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Vice Admiral Emile Muselier, 1941

Presentation photograph Vice Admiral Emile Muselier, commander of the Free French Naval Forces during the Second World War, with inscribed on the lower right of the image ‘Au Commmander A.D. Lacy / 8 Avril 1942’ and signed in ink to the lower border ‘C. de Gaulle’. Contained in period white metal Army and Navy Stores easel backed frame.

Commander Alexander Dacre Lacy entered the Royal Navy in 1911. During the Second World War he served in the Naval Intelligence Division of the Admiralty and was on staff of General Spears for liaison duties with Free French Forces. He later served with the Admiralty Delegation in Washington, D.C.

Émile Henry Muselier (1882-1965) was the first to adopt the Cross of Lorraine to distinguish Free French Forces. However in June 1940 de Gaulle made libelous charges against him causing the British authorities to view him as a possible traitor. When these suspicions were found to depend on false documents, the British Government apologised. At more or less the same time the Vichy government sentenced him to death in absentia and confiscated all of his possessions. Meanwhile de Gaulle appointed Muselier commander of the Free French naval forces and, provisionally, commander of the air force. In December 1941 Muselier led de Gaulle’s conquest of Saint-Pierre and Miquelon off Newfoundland after learning of Canadian and British desires for the archipelago. The islands had declared for Vichy but in referendum the held the day after Muselier’s landing the population endorsed the Free French takeover. This by turns angered the British, the Canadians and Roosevelt and deepened misgivings towards De Gaulle.

© The Armoury of St James's 17 Piccadilly Arcade London SW1Y 6NH