851.00/2169½

The Counselor of Embassy in France (Murphy), Temporarily at Algiers, to the Under Secretary of State (Welles)

Dear Mr. Welles: You might be interested to know that among others Louis Rollin, formerly of Havas,38 has been living in Algiers where he is part of a small group who have given much thought to the direction in which France has been going during the months since the Armistice, and who have been busy lately with the formulation of a plan of action. I might mention also that Metral, formerly under-secretary for Air, is associated in the study which is being made.

General Weygand’s departure, I believe, is crystallizing this study into a practical movement which has the advantage of being limited to a very small group. In essence, their purpose is the establishment in French Africa of a provisional government operating independently of metropolitan France. They are searching and hope to find shortly a military leader (General Delattre de Tassigny, commanding in Tunisia, is the man they have in view now). They feel that he is sufficiently ambitious, ruthless and able to lead such a movement. They also have in mind that Yves Chatel, who succeeded General Weygand as Governor General of Algeria, will fill the top civilian role in such a provisional setup. The control would be in the hands of four or five men at the most. Their immediate action would consist of cutting off all communication with metropolitan France, at which time they will require both economic and military support from the United States. By military support they mean matériel and munitions.

Another phase of their current study is a formula under which a bridge could be constructed between themselves and the De Gaulle38a organization. Their conviction is that a large number of desirable military and civilian officials otherwise available, because of an undoubted antipathy which exists among them, would shrink from the idea of forming part of the De Gaulle organization.

They are also studying the question of the role which the French Admiralty would play in such an undertaking. They say that they are reasonably certain of the army and the air force, and that while the navy would play a secondary part, it nevertheless is a factor to be considered.

I thought that you would want me to mention this to you quite informally as a factor in the present situation which may or may not [Page 484]develop. As to our interest, I have contented myself with references to the public statements made by the President, the Secretary and yourself regarding the American desire to support any group which is offering resistance to axis aggression, and I have also underscored as much as possible my notion regarding the considerable volume of aid, both economic and matériel, which should be available in the United States during the coming months.

Louis Rollin feels that there is a strong possibility that this movement may materialize during the coming weeks.

Faithfully yours,

Robert D. Murphy
  1. Official French news agency.
  2. Gen. Charles de Gaulle, leader of the Free French.