Theatre of War: the historical context of Andrzej Bobkowski’s Wartime Notebooks (Szkice piórkiem).

Notebooks May 1940 – June 1941



 "A Frenchman sheds tears of patriotic grief as flags of his country's lost regiments are exiled to Africa", according to the caption in the 3 March 1941 issue of Life magazine. Incorrectly captioned by NARA as "A Frenchman weeps as German soldiers march into the French capital, Paris, on June 14, 1940, after the Allied armies had been driven back across France."
"A Frenchman sheds tears of patriotic grief as flags of his country's lost regiments are exiled to Africa", according to the caption in the 3 March 1941 issue of Life magazine. Incorrectly captioned by NARA as "A Frenchman weeps as German soldiers march into the French capital, Paris, on June 14, 1940, after the Allied armies had been driven back across France." Source: National Archives and Records Administration. Local Identifier 208-PP-93(3)


By May 1940 Germany concquered much of continental Europe and its military offensive was still expanding. When it became inevitable that France will be defeated by the German forces, on May 10, 1940 Benito Mussolini, dictator of Fascist Italy, declared war on France and Britain (and their allies) in hope of taking over their territories in Africa and the Mediterranean.

On June 22, 1940 France with Marshal Petain as its Prime Minister capitulated and Vichy State became a Nazi ally. Meanwhile Italy was becoming the biggest naval force in the Mediterranean. United Kingdom, wishing to protect its African territories hoped to take over French naval forces under it command or at least prevent that it gets into German or Italian hands. When French naval forces declined, British bombed French naval base at Mers El Kebir in Algieria and sank its fleet killing 1297 French servicemen. Italian advances in Africa prompted counter-offensive of the Allies. Axis forces on one side and Allies forces on the other besieged Tobruk in one of the most important African campains of the WWII with Allies victory in November 1941.

In early July 1940 Germany attempted to invade Great Britain with Luftwaffe attacks on British harbours and shipments, but failed to defeat RAF forces. The air “Battle of Britain” ended in October 1941. In October 1940 Italy unsuccessfully attacked Greece, but eventually it capitulated in spring 1941 due to German Blitzkrieg of the Balkans.


Bożena Witowicz

47 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All