised and supported the Resistance in occupied France.
Force H was a British naval formation during the Second World War. It was formed in 1940, to replace French naval power in the western Mediterranean removed by the French armistice with Nazi Germany. The force occupied an odd place within the naval chain of command. Normal British practice was to have naval stations and fleets around the world, whose commanders reported to the First Sea Lord via a flag officer. Force H was based at Gibraltar but there was already a flag officer at the base, Flag Officer Commanding, North Atlantic. The commanding officer of Force H did not report to the Flag Officer but direct to the First Sea Lord, Admiral of the Fleet Sir Dudley Pound.
The North African Campaign of the Second World War took place in North Africa from 10 June 1940 to 13 May 1943. It included campaigns fought in the Libyan and Egyptian deserts and in Morocco and Algeria, as well as Tunisia.
The Battle of the Mediterranean was the name given to the naval campaign fought in the Mediterranean Sea during World War II, from 10 June 1940 to 2 May 1945.
The Mediterranean and Middle East Theatre was a major theatre of operations during the Second World War. The vast size of the Mediterranean and Middle East theatre saw interconnected naval, land, and air campaigns fought for control of the Mediterranean, North Africa, the Horn of Africa, the Middle East and Southern Europe. The fighting in this theatre lasted from 10 June 1940, when Italy entered the war on the side of Nazi Germany, until 2 May 1945 when all Axis forces in Italy surrendered. However, fighting would continue in Greece – where British troops had been dispatched to aid the Greek government – during the early stages of the Greek Civil War.
During World War II, Operation Attila was a plan for the German occupation of Vichy France. This plan was drawn up in 1940 in case the French rejoined the Allies or in case of an Allied threat to the south of France.
Algérie was a French heavy cruiser that served during the early years of World War II. She was built in response to the Italian Zara-class cruisers incorporating better armour than previous French cruisers. One of the last of the so-called "Treaty Cruisers," she was considered one of the best designs commissioned by any of the naval powers.
La Galissonnière was the name-ship of a class of French light cruisers, named in honour of Roland-Michel Barrin de La Galissonière. During World War II, she served with Vichy France.
Gloire was a French light cruiser of the La Galissonnière class.
The Military Administration in France was an interim occupation authority established by Nazi Germany during World War II to administer the occupied zone in areas of northern and western France. This so-called zone occupée was renamed zone nord in November 1942, when the previously unoccupied zone in the south known as zone libre was also occupied and renamed zone sud.
The scuttling of the French fleet at Toulon was a deliberate act orchestrated by Vichy France on 27 November 1942 to avoid the fleet's capture by Nazi German forces. The Allied invasion of North Africa had provoked the Germans into invading the zone libre, officially neutral according to the Armistice of 22 June 1940. Vichy Secretary of the Navy, Admiral François Darlan, defected to join Charles de Gaulle and the Free French, who were gaining increasing support from both servicemen and civilians. His replacement, Admiral Gabriel Auphan, guessed correctly that the Germans were aiming to seize the large fleet at Toulon, and issued orders for scuttling these vessels.
Jean de Laborde was a French naval officer who had a long and illustrious career starting at the end of the 19th century and extending to World War II where he served as admiral. A pioneer of naval aviation in France, he captained the first French aircraft carrier, earned many awards, and held many top posts. He is most well known for his final military act, the scuttling of the French fleet in Toulon during the German occupation of Vichy France in World War II, which left his prestige in ruins and led to his arrest and conviction for treason.
Italian-occupied France was an area of south-eastern France occupied by Fascist Italy in two stages during World War II. The occupation lasted from June 1940 until the Armistice between Italy and Allied armed forces on September 8, 1943, when Italian troops on French soil retreated under pressure from the Germans.
The French State, known as Vichy France, proclaimed by Marshal Philippe Pétain after the Fall of France in 1940 before Nazi Germany, was quickly recognized by the Allies, as well as by the Soviet Union, until 30 June 1941 and Operation Barbarossa. However France broke with the United Kingdom after the destruction of the French Fleet at Mers-el-Kebir. Canada maintained diplomatic relations until the occupation of Southern France by Germany and Italy in November 1942.
Events from the year 1942 in France.
The zone libre was a partition of the French metropolitan territory during World War II, established at the Second Armistice at Compiègne on 22 June 1940. It lay to the south of the demarcation line and was administered by the French government of Marshal Philippe Pétain based in Vichy, in a relatively unrestricted fashion. To the north lay the zone occupée in which the powers of Vichy France were severely limited.
Italian-occupied Corsica refers to the military occupation by the Kingdom of Italy of the island of Corsica during World War II. It lasted from November 1942 to September 1943.
The French Demarcation line was the boundary line marking the division of Metropolitan France into the territory occupied and administered by the German Army in the northern and western part of France and the Zone libre in the south during World War II. It was created by the Armistice of 22 June 1940 after the fall of France in May 1940.
The following are articles about the topic of France during World War II: