740.0011 European War 1939/7091: Telegram

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

Referring to the Department’s telegram dated December 4, 6 p.m., from the standpoint of my interest in the safety and welfare of American citizens in this area, I have discussed with the Governor here the possibility of military operations occurring in West Africa and stated that I have been informed that an expedition into Ivory Coast might soon be undertaken from the Gold Coast. He emphatically denied the existence of any such plans and outlined the policy of the colonial governments and the military commander for West Africa to be: (1) the prevention of any form of German activities in this region, (2) preventing supplies of any kind reaching Germany from French territory, (3) to avoid hostilities if at all possible with the neighboring French colonies, but as regards the latter he observed that one never knew when “the Prime Minister might take the bit in his teeth as he did in the Dakar affair”.

However, unusually large stocks of motor gasoline are being accumulated at Takoradi, much of it in small drums and considerable shipments of same are being sent there from Lagos. Missionaries report native troops are being concentrated on the northern border Nigeria in the direction of Zinder and believe British preparing for an offensive on scale to avert another Dakar fiasco. Informed some De Gaulle forces in Cameroon moving to Chad, also some by sea to Port Sudan. Pratt and Whitney representative at Takoradi reports from authoritative French sources which is confirmed by opinion in Duala that Weygand will not return to France and is believed likely to support Free France movement in near future for which contingency British and French appear to be marking time.

Am making discreet inquiries through Americans only regarding size of military forces in the Gold Coast. Will report later.23

  1. Telegram of December 23, 3 p.m., not printed.