851D.001/5: Telegram

The Chargé in the United Kingdom (Matthews) to the Secretary of State

1979. Department’s 1709, March 20, 9 p.m.39 The French National Committee announced last night the appointment of Maurice Bertaud as Governor of French Guiana. The press this morning briefly reports the appointment and states that the new Governor is now in the Cameroons. In response to inquiries by Commander Kittredge40 to confirm the accuracy of this report, Carlton Gardens41 appears “singularly embarrassed”. They now say that the name Bertaud was merely “informally suggested” to M. Sophie, Mayor of Cayenne, President of the local committee for Fighting French. They confirm that he is now in the Cameroons. (It may be that they now regret the premature announcement of Bertaud’s appointment prior to his arrival in the Colony.)

Fighting France also says that Sophie’s announcement of his adherence to General Giraud 2 days ago, when Veber was ousted from the Colony by a “popular uprising” against him, was an error based on their assumption that union between de Gaulle and Giraud was already an accomplished fact.

Mack42 telephoned me last night to say that without consulting the Foreign Office, Carlton Gardens had given out the news to the press and that in their “handout” General de Gaulle was reported to have sent his “warm congratulations on the patriotism of the Colony” to M. Sophie and to have expressed approval of his actions. [Page 258]The “handout” went on to speak of the “increasingly large number of young Frenchmen from Guadeloupe and Martinique who are escaping to join de Gaulle” and mentioned by name the Chef de Bataillon Sarrat. The escapes, according to Carlton Gardens, are continuing and new volunteers are awaiting transportation in neighboring colonies. Mack said that he believed this action of de Gaulle and the National Committee would not be approved by the Department, and the Foreign Office had, therefore, done what it could to keep the news off the air and to get the press to minimize it. In the latter it has been successful, for the Sunday papers give only a few lines to French Guiana developments.

Mack told me this morning that a telegram from the British Ambassador at Rio43 reports that Veber has arrived there and requested transportation to North Africa.

Matthews
  1. Not printed; it requested information as to the name and whereabouts of the Governor of French Guiana appointed by General de Gaulle (851D.001/18a).
  2. Cmdr. Tracy B. Kittredge, Aide to Adm. Harold R. Stark, Commander of the United States Naval Forces in Europe.
  3. Headquarters of the French National Committee in London.
  4. William H. B. Mack, British Political Liaison Officer with the United States Forces in Great Britain, with rank of Acting Assistant Under-Secretary of State.
  5. Sir N. H. H. Charles.