740.0011 European War 1939/6171: Telegram

The Chargé in France (Matthews) to the Secretary of State

783. My telegram 762, October 17, 5 p.m.28 An official of the Foreign Office who was in England in a military capacity during the war and who is pro-British in sentiment asked to see me this morning. He said that the political sections at the Foreign Office are quite impressed by the fact that the British have not “reacted” more strongly in the face of recent heavy German bombardments. They feel that British air resistance is growing rapidly weaker. He said that the persons concerned are likewise convinced that the British will soon suffer serious defeat in Egypt. An atmosphere of great depression exists in the Foreign Office and he only hopes that the British can give some tangible and convincing evidence to counteract it.

He went on to say that this “pessimism” as to British chances might have an important influence on the future attitude of the French Government. He mentioned, for instance, the German demand for utilization [Page 394] of a highway from Paris to Marseille, adding that he presumed “they want the highway for troop movements.” He fears that the Marshal who is “somewhat tired” may finally be brought to accept that condition as well as some control of present free frontiers. Any convincing demonstration of British strength at this immediate juncture might therefore weigh materially in the balance of future French policy.

Baudouin’s strongly anglophobe Chef de Cabinet Guérard has resigned for personal reasons and has been replaced by Boisonger whose views and policies are at least somewhat less anti-British than his predecessor.

  1. Not printed.