1941 : US President to UK Prime Minister


1. On December 16th we had a telegram from the Foreign Office in which, after setting out the prospects of successful action in the islands, they say: « We are therefore informing the Free French Headquarters that we see no objection to their undertaking this operation. »

In the same telegram they asked me to be sure that this action did not embarrass the United States Government and to give time for this said that they were asking de Gaulle to postpone the issue of orders for 36 hours.

2. The matter was put to the State Department the same day who referred it to the President, who said that he was strongly opposed to the suggested action.

3. On the 17th December, the Foreign Office telegraphed to say that the President’s view had been reported to de Gaulle who agreed that the proposed action should not now be undertaken.

4. A telegram from the Foreign Office on December 19th said that in the view of the Chiefs of Staff nothing short of the
occupation of the islands « would be satisfactory from Military point of view. This course however now seems to be ruled out by United States attitude. »

5. We received this morning a message despatched from the Admiralty to the British Admiralty Delegation, Washington, as follows–

« Following has been received from Admiral Muselier. BEGINS:

« I have the honour to inform you that in compliance with order quite recently received from General de Gaulle and request of inhabitants I have proceeded this morning to Island Saint Pierre and rallied people to Free France and Allied cause with enthusiastic reception. ENDS.

2. Please inform his Majesty’s Ambassador urgently. This action has come as a complete surprise to us. »

6. From this it appears quite clear: (a) that the Foreign Office knew and approved the general authority given to the Free French headquartersto 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 London 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 to Admiral Muselier and announced that a plebiscite is being held today.

9- I attach a note (Flag « b ») giving all the information in possession of the F.O. on the agreement between the United States Government and Admiral Robert. 10. I am seeing Hull at six o’clock, and will let you know if anything of importance emerges. As our information was complete on both points you raised I lid not think it necessary to telephone to the F.O.

25th December, 1941

Grand Colombier

Le GrandColombier.com est un site recensant tout document historique ayant un lien avec les îles Saint-Pierre-et-Miquelon : traités, cartographie, toponymie, archives, sources primaires, études, recherches, éphémérides. Le site est dirigé par Marc A. Cormier.

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