740.0011 (E. W.)/11–742: Telegram

The Consul General at Algiers (Cole) to the War Department 81

[Unnumbered.] From Murphy. On arrival in Algiers I received urgent request for secret interview from Colonel Chrétien who is head of G–2 in French Africa. I met him at an isolated place some miles from Algiers this evening in the presence of two members of Robin Hood Group with whom I have been in contact for several months.

Officer informed me in strictest secrecy that during recent visit to Vichy he had received instructions from Admiral Darlan’s immediate entourage to contact me on my return for following stated reason:

French Government has been informed by both German and Japanese sources that United States is planning early military operations against Dakar and/or Casablanca and has been urged to take every precaution. Contact agreed at my suggestion that this may constitute pretext for Axis occupation of French North Africa. The Germans have made some small concessions to strengthen French military establishments in French Africa particularly Dakar but these are really insignificant.

French General Staff are convinced of impending German aggression against French Africa. Darlan believes in German determination and plan to settle western Mediterranean issue during coming weeks and that Germans will have use of bases on Spanish mainland and Spanish Morocco. Vigilant surveillance of Gibraltar is maintained. In French opinion Germans will have at least 8 days warning of an American or Anglo-American action. They believe information leaks through from England as in the case of Dieppe.

Contact to my surprise made no effort to question me regarding American intentions. He stated that the political situation in France is extremely fragile and that it may collapse in as little as 10 days; that Darlan’s entourage are convinced that the German move will occur in any event before November 1. He said it is not in French opinion a question of weeks but of days. Under these circumstances Darlan, he said, is faced with a decision. If Darlan, he continued, could be informed that should he as Commander-in-Chief of French armed forces decide to come to Africa entraining with him the French Fleet that the U. S. would be willing [and] able to supply immediate large scale aid—effective [apparent omission] material and economic [Page 393] supply—there is strong possibility that Darlan would undertake such cooperation.82 If he did the military and naval forces in French Africa would undoubtedly obey his command.

This is obviously of the greatest importance and my French friends and I are convinced of reliability and sincerity of contact who stated that negotiations with us would be carried on in Algiers as German Gestapo in Vichy rendered conversations impossible there.

Officer went into long exposé of French military weakness in North Africa due to lack of equipment and supply but said they could raise as much as a half million men.

The French Military [apparent omission] he stated that due to lack of sufficient equipment and supplies they will be unable to make serious resistance to an Axis attack without our immediate aid and that Laval is capable of an accord with the Germans along the lines of accord with Japan regarding Indochina83 if this not already the fact.

It should be noted also that subsequent to my conversations with General Noguès in Morocco last week Noguès sent to me head of the French G–2 in Morocco for the sole purpose of informing me that I would possibly receive a message from Darlan in Algiers.

There is no doubt that the situation in French North Africa is moving fast. I learn that Axis have massed about one hundred thousand troops along the Tunisian frontier and French G–2 have information they say that extensive German plans for aviation attack have been perfected. They say there is no doubt of an important German inside organization in French North Africa equipped with arms and means of communication including a network of 30 clandestine radio transmitters with a plan to seize key points working with Parti Populaire groups and natives. German intervention in French Moroccan administration is indubitable according to information gathered during my conversations with several officials in French Morocco. German customs officers and Armistice Commission maintain vigilant surveillance of port of Casablanca where not a ship nor a pound of merchandise may move without German authorization. At that place French recently intercepted two messages from Consul General Auer to Berlin warning latter of imminent American attack. Please inform me at once how far I may go in replying to Darlan’s representative who in effect asks: (1) would we be willing to cooperate with Darlan and (2) if so, are we able to do so quickly on a large scale here and/or Europe. I urge that we encourage Darlan and believe [Page 394] this would be reconcilable with eventual cooperation with Giraud84 about whom I shall telegraph encouraging news tomorrow. Darlan is expected here next week. Inform Leahy and Eisenhower. [Murphy.]

  1. From his return to Algiers until the Allied occupation of North Africa, Mr. Murphy communicated through the Consul General at Algiers and the Department of State with the War Department and received instructions in similar manner. The telegrams were not in a Department of State code and no deciphered copies were supplied to that Department at the time. Copies of these messages were transmitted to the Department of State under cover of a letter of September 7, 1960, from the Office of the Secretary of Defense.
  2. This sentence is garbled.
  3. See footnote 75, p. 389.
  4. Gen. Henri Honoré Giraud, following his escape from Germany in April 1942, had established residence in southern France and was at this time in communication with French patriots in Algiers.