851.85/209a: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Ambassador in France (Leahy)

279. You should seek the earliest possible opportunity to see Marshal Pétain79 and to explain that you are approaching him personally from the standpoint of the friendly interest of this Government in France and in the status of its vessels which have taken refuge in United States ports. Since members of the crews of some of these vessels are outspokenly anti-British the Marshal will recognize the situation as regards the presence of such vessels in American harbors and will appreciate the friendly spirit in which this Government makes the suggestion that these vessels may be asked to accept closer American surveillance, even to the extent of placing guards on board for observation purposes.

If the Marshal however would be prepared to give you an assurance on behalf of the French Government that these vessels have not been, or will not in any way be, damaged by any action of their crews in pursuance from instructions emanating from any French authority, but on the contrary French authorities will specifically forbid any act of vandalism this Government would be disposed to grant these vessels a special position. On the other hand, should the Marshal prefer not to give such assurances it may be necessary to carry out the suggestion outlined above.

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At an appropriate moment in the course of your conversation, you may clearly emphasize that your Government does not expect that any advantage shall be taken by any member of the French Government of this purely friendly suggestion made direct to the Marshal.

  1. Marshal Henri Philippe Pétain, French Chief of State.