740.0011 European War 1939/4264¾: Telegram

The Ambassador in Italy (Phillips) to the Secretary of State

658. At his request King Alfonso of Spain came to see me this afternoon for the purpose, he said, of offering his services to the President if he could be of help in any move to initiate conversations between the Germans, Italians and the British before the supreme effort against England had begun. He reminded me that he had many intimate contacts among the British including Churchill, that he was in close touch with Italian court circles and he mentioned in passing that the German Ambassador was lunching with him tomorrow.

He offered no plan but felt that no effort should be spared to prevent the blow from falling upon England.

While he was careful to explain that he was speaking only on his own initiative and was without any information on the subject of peace proposals he thought he had accurate military information.

He was certain that the Italian movement on the Italo-French frontier had been seriously checked, that the Italian Army had been thrown back into Italian territory with 1,000 dead and many casualties and that this was the position when the Italo-French armistice48 was signed. Furthermore the King said that a similar situation had developed in Cyrenaica and that British troops had already penetrated beyond the first line of Italian forts and to a depth of 30 kilometers.

In spite of the King’s assertion I am not entirely convinced that his message to the President is made solely on his own initiative [Page 40]and yet I have nothing to confirm this view. But the apparent urgency of his call and the fact that he has never before called on me leaves me open to suspicion. He asked me in conclusion to send his cordial greetings and regards to the President.

Phillips
  1. Signed June 24, 1940; for text, see Documents on American Foreign Relations. July 1939–June 1940, vol. ii, p. 436.