851R.20/23: Telegram

The Consul General at Algiers (Cole) to the Secretary of State

320. From Murphy. General Juin, commanding French forces in Africa, is departing on a tour of inspection of coastal defenses in Morocco. This tour of inspection is responsive to a recent German demand that the French take action to strengthen their coastal defense system in Africa which after a recent investigation made by General Boem, a special representative of the German Armistice Commission, is described as weak and ineffective. Boem’s report also reported that the French Army officers in charge of coast defense are not animated by the “desirable aggressive spirit” and demand that changes of personnel be effected.

General Juin continues to manifest friendly sentiment towards the United States. In a recent conversation with me he described the weakness of the French military situation in French North Africa saying in conclusion “you Americans must come to our assistance”. Contacts who know him well state that there is no doubt regarding [Page 301] his anti-Axis sentiment but that he cannot be depended on for independent initiative.

Admiral Fénard, Secretary General for French Africa, asked me to call yesterday, plying me with questions regarding Martinique,48 about which I told him I was without information. He repeatedly expressed the hope that after a friendly settlement of the Martinique question, that the Department would turn its attention to French North Africa, and authorize resumption of shipments under the economic plan. He said that it now appeared that North Africa would shortly receive shipments of German synthetic gasoline via France. He also said that shipments of gasoline received from Europe are continuing via Algeria and Tunisia to Libya. He also stated that there is a regular flow of military equipment from France to North Africa with German consent to strengthen French capacity to resist Anglo-American aggression. He concluded with another suggestion that French North Africa is ready and eager to cooperate with the United States but that apparently we do not see it that way or are simply not interested.

Repeated to Vichy. [Murphy.]

  1. For correspondence concerning the French possessions in the Caribbean, see pp. 611 ff.