740.0011 European War 1939/30057/10: Telegram
The Ambassador in the United Kingdom (Kennedy) to the Secretary of State
[Received May 24—11 a.m.]
1344. Personal for the Secretary. I saw Halifax38 last night. The situation according to the people who know is very very grim. The mass of the people just never seem to realize that England can be beaten or that the worst can happen to them. I think the people in charge have in mind, realizing that the situation at the minute in France is precarious, that if necessary France will probably retreat to some line and hold on and England will get ready for attacks of all kinds. They feel that they will protect themselves well in the daytime and at night the efforts of the Germans cannot be anything but indiscriminate and they expect to return the attack on German locations, and in this way hold on for some time until help can arrive from the United States. Frankly I don’t think that, if the French and British expeditionary force are licked in their present struggle, things will turn out quite as well as the English hope. I do not underestimate the courage or guts of these people but from the reports brought back by American newspapermen who were with the forces in Belgium and [Page 32]Northern France, it is going to take more than guts to hold off the systematic air attacks of the Germans coupled with air terrific superiority in numbers.
There is no question that everybody is mystified as to how the French were driven back so easily. They all seem to be looking for the answer but there is no doubt that there is terrific disappointment.
Halifax does not think that Mussolini has any influence at all with Hitler. He is definitely of the opinion that if anybody is able to save a debacle on the part of the Allies if it arrives at that point it is the President. Halifax still believes that that influence is one that the Germans still fear.
- Lord Halifax, British Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs.↩