851B.24/33: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Consul General in Martinique ( Malige )

3. The following is for your own strictly confidential information. You may wish to have a preliminary conversation with Lenoir66 upon his return now scheduled for January 10, before discussing the substance of this telegram with the High Commissioner.67

It must be obvious that Admiral Robert’s counter proposal68 is thoroughly unsatisfactory and we should not be prepared to accept it even as a basis of discussion.

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During his visit to the United States Lenoir was fully and completely informed of the position of this Government of its proposal and of its relations with other parts of the French Empire. He has likewise had several conversations with General Giraud’s69 special mission now in Washington and was received by Admiral Horne.70 At the latter meeting Admiral Horne began by stating he had great admiration for Marshal Pétain71 and sympathy for the Marshal’s position but that it was clear no real government existed in Vichy any longer and that the Marshal being a virtual prisoner of the Germans was no longer able to help the French Empire. In the circumstances lie said that communications between Martinique and Vichy would have to cease. He then said that we were willing to deal with Admiral Robert on either of two bases (1) as a person who collaborates with the French Army now fighting the Axis in North Africa or (2) as a “quasi independent” agent in the French possessions. He said that we do not believe in threats but that we have reached a point where something must be done and that the collaboration of Admiral Robert with us is essential. In reply to a question Admiral Horne outlined the situation of French warships at Dakar and Alexandria. Formal assurances were given to Lenoir that the United States had no designs with respect to French sovereignty in the Antilles and Guiana and that the French flag would continue to fly. It was also added that whereas no useful purpose could be served by discussing details regarding the protection to be afforded French ships at this time it was nevertheless our definite intention to do our utmost to see that French possessions received the supplies needed.

Whereas Admiral Robert’s indication that convoying of his ships could now be envisaged as representing a step in the right direction we feel no useful purpose will be served by discussing any such details as contained in your no. 8 of January 5, 6 p.m.72

Lenoir is likewise fully informed regarding the Board of Economic Warfare’s proposal to reclassify the French possessions for the purposes of export control. Further details will be furnished you as soon as practicable.

  1. J. Lenoir, Comptroller for Admiral Robert.
  2. Adm. Georges Robert, French High Commissioner in the French West Indies.
  3. See Admiral Robert’s letter of December 29, 1942, to the Consul General in Martinique, Foreign Relations, 1942, Vol. ii, p. 652.
  4. Gen. Henri Honoré Giraud, French High Commissioner of French North Africa.
  5. Adm. F. J. Horne, Vice Chief of Naval Operations.
  6. Henri Philippe Pétain, French Chief of State.
  7. Not printed.