881.00/2340: Telegram

The Consul General at Casablanca (Russell) to the Secretary of State

771. For Murphy from King.63 Reference your telegram 293, September 23, 6 p.m.64 The reason for General Noguès’ visit to Vichy was to confer with Pétain and Laval regarding suppression of all activities of the Parti Populaire Français in France and Morocco. Agreement is reported to have reached the point where Pétain and Laval decided to oppose any more German plots for a coup d’état through the Parti Populaire Français even if the Marshal and Laval have to come to North Africa.

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Admiral Darlan65 is expected to arrive here on October 10, ostensibly for the purpose of inspecting troops.

Noguès was due to arrive in Rabat September 27 by airplane from Algiers. At the last minute he accepted a seat in General Bergeret’s66 private plane instead of in the regular Air France plane which crashed shortly after its departure, causing deaths of all 25 persons on board, causes of crash attributed to sabotage, official report not published yet, but following secret information has been given me: one Dives of the Parti Populaire Français recently arrived in Morocco with a special travel order signed by Benoist-Méchin.67

On the morning of the accident Dives told some friends in his hotel room in Casablanca that, since it had not been possible to get rid of Noguès, an airplane accident had been arranged and was taking place that hour. A microphone record of this speech was made by police agents in an adjoining room and handed to General Noguès who arrived in Rabat about 2 hours later. Noguès telephoned Laval who told him to return Dives to France as soon as possible to be dealt with along with Benoist-Méchin’s group. It appears that the discovery by Laval of Benoist-Méchin’s and the Parti Populaire Français’ plot to overthrow him coincided with the discovery by the French Moroccan police of a plot by Dives and the Parti Populaire Français to seize on October 10 all public administrations, post offices and wireless transmission stations, and to overthrow the Noguès–Herviot regime in Morocco at the same time as a similar coup d’état was taking place in France.

These recent events have increased General Noguès anti-German feeling.

Repeated to Vichy and Tangier as our 212 with special reference to the Naval Attaché.

  1. David W. King, Vice Consul at Casablanca.
  2. Not printed.
  3. Adm. Jean Francois Darlan, Commander in Chief of all French Armed Forces.
  4. Gen. Jean Marie Bergeret, former French Secretary of State for Aviation; in December 1942 he became a member of the Imperial Council for North Africa.
  5. Jacques Benoist-Méchin, Secretary of State to Pierre Laval, French Chief of Government.