May 16, 2012
Captured MS.406 fighters of GC I/7,
in July 1941.
On 13 May 1941, the fears of de Gaulle and Spears
were realised when German aircraft landed in Syria in support of
the Iraqi rebel Rashid Ali, who was opposed to the pro-British
government. On 8 June, 30,000 troops (Indian Army, British,
Australian, Free French and the Trans-Jordanian Frontier Force)
invaded Lebanon and Syria in what was known as Operation Exporter.
There was stiff resistance from the Vichy French and Spears
commented bitterly on ‘that strange class of Frenchmen who had
developed a vigour in defeat which had not been apparent when they
were defending their country’
In 1941 Beirut added war between Vichy France and Britain to its
stock of conflicts. The fall of France in June 1940 had shattered
Lebanese Christians, many of whom had based their lives on French
power and culture. Many Arabs, however ...