851B.01/781/10

Memorandum by Mr. James C. H. Bonbright of the Division of European Affairs

Mr. Henri Hoppenot, Chief of the Civilian Services of the French Military Mission, called on Mr. Atherton15 this morning to inform him that he had received instructions from the French Committee of National Liberation in Algiers appointing him as a “délégué extraordinaire” to negotiate with the United States Government and with the authorities in Martinique concerning the future administration of the French Antilles.

Mr. Hoppenot hoped that an early decision could be reached in order that he might proceed by plane to Puerto Rico where he would board the French destroyer Terrible and continue on to Fort-de-France. The members of his mission were to include the following persons:

  • Commandant Lambert (Appointed by Admiral Fénard)
  • Commandant Sarrat (Since his escape from Martinique this spring he has been actively engaged in de Gaullist activities.)
  • Colonel de Chevigne (At present ranking military representative of the Fighting French in this country and a rabid de Gaullist.)
  • M. Ponton (A career colonial officer now in St. Lucia, British West Indies, where he has been engaged in recruiting for the de Gaullists.)
  • Naval Captain Wietzel (Now in London and presumably an adherent of de Gaulle.)
  • General Jacomy (Formerly a member of the French Purchasing Commission in the United States and now in Algiers. Thought to be an adherent of Giraud. He will eventually have command of the French troops in the Antilles.)
  • M. Charvet (An employee of the French Military Mission who will act as Hoppenot’s secretary or clerk.)

Mr. Hoppenot stated that he had informed the members of his mission that he and they would act as representatives of the French Committee of National Liberation; that he would make that position clear upon his arrival in Martinique and that no appeals to support de Gaulle or Giraud personally would be entertained. He added that it [Page 244]would be his policy to work in close cooperation with the United States.

Mr. Hoppenot said that he was prepared to negotiate directly with Admiral Robert if the latter were willing or with any successor, such as Admiral Le Loup, whom Robert might appoint to maintain authority until Hoppenot’s arrival.

With regard to the disposition of Admiral Robert, Mr. Hoppenot stated that although the Algiers committee would not desire any publicity to be given to it, they would not object to the granting of a safe conduct to Admiral Robert to return to France. He added that, of course, this was a question in which we were also interested and that personally he would have been inclined to favor detaining Robert at Hershey, Pennsylvania where former Ambassador Henry-Haye is located.

It is apparently Hoppenot’s thought that he would only remain in Martinique for a matter of a few weeks in order to straighten out the situation and pending the definitive appointment of a governor of Martinique and a governor of Guadeloupe. He said that it was not the intention of the committee to keep the office of High Commissioner, now held by Admiral Robert, with authority over all the French Antilles. It was his intention to have the local administration carried on temporarily by the present Secretaries General of Martinique and Guadeloupe until appointment of new governors.

  1. Ray Atherton, Acting Chief of the Division of European Affairs.