The Secretary of State to the President 1
Memorandum for the President
The British Embassy has handed us a copy of Mr. Churchill’s messages to you, nos. 3992 and 4003 of August 3, concerning a possible formula to govern our future relations with the French Committee of National Liberation.[Page 665]
We have endeavored to harmonize the formula which you sent to Mr. Churchill on July 224 with the latest Foreign Office formula, preserving the essential parts of each. A copy of our suggested draft is attached.
We have assumed that this Government has undertaken to equip a French army of approximately 300,000 men to serve, in the first instance, under the direct orders of General Giraud and, in the final analysis, under the orders of the Allied Commander-in-Chief. We likewise assume that this undertaking on our part was predicated on the understanding that General Giraud would have the final word with respect to the French forces which we are arming and that in military matters General Giraud would be the sole responsible French authority with whom the two Governments would deal with respect to the French armed forces.
You are of course aware that on July 31 the French Committee of National Liberation issued a new decree providing in part for the creation of a Committee of National Defense under the chairmanship of General de Gaulle and subject to the “directive” of the main Committee. The question of whether or not the present personnel of the Committee of National Defense is satisfactory appears to be irrelevant since its members are apparently subject to change at any time by the French Committee of National Liberation (which is of course dominated by de Gaulle). A copy of the communiqué from Algiers concerning the new set-up, as reported in the New York Times of August 1, is attached herewith.5
Although General Giraud has informed Mr. Murphy that he is fully satisfied with the new set-up, we have no knowledge as yet of General Eisenhower’s opinion. It is our view that General Giraud has lost further ground and in view of the well-known attitude of General de Gaulle and his followers toward this country we feel it essential in our dealings with the Committee to make a clear-cut distinction between military and other questions. This distinction was not at all clear in the latest British formula which appears to us as being the same for all practical purposes as their formula of July 8.6
You will also have noted that in spite of your telling the Prime Minister that you objected to the use of the word “recognition” in any form, the British have come right back with the same phrase.
In our draft we have omitted the British reference to the Committee’s position in the Levant and they may wish to handle this separately with the French. We likewise consider it wise to omit reference to past agreements, since we do not know what agreements the British may [Page 666] have made with the Fighting French. This question can be taken up with the French under the general terms of our proposed declaration.
You may be interested in the attached note7 left with us jointly by General Béthouart of the French Military Mission and Mr. Baudet of the Fighting French Delegation concerning the Committee’s interest in being consulted in connection with Italian developments.
I am furnishing a copy of our latest revision of the formula to the War Department for its comment with respect to the safeguarding of the position of our military command.
If the formula is approved by the British we would wish, if possible, to postpone publication for a few days in order to notify the Soviet, Canadian, and certain other interested Governments of our intentions.