740.0011 European War 1939/6166: Telegram

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

3482. Personal for the President from Former Naval Person:27

“We hear rumors from various sources that the Vichy Government are preparing their ships and colonial troops to aid the Germans against us. I do not myself believe these reports, but if the French Fleet at Toulon were turned over to Germany it would be a very heavy blow. It would certainly be a wise precaution, Mr. President, if you would speak in the strongest terms to the French Ambassador emphasizing the disapprobation with which the United States would view such a betrayal of the cause of democracy and freedom. They will pay great heed in Vichy to such a warning.

You will have seen what very heavy losses we have suffered in the northwestern approaches to our last two convoys. This is due to our shortage of destroyers in the gap period I mentioned to you. Thank God your 50 are now coming along, and some will soon be in action. We ought to be much better off by the end of the year, as we have a lot of our own anti-U-boat vessels completing, but naturally we are passing through an anxious and critical period with so little small craft having to guard against invasion in the narrow waters, with the very great naval effort we are making in the Mediterranean, and the immense amount of convoy work.”

  1. Code name for Winston Churchill.