Darlan, Jean François [key], 1881–1942, French admiral. A career naval officer, he became commander of the French navy in 1939 and joined the Vichy government (see under Vichy) in 1940 as minister of the navy. After the fall of Pierre Laval, Darlan was made (Feb., 1941) vice premier, foreign minister, and successor-designate to Marshal Pétain; he was the actual head of government. Laval returned to power in Apr., 1942; Darlan lost his cabinet posts but was given command of the French armed forces. In Algiers during the Allied landing (Nov. 7, 1942) in North Africa, Darlan ordered the cessation of French resistance to the Allies. Although publicly repudiated by Pétain, he assumed control over French N and W Africa in the marshal's name and brought them to the side of the Allies. He was assassinated in December. He was succeeded as high commissioner by Gen. H. H. Giraud.
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