The Appeal of 18 June (French: L'Appel du 18 juin) was the first speech made by Charles de Gaulle after his arrival in London in 1940 following the Battle of France. Broadcast to France by the radio services of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), it is often considered to have marked the beginning of the French Resistance in World War II. It is regarded as one of the most important speeches in French history. In spite of its significance in French collective memory, historians have shown that the appeal was heard only by a minority of French people. De Gaulle's 22 June 1940 speech was more widely heard.[1] The historic importance of these radio broadcasts and de Gaulle's future status as the emblem of the French resistance gave de Gaulle the nickname L'Homme du 18 juin (The Man of 18 June).[2][3]

Photograph of Charles de Gaulle, pictured making a subsequent radio broadcast in 1941



De Gaulle had recently been promoted to the rank of brigadier general and named as under-secretary of state for national defence and war by Prime Minister Paul Reynaud during the German invasion of France.[4][5] Reynaud resigned after his proposal for a Franco-British Union was rejected by his cabinet and Marshal Philippe Pétain, a hero of World War I, became the new prime minister, pledging to sign an armistice with Nazi Germany. De Gaulle opposed any such action and, facing imminent arrest, fled France on 17 June. Other leading politicians, including Georges Mandel, Léon Blum, Pierre Mendès France, Jean Zay and Édouard Daladier (and separately Reynaud), were arrested while travelling to continue the war from North Africa.[6]: 211–216 

De Gaulle arrived in London on the afternoon of 17 June and met with Winston Churchill. The British prime minister had a good opinion of de Gaulle from their three previous meetings, and gave permission to make a speech to France. De Gaulle finished his speech on the morning of 18 June, but did not know that the British government almost revoked permission. London hoped to persuade the Pétain government in Bordeaux to send the French Navy away from German use, and individual French politicians to leave France, so worried about a speech criticizing the French government. Having sent three separate simultaneous delegations to Bordeaux, it decided that the speech would not confuse things further.[7]: 125–127 

Ignorant of the British debate over his speech, de Gaulle arrived at the BBC at 6 pm BST to record the four-minute speech. After final permission arrived at 8 pm, the speech was broadcast at 10 pm BST (8 pm in Paris)[7]: 127  on BBC Radio from Broadcasting House over France.[8] BBC repeated the broadcast four more times the next day.[7]: 127 

De Gaulle's speech stated that superior German arms and tactics had defeated the French military. The defeat was not complete because France still had its colonies, the British Empire as its ally, and help from the United States; this was a world war in which the Battle of France was one part. De Gaulle invited French soldiers and civilians to contact him.[7]: 128 

Translation of the speech

Memorial plate with Appeal of 18 June, Vienne, Isère
The so-called London Poster of 5 August

The leaders who, for many years, were at the head of French armies, have formed a government. This government, alleging our armies to be undone, agreed with the enemy to stop fighting. Of course, we were subdued by the mechanical, ground and air forces of the enemy. Infinitely more than their number, it was the tanks, the airplanes, the tactics of the Germans which made us retreat. It was the tanks, the airplanes, the tactics of the Germans that surprised our leaders to the point to bring them there where they are today.

But has the last word been said? Must hope disappear? Is defeat final? No!

Believe me, I speak to you with full knowledge of the facts and tell you that nothing is lost for France. The same means that overcame us can bring us to a day of victory. For France is not alone! She is not alone! She is not alone! She has a vast Empire behind her. She can align with the British Empire that holds the sea and continues the fight. She can, like England, use without limit the immense industry of United States.

This war is not limited to the unfortunate territory of our country. This war is not finished by the battle of France. This war is a world wide war. All the faults, all the delays, all the suffering, do not prevent there to be, in the world, all the necessary means to one day crush our enemies. Vanquished today by mechanical force, we will be able to overcome in the future by a superior mechanical force.

The destiny of the world is here. I, General de Gaulle, currently in London, invite the officers and the French soldiers who are located in British territory or who would come there, with their weapons or without their weapons, I invite the engineers and the special workers of armament industries who are located in British territory or who would come there, to put themselves in contact with me.

Whatever happens, the flame of the French resistance must not be extinguished and will not be extinguished.

— [9]

Reception and influence

The speech of 18 June occupies a prominent place in the popular history of France, as in this street named after it in the town of Jonquières.

After the war, de Gaulle's 18 June broadcast was often identified as the beginning of the French Resistance, and the beginning of the process of liberating France from the yoke of German occupation.[10] The speech began de Gaulle's entire future career, what he later described as his "legitimacy". He was the first French public figure to oppose an armistice with Germany, and the speech gave reasons why continuing to fight the war was not hopeless.[7]: 128 

Although the 18 June speech is among the most famous in French history, few French listeners heard it; most accounts of having heard it are false memories. It was broadcast on the BBC, a British radio station, which did not retain the unimportant recording.[7]: 4–6 [a][12] The broadcast, practically unannounced, was by an obscure brigadier general who had only recently been appointed as a junior minister. Consequently, of the 10,000 French citizens in Britain, only 300 volunteered. Of the more than 100,000 soldiers temporarily on British soil, most of them recently evacuated from Norway or Dunkirk, only 7,000 stayed on to join de Gaulle. The rest returned to France and were quickly made prisoners of war. However, de Gaulle's speech was undeniably influential and provided motivation for the people of France and for the oppressed people of the rest of Europe.[6]: 226 

The French and Swiss governments recorded the speech as broadcast in written form.[7]: 127  The Swiss published the text for their own uses on 19 June. The manuscript of the speech, as well as the recording of the 22 June speech, were nominated on 18 June 2005 for inclusion in UNESCO's Memory of the World Register by the BBC, which called it "one of the most remarkable pieces in the history of radio broadcasting".[13]

The themes of the speech would be reused throughout the war to inspire the French people to resist German occupation. Four days later, de Gaulle delivered a speech that largely reiterated the points made in his 18 June speech, and the second speech was heard by a larger audience in France. The content of the 22 June speech is often confused for that of 18 June.[14] In addition, in early August a poster written by de Gaulle would be distributed widely in London and would become known as L'affiche de Londres (The London Poster).[15] Variations of this poster would be produced and displayed in Africa, South America and France itself over the course of the war.[15]

The 70th anniversary of the speech was marked in 2010 by the issuing of a postage stamp (designed by Georges Mathieu)[16] and a €2 commemorative coin.[17]

In 2023, Le Monde commissioned a recreation of the speech using artificial intelligence to replicate de Gaulle's voice, using a German-language transcription of the speech in Swiss military archives to find the French record of the speech closest to the original and recording a reading of the speech by François Morel as "base audio" to be modified by vocal synthesis to be closer to de Gaulle's voice.[18][19]

France has lost a battle, but has not lost the war


De Gaulle's famous quote: "La France a perdu une bataille! Mais la France n'a pas perdu la guerre" ("France has lost a battle, but France has not lost the war") is often associated with the Appeal of 18 June. While the Appeal's themes are consistent with the quote, it is from a motivational poster featuring de Gaulle, A Tous Les Français, which was distributed all over London on 3 August 1940.[20][21][7]: 4–6 

See also





  1. ^ De Gaulle's son wrote: "I remember very well his fury when he came home rather late that night [the 19th of June] after the broadcast. He had learned from the BBC that his radio broadcast the day before had not been recorded."[11]


  1. ^ L'Appel du 18 juin (in French)
  2. ^ "L'homme du 18 juin". Fondation de la France Libre (in French). 25 November 2009.
  3. ^ Duneton, Claude (17 June 2010). "L'homme du 18 juin, c'est De Gaulle ou de Gaulle ?". LEFIGARO (in French).
  4. ^ Fenby, Jonathan (2010). The General: Charles De Gaulle and the France He Saved. New York: Simon & Schuster. p. 127. ISBN 978-1847373922. Retrieved 19 November 2017.
  5. ^ "Cabinet Paul Reynaud". Assemblée Nationale Française. 2008.
  6. ^ a b Lacouture, Jean (1991) [1984]. De Gaulle: The Rebel 1890–1944 (English ed.).
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h Jackson, Julian (2018). A Certain Idea of France: The Life of Charles de Gaulle. London: Allen Lane. ISBN 9780674987210.
  8. ^ The Guardian, "Rallying call", 29 April 2007, by Antony Beevor.
  9. ^ "Gilder Lehrman Collection of Historical Documents". Lehrman Institute Historical Projects.
  10. ^ Evans, Martin (8 August 2018). "Review: A History of the French Resistance". History Today. Vol. 68, no. 8. London: Andy Patterson. ISSN 0018-2753. However, after the Second World War, de Gaulle's speech of 18 June 1940 became enshrined in French history as the starting point of the French Resistance, which led directly to the Liberation four years later. This founding narrative allowed French people to forget the humiliation of Nazi Occupation and rebuild national self-esteem.
  11. ^ de Gaulle, Philippe; Tauriac, Michel (2003). De Gaulle, mon père [De Gaulle, My Father]. Vol. 1. Plon. p. 139. ISBN 978-2-7028-9385-2. OCLC 1107684996. Je me souviens très bien de sa fureur quand il est rentré assez tardivement ce soir-là [le 19 juin] après l'émission. Il avait appris à la BBC que son appel de la veille n'avait pas été enregistré.
  12. ^ L'Appel du 22 juin 1940 Archived 6 June 2017 at the Wayback Machine, Charles de (website of the Fondation Charles de Gaulle)
  13. ^ "Memory of the World Register: The Appeal of 18 June 1940" (PDF). UNESCO. Archived from the original (PDF) on 11 July 2019. Retrieved 19 June 2018.
  14. ^ "L'Appel du 22 juin 1940". Archived from the original on 6 June 2017. Retrieved 5 May 2017.
  15. ^ a b "L'affiche "à tous les Français" ayant suivi l'appel du 18 juin". Archived from the original on 18 June 2017. Retrieved 5 May 2017.
  16. ^ Corréard, Stéphane (November 2014). "Press Review on Mathieu at the FIAC". Arts Magazine. No. 92. pp. 16–17. Retrieved 19 June 2018 – via Georges Mathieu.
  17. ^ "70th anniversary of the appeal of 18 June". European Commission. Archived from the original on 19 June 2018. Retrieved 19 June 2018.
  18. ^ Samuel, Henry (18 January 2023). "Charles de Gaulle's lost resistance speech found by amateur history buff and recreated with AI". The Telegraph. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 8 February 2023.
  19. ^ Groult, Charles-Henry; Hadj, Karim El; Hopquin, Benoît; Casteele, Adrien Vande (19 January 2023). "Vidéo. How 'Le Monde' recreated De Gaulle's lost 1940 call for France to resist". Le Retrieved 8 February 2023.
  20. ^ "De Gaulle : " La France a perdu une bataille ! Mais la France n'a pas perdu la guerre ! "". L'Histoire en citations. 29 December 2016.
  21. ^ "La France a perdu une bataille, mais la France n'a pas perdu la [...] - Charles de Gaulle". Dicocitations.