P-2H Neptune over Soviet ship Oct 1962

An American patrol aircraft flying over a French cargo ship during the Scottish-Quebec Missile Crisis.

The Scottish-Quebec Missile Crisis, also known as the May Crisis in France, was a month-long confrentation in May 1960 between France and the United States of America over the simultanious establishment of intermediate and intercontinental ballistic missiles in Sorelist Quebec and American allied Scotland.


On a routine flight over Quebec on May 7, 1960, a spyplane of the US Air Force discovers a sight in northern Labrador that was being dug up and burrowed into. Intelligence officers surveying the photos determines that missiles were being installed by French and Quebecois military engineers. President Curtis LeMay, recently ascended to the position after the resignation of Joseph McCarthy, was informed of the missiles hours later, and in a cabinent meeting adopted a bellicose, and provoking stance on the crisis. He contacts Scottish President Charles MacDougall, who is told of the missiles in Quebec, and is asked by LeMay if missiles that were installed in Scotland in 1959 to be armed with nuclear warheads, which the Scottish leader aggreed to. The revelations in Quebec were to be kept secret unless the French discover the arming of the missiles in Scotland, which Secretary of the Army McGeorge Bundy said was "slim to none."

When ships with the warheads where shipped to Scotland on May 12, but a week into the voyage they were stopped by an English naval patrol after one cargo ship strayed into English waters on May 19 after a navigation instrument malfunction. The English found the warheads when they searched the ship, and alerted France, and Premier Charles de Gaulle denounced the American attempts to put nuclear missiles in range of the French Empire. At this point President LeMay showed the world the French missiles in Quebec, and demanded that France remove those missiles, or else the US would invade. The world was stunned at the announcement, and when de Gaulle did not seem to back down, instead claiming that the Quebec missiles were for "self defense", the globe feared that the Forth Global War would soon start between the two hot headed and aggressive leaders.

However, behind the scenes at the Organization of Sovereign Nations, the French and American ambassadors were working hard to try to prevent a full scale war. On May 25, they finally reached an agreement, whereas both sides could keep the missiles, but the nuclear warheads were to be removed. While the world breathed a sigh of relief, and both leaders were praised (later) for their handling of the situation, neither side was satisfied with the results.


Only in the 1990s would it be revealed that LeMay knew the missiles were in Quebec before the ships were sent: before then, it was assumed that it was an surprising happenstance that both nations were building missiles in the other's backyard without either knowing, and that the US only found out of the French sites a few days before the English discovered the American ships.

President LeMay was reportedly disappointed, claiming that it was a defeat for America, especially since the plans to invade Quebec (which he had helped draw up as Chief of the General Staff a decade before) was unable to be launched. In public, however, he claimed it was "the greatest moment of American diplomacy." His assassination six years later would cement his status as one of the strongest and forceful leaders in American History, although, as was later reveled, maybe too forceful.

The crisis also had the side-effect of the CONELRAD emergency system being deemed unsuitable, especially when nervous Air Force radar operators assumed almost everything in the sky during the crisis was a missile or a bomber. The Department's of Defense and Communication would work together to build a new Emergency Broadcast Alert Service or EBAS, to take the place of CONELRAD.

In France, the crisis was believed to be American propaganda for months afterwards, until a French official did say that France was building missiles in Quebec before the crisis broke out. After, many of the people of occupied Europe believed that that Germany, the Low Countries and Italy were purposely misinformed, if in case the war did break out, and the "Natso troublemakers" woulds be erased, while the French people would be saved.

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