740.00116 European War 1939/4: Telegram

The Ambassador in Frame (Bullitt) to the Secretary of State

1711. I received at 6:15 this evening from the French Foreign Office the following reply to the President’s message with regard to bombardment from the air of civilian populations:

“Mr. Ambassador: You kindly handed me this morning an urgent message from the President of the United States of America.

I have the honor to address to you herewith the reply of the French Government.

The French Government hastens to reply to the appeal, which the President of the United States of America addresses to all Governments which may find themselves engaged in the conflict, to ask them to avoid all recourse, in every case and in every circumstance, to bombardment from the air of civilian populations.

The French Government highly appreciating the spirit which inspires the initiative of President Franklin D. Roosevelt affirms its firm intention to conduct hostilities, if war should be imposed upon it as a result of the German aggression, in strict accord with the laws of war; and to do everything in its power to spare civilian populations the sufferings which modern war may entail. It is in this spirit of humanity, which has always dictated in all circumstances the conduct of the French Government, that orders have already been given to the Commander in Chief of all the French forces.

These orders exclude in particular the bombardment of civilian populations, and limit bombardment from the air to strictly military objectives.

It goes without saying that the French Government reserves the right to have recourse to any action which it might consider appropriate, if the adversary should not observe the restrictions to which the French Government itself has subjected the operations of its air forces.”