740.0011 European War, 1939/9: Telegram

The Ambassador in the United Kingdom (Kennedy) to the Secretary of State

1349. The Cabinet has approved draft of a note which will be delivered to Germany this afternoon to the following effect: His Majesty’s Government has received information that Germany has attacked Poland and unless it receives assurance from the German Government that hostile action against Poland has ceased, the obligations of Great Britain will come immediately into play.

The actual text of this note is being prepared in consultation with the French and I will cable you as soon as I receive word that it has been sent to Henderson.12 Following delivery of this note, a second note is contemplated in which the ultimatum of a time limit will be laid down. The actual timing for this note has not been decided.

According to the Foreign Office Daladier has advised the British Government that it will be impossible for the French Chamber to be convoked until 3 o’clock tomorrow afternoon and that France cannot make a declaration of war until the Chamber meets. At the present moment, therefore, it appears unlikely that Great Britain will be able to make a declaration of war until tomorrow. They are anxious here closely to parallel French action, both in timing and form, and are desirous of avoiding giving any impression that Great Britain is dragging France into war. They wish rather to impress on the French public and on public opinion generally that Great Britain is backing her ally France and that the issue is not solely a question of British obligations to Poland.

Parliament is called for 6 this evening and statements will be made both by the Prime Minister13 and by the Foreign Secretary14 in the House of Lords.

  1. Sir Nevile Henderson, British Ambassador in Germany.
  2. Neville Chamberlain.
  3. Viscount Halifax.