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A gigantic rare map of the World, published by Free French Forces (FFL, Forces françaises libres) led by Charles de Gaulle, was made during the Second World War just before the major battles for control of the French colonies worldwide.


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A gigantic map of the World was made by Service Géographique des Forces françaises libres (Geographical service of Free French Forces) in 1942. Marked are railroads, telegraph lines, steamboat lines and submarine communications cables. The key also lists fields for the colours of possessions of different countries, but the fields have been left blank.


Free French Forces (FFL, Forces françaises libres) were the government-in-exile led by Charles de Gaulle during the Second World War. Set up in London in June 1940 they continued to fight as one of the Allies after the fall of France. They organised and supported the Resistance in occupied France.


After the German invasion on France on May 10 1940 around 140,000 French troops were safely evacuated to England. Numerous soldiers from those troops, as well as soldiers French colonial empire joined or were draftet into the Free French Forces (Forces françaises libres) lead by Charles de Gaulle. In November 1940 a large number of French ships on the sea decided to join the Allies.


As a symbol they have chosen the  Cross of Lorraine to recall the perseverance of Joan of Arc, patron saint of France. The symbol is seen on the map twice in the upper margin.


With metropolitan France under German control and the Allies too weak to challenge this, de Gaulle turned his attention to France’s vast overseas empire. Reflecting the growing strength of Free France was the foundation of the French National Committee (Comité national français, CNF) in September 1941 and the official name change from France Libre to France combattante in July 1942. 


This map of the world was made by Geographical service of Free French Forces amid battles for French colonies worldwide. It was probably intended as a transportable wall map, used by military leaders. The production costs of this kind of lithographed map of such a large format had to be enormous, and the maps were probably made in a limited edition.


An old label on the back saying “H. Papazian. Cadeau de Noel 1942” (Christmas present 1942) suggest that the map belonged to an Armenian (Hrach Papazian 1892-1960?).


The map was never used, because according to the key in the lower part, the possessions of different countries should be marked on the map, but here they were left blank.


We could not trace any other example of this map on the market or in the institutions worldwide.


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