The Secretary of State to the Ambassador in France ( Wallace )

No. 589

Sir: The Department has received your despatch No. 1295 of June 18, last transmitting a copy of a communication dated June 7 from the French Ministry for Foreign Affairs in which the status in regard to military liability of certain naturalized American citizens of French origin is defined. It is observed therefrom that persons who may be considered deserters under French law will be required to appear before the Court Martial upon their return to France and will be dealt with in the usual manner, and that persons who may be regarded as defaulters under the French military law will be dealt with according to certain stated distinctions. Classification No. 3 of the communication of the Ministry for Foreign Affairs reads in translation as follows:

“Those who have only acquired American nationality after their declaration as defaulters shall be treated as follows:

“If the default dates before the war, the law shall be rigorously applied, the principle of the allowance for services, the benefit of which has been recognized as granted to the said defaulters, applying to the period of service accomplished during the war, but not effacing the offense of default for which they will continue to have to answer on their return to France.

“If the declaration of default is subsequent to the beginning of hostilities, their names will be taken off the list of control of defaulters in case they enlisted in the American Army before they were called in France, but they will remain liable for the remainder of their regular period of service after application of the allowance for service. In all other cases, proceedings remain ‘possible.’”

In view of the communication from the French Government transmitted with your despatch No. 1261 of June 4 last, which restricted the deduction of service in the American Army of persons held to be liable under French law for military service in France to those persons only who served in the American Army on the French front, the [Page 946] Department desires you to obtain from the French Government an amplification and a more definite expression of its attitude toward the persons described in Section 3 quoted above. It would seem from the interpretation of the whole communication that the French Government proposes to allow the deduction from the regular period of service in the French Army of the entire period of service performed in the American Army and that such deduction will be allowed whether or not the person served on the French front.

It is also requested that you ascertain from the French Government its attitude toward persons who registered for military service in the United States and who were given deferred classification for reasons other than physical unfitness. As many American citizens of French origin meet with hardships through their ignorance of the attitude of the French Government toward them upon their return to France, you will please report promptly to the Department.

I am [etc.]

For the Secretary of State:
Alvey A. Adee