740.0011 European War 1939/5798½: Telegram

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

3247. For the President and the Secretary. I have seen Halifax and Kingsley Wood. The Dakar situation55 is a bitter pill for the entire Cabinet and, from my observation, for the entire country. The newspapers have been most critical. It is the first real break in the Churchill popularity and there is a definite feeling that they have not a Prime Minister but a Generalissimo. The night raids are continuing to do, I think, substantial damage and the day raids of the last three days have dealt most serious blows to Bristol, Southampton and Liverpool. Production is definitely falling, regardless of what reports you may be getting, and with transportation being smashed up the way it is, the present production output will continue to fall.

The Government still publicly say they do not want America to come into the war because if she did they could not get supplies. I think this is only for public consumption because they have been advised by their American representatives that that is the course to proceed along. But they are hoping and praying every minute that something will happen that will bring the United States in.

First of all, Halifax in describing the Spanish, Egyptian and Turkish situation admitted these countries would practically be governed by the course of events in Great Britain. In other words, if things go well with Great Britain they will withstand Axis pressure; if things look as if they are going badly, they are liable to tumble over any day. Secondly, the British regard the need for financial aid as most serious and they realize they could get it easier and without any question or discussion if America were in the war.

My own feeling is that they are in a bad way. Bombers have got through in the day time on the last 3 days and on four occasions today substantial numbers of German planes have flown over London and have done some daylight bombing. Moreover, all their six naval units at Dakar received some damage, two or three of them substantial damage. Without being an expert, I cannot help feeling that the evidence in Norway, Dakar and Dunkirk and the fate of the destroyers traveling in the English Channel indicate that naval units are in a bad way when they are within a couple of hundred miles of the enemy’s aerodromes.

I cannot impress upon you strongly enough my complete lack of confidence in the entire conduct of this war. I was delighted to see that [Page 49]the President said he was not going to enter the war, because to enter this war, imagining for a minute that the English have anything to offer in the line of leadership or productive capacity in industry that could be of the slightest value to us, would be a complete misapprehension. The morale of the British is as high as can be expected. They have concentrated all their attention on the victories in the air. They have sloughed over their losses at sea. They cannot cover up Dakar, however, and people are drawing their own conclusions. If there was not the hope of the United States in the offing, Japan’s signing with Germany and Italy would be another nail in the coffin. If by any chance we should ever come to the point of getting into this war we can make up our minds that it will be the United States against Germany, Italy and Japan, aided by a badly shot to pieces country which in the last analysis can give little, if any, assistance to cause. It breaks my heart to draw these conclusions about a people that I sincerely hoped might be victorious but I cannot get myself to the point where I believe they can be of any assistance to the cause in which they are involved.

Kennedy
  1. Dakar, French West Africa, was unsuccessfully attacked by British and Free French forces, September 23–25, 1940.