Pipped me to the post. I was an observer in London at the time from an excellent view point.05 May 1980 Operation Nimrod The S A S storm the Iranian Embassy.
Rapace,Just a few historical facts in an otherwise pretty confused debate (like often on this sensitive subject)...
• The putsch in Algiers took place in April 61. It’s not concurrent with the Évian peace talks that took place in 62, with an agreement on a ceasefire reached on March 19, 1962.
• Except of course for a majority of the ~ 1.5 million people-strong European community in Algeria, the putsch had very little support in the public opinion. Actually, most of the French have had enough of this war and just wanted the end of it.
• Even in the Army, the support was limited and that’s why the putsch collapsed after 3 days, when the “four generals” (“le quarteron de généraux en retraite” in De Gaulle's words) realised that and decided to call it off.
• Among the activists you had a mix bag of truly idealistic officers (like acting CO of 1er REP, Major Hélie de Saint-Marc) persuaded that their duty was to protect the European community and keep Algeria under French control for the sake of the country’s grandeur and some far-right civilian political activists (the most famous being Jean-Jacques Susini).
• The failed putsch gave birth to the clandestine terrorist movement called OAS (Organisation Armée Secrète) led by Salan, before he was arrested, where a number of former members of the 1er REP “illustrated” (so to speak) themselves. The OAS started a terror campaign in Algiers and other big cities, like Oran and Constantine in 61-62 (like the FLN had done in 56-57) and organised several bombings on the metropolitan French territory. The OAS tried several times to assassinate De Gaulle.
• This affair, from the start and then over the years, has given birth to a number of “urban legends”, the most often repeated being that some airborne units were going to jump on Paris or be airlifted. In some people’s dreams, maybe... The story came from an erroneous information received in Paris and mentioned in a speech given on TV by De Gaulle's PM Michel Debré without cross-checking it.