848L.00/28: Telegram

The Consul at Lagos (Jester) to the Secretary of State

Following from the Governor of Nigeria. While en route recently from Brazzaville to Dakar to assume position of High Commissioner for all colonies in Western Africa Boisson gave a clear indication of intention to avoid antagonizing the British as well as those of his own people who favor opposition to Pétain Government but at the same time rendering lip service to the latter Government and carrying out its official instructions. Together with General Husson now Governor General of French Equatorial Africa and commander of the armed forces therein he believes that the British will win and has objective of keeping French colonies intact. While ordering Governor Eboue (a Martinique colored man friendly to the British and rated high in ability) of Chad territories to sever direct relations by means of liaison officials with Nigeria and to deal henceforth through Husson his instructions to the former were to maintain the best relations possible with the British colonies but to sign nothing and enter into no engagements. He approved Eboue’s action in permitting British airways use of field and refueling facilities at Fort Lamy. The loyal Governor of Ivory Coast on meeting Boisson demanded the arrest of the administrator of Upper Volta Province with whom former had quarreled. Boisson refused and gave support to the administrator who immediately issued a proclamation, apparently with the tacit consent of the High Commissioner, declaring the adherence of his territory to De Gaulle.17

Husson will officially receive the British Consul General only to discuss economic matters but is not privately antagonistic.

Following the recent visit of Admiral Platou (by plane direct from Vichy Government) to the French Cameroons Brunot18 formerly most staunch ally of British colonies has gone disappointingly sour Governor states and is frightened. He requested withdrawal of His Majesty’s Ship Dragon (now here) from Duala and refuses to receive military liaison officers.

The Governor confirms my information that older officers of French colonial army hold with Vichy but the majority of younger officers are for cooperation with the British. Without [While?] recognizing the danger of repercussion from France to new measures of blockade Governor does not believe there is any immediate danger of overt French action against British colonial possessions, however the situation remains [Page 640]kaleidoscopic. The French are demobilizing part of armed forces in nearby colonies. Nevertheless plans for compulsory evacuation of European women and children to South Africa in case of need are now before the Secretary of State for the Colonies. Americans would be included unless alternative arrangements were made.

While badly needing markets the French think the British need their produce. British will now reduce purchases in French colonial possessions for a time hoping to develop a more cooperative attitude politically.

The remainder will follow.19

Jester
  1. Gen. Charles de Gaulle, leader of the Free French movement.
  2. General Brunot, High Commissioner of the French Cameroons.
  3. Second and third sections, dated August 2, 11 a.m., not printed.