1941 : Anthony Eden to Viscount Halifax

No: 7243
Dec. 25, 1941

Addressed to Washington telegram No. 7243 of December 25th, repeated to Ottawa No. 2256.

My telegram No. 7008.

Admiralty received a telegram from Admiral Muselier dated December 24th in which he stated that « in compliance with the order quite recently received from General de Gaulle and the request of the inhabitants » he had proceeded on the morning of December 24th to St. Pierre and rallied the people to Free France and the Allied Cause with an enthusiastic reception.

2. This was a complete surprise to us since General de Gaulle had authorized an assurance to be given to us on December 17th that no orders for the operation had been issued and that it would not be carried out by the Free French Naval forces. You were informed accordingly in my telegram under reference.

3. Free French Copmissioner for Foreign Affairs was at once summoned to the Foreign Office and asked for an explanation. He admitted General de Gaulle had in fact given orders for the operation to be effected. His reason for doing so had been that when he gave the assurance mentioned in the second paragraph above he did not know the Canadian Government intended with the approval of the United States Government to send certain personnel to St. Pierre in order to secure control of the wireless station by peaceful means and if this failed by force. On learning this General de Gaulie had addressed a letter to the Foreign Secretary in which he protested against such a decision being taken without consultation with him and had declared the National Committee would lose its reasons for Existence if it agreed to forceful action being taken by the Allied forces on French Territory. General de Gaulle had asked that his views should be brought to the notice of the Canadian Government. ‘l’his was done by telegram on December 24th. Free French Delegation in the United States had been already instructed to inform the State Department.A summary of this letter went to you in my telegram to. 7216.

4. It was pointed out to Mons. De jean that General de Gaulie in his letter had not withdrawn his to try their luck with the Islands, but that

(B) they held up the operation while the United States Government were being consulted, and that on receipt of’ information about the President’s feeling they secured de Gaulle’s agreement that the operation should not now be undertaken; and that finally

(D) Muselier has gone off on his own with or without de Gaulle’s knowledge and assent.

7. An alternative plan to ensure control of the wireless station at St. Pierre has been under discussion between the Canadian and the United States Governments for some weeks. On December 18th Mr. Welles said that he hoped the Canadian Government vvouid give immediate effect to this plan, which involved the use/force if the Administrator of the islands did not agree to Canadian supervision of the station.

Our Chiefs of staff in Lonion commented on this as set out in paragraph 4 above.

8. Since dictating the above I have just seen F.U. telegram 7243 (Flag « A »), which tells the complete story, and seems to place the blame very squarely on de Gaulle, who I see has issued a congratulatory telegram in London

Grand Colombier

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