Double Victory: Minorities and Women During World War II
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Muselier, Émile Henri Désiré (1882–1965)

French navy admiral who created and commanded the Free French naval forces. Born at Marseille (Bouchres-du-Rh™ne) on 17 April 1882, Émile Muselier graduated from the French Naval Academy in 1902 and served in the Far East between 1903 and 1905. He then held ship assignments in the Mediterranean and attended the Gunnery School at Toulon before serving aboard cruisers in the Mediterranean. In 1911, he became a gunnery instructor at Toulon.

Muselier next served as the gunnery officer on the armored cruiser Edgar Quinet in the Mediterranean, where he took part in the first actions in the Adriatic during World War I. He commanded a battalion of marines ashore, distinguishing himself in fighting at Nieuport. He next commanded a battalion of naval artillery on the Western Front, before service with the government agency overseeing naval inventions. In April 1918, Muselier took command of the dispatch boat Scarpe. Promoted to lieutenant commander in July, he participated in operations first in the Atlantic and then in the Black Sea, aiding anti-Bolshevik forces during the Russian Civil War.

In 1920, Muselier joined the French delegation to the Allied Control Commission in Germany. Promoted to commander in July 1922, he served briefly in the military cabinet of the government, then commanded the torpedo boat Ouragan. He was promoted to captain in July 1926 and assumed command of the armored cruiser Ernest Renan in 1927. Following service ashore at Cherbourg, Muselier commanded the old semidreadnought Voltaire in 1930. He then served ashore at Toulon before taking command of the battleship Bretagne in September 1931. Promoted to rear admiral in July 1933, Muselier led the defenses at Cherbourg. After commanding the arsenal at Sidi-Abdallah and, in 1934, French navy units in Tunisia, Muselier had charge of the 2nd Cruiser Squadron during 1937 and 1938, with his flag in the Suffren. In September 1938, he headed the Marseille Defense Zone, and in October 1939, he joined the 2nd Section and was promoted to vice admiral.

Muselier rallied to General Charles de Gaulle in July 1940 and created the Free French Navy, of which he was named commander in chief that October. His principal assistant in London was Captain Thierry d'Argenlieu. Muselier's relations with head of the Free French, de Gaulle, were soon stormy. Muselier commanded Free French naval units in the December 1941 seizure of the Vichy-controlled islands of Saint-Pierre and Miquelon off Newfoundland.

Muselier collaborated with the British in an attempt to oust de Gaulle as head of the Free French, and in March 1942, he himself was replaced by Captain Philippe Auboyneau. In May, Muselier became inspector general of the Free French Navy, and in 1943, he transferred to Algiers and that June was named deputy commander in chief of French Maritime Forces. Suspended from his duties the following August, he next served as chief of the naval section of the French military commission dealing with German affairs.

Muselier retired in June 1946. He wrote two books, Marine et Résistance and De Gaulle contre le Gaullisme (1946), in which he discussed the history of Free French naval forces as well as infighting among the Free French and his differences with de Gaulle. Muselier died in Toulon on 2 September 1965.

Spencer C. Tucker


Further Reading
Anglin, Douglas G. Free French Invasion: The St. Pierre and Miquelon Affaire of 1941. Calgary, Canada: Penny Black, 1999.; Chaline, E., and P. Santarelli. Historique des Forces Navales Françaises Libres. Paris: Service Historique de la Marine, Marine Nationale, 1990.; Muselier, Émile H. D. Marine et resistance. Paris: Flamarion, 1945.; Muselier, Émile H. D. De Gaulle contre le gaullisme. Paris: Éditions du Chêne, 1946.; Muselier, Renard. L'amiral Muselier, 1882–1965: Le créateur de la Croix de Lorraine. Paris: Perrin, 2000.
 

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