851.86/96: Telegram

The Ambassador in the United Kingdom (Winant) to the Secretary of State

2410. Admiral Stark has requested that the following telegram be sent to the Department with reference to his proposed solutions for the avoidance of difficulties in American and British ports through the enrollment of personnel of crews on North African French vessels in Fighting French forces:

“General de Gaulle had proposed to Admiral Stark that such personnel be ordered by de Gaulle, after enrollment, to return to their ships, at least temporarily. General de Gaulle indicated that before giving such orders he would require a guarantee that on the return of the vessel to North Africa, where replacement might be obtained, this personnel should be permitted to proceed to a Free French base for duty.

Admiral Stark had enquired whether de Gaulle would be prepared to order the suspension of recruiting of French personnel from North African services during the course of negotiations now under way in Algiers subject to a guarantee that they would on return to North Africa be permitted to proceed to a Fighting French base if they still wished to join Fighting France. This might be provided for in any general recruiting agreement which may be contemplated in Algiers.

In the telegram NAF–196 from Eisenhower60 of March 30, General Catroux is reported as agreeing to the necessity of such an immediate recruiting agreement. He is discussing with Giraud the possibility of a joint de Gaulle–Giraud statement inviting all French abroad to remain in their present services pending the creation of a unified French military and naval organization.

In view of these circumstances Admiral Stark enquires whether the United States Government would be disposed to guarantee an option for personnel on North African ships to join de Gaulle forces at a later date, if de Gaulle were to agree immediately to order the suspension of enrollments by Fighting French of men from North African French vessels.”

  1. Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, Commander in Chief of the Allied Expeditionary Force in North Africa.