‘Our Mutual Headache’: Churchill, Roosevelt and de Gaulle

Part of the St Antony’s Series book series


Perhaps the most fascinating topic for a student of Anglo-American policy towards the French during World War II is that of the role of personal relations between Churchill, Roosevelt and de Gaulle. It is well-known that de Gaulle deeply distrusted the ‘Anglo-Saxons’, as the French prefer to call the Anglo-Americans. It is equally well-known that Roosevelt intensely disliked de Gaulle, although he was not incapable of charming him if American policy dictated such a course.1 The attitude of Churchill is less clear, seeming to be a mixture of admiration and detestation. Henry Wallace, the American vice-president, described Churchill’s freely expressed views on de Gaulle: ‘Churchill spoke very contemptuously of the vanity, pettiness, and discourtesy of de Gaulle, saying he had raised him from a pup but that he still barked a bit.’2 There is no doubt, though, that he respected and even felt a sense of gratitude for de Gaulle’s stand in 1940. One thing is certain, that while a large number of pages has been devoted to the personal relationships of these men, few of these studies have seriously studied the body of archival material on the subject. In this chapter, we will try to use this information to establish the truth — as much as possible — about Churchill’s and Roosevelt’s feelings about de Gaulle and then to consider to what extent this influenced Anglo-American policy.


French Government American Policy National Liberation Military Occupation French People 
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  1. 5.
    Churchill, Their Finest Hour (London, 1949) 182.Google Scholar
  2. 12.
    Entry, 26 May 1943, John Harvey (ed.) War Diaries of Oliver Harvey 1941–45 (London, 1978) 262.Google Scholar
  3. 20.
    See Warren Kimball, The Juggler (Princeton, 1991).Google Scholar
  4. See also Mario Rossi, Roosevelt and the French (Westport, CT., 1993).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© G. E. Maguire 1995

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of Paris XII — Val de MarneFrance

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