851D.001/6: Telegram

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

1983. My telegram no. 1979, March 21, 2 p.m. Admiral Stark has received the following rather peremptory letter from General de Gaulle dated March 21:

“I believe that I should send you for your information copies of three clear telegrams dated March 17 and 18 which reached me yesterday from M. Sophie, Mayor of Cayenne and President of the Comité de Ralliement of Fighting France.

It is clear from these telegrams that the de facto authorities and the population of French Guiana are urgently asking me for instructions and requesting me to appoint a Governor. Several of these communications have at the same time been sent to General Giraud. The delegation of the National Committee having been informed immediately got in contact with the Mission of General Bethouart.44 That mission replied to the delegation that: al [Colonel?] LeBel of General Bethouart’s staff had left for French Guiana where he should arrive March 22 at midday.

I had on my side instructed Colonel de Chevigné, Chief of the Military Mission of Fighting France in the United States to proceed to Cayenne to take on the spot in the name of the National Committee all necessary steps pending the arrival of the Governor. This Governor, M. Bertaud, Chief Administrator of Colonies and at present [Page 259]in the Cameroons, was yesterday appointed by the National Committee which has informed General Giraud thereof.

However, Colonel de Chevigne informs me of the fact that the War Department at Washington has advised him that he cannot leave before the month of April.

The arrival at Cayenne of the representative of General Giraud going from Washington while the representative of the National Committee is delayed threatens to involve French Guiana in confusion and incidents of every kind with respect to which I must ask you urgently to draw the attention of the Government of the United States.

In order to prevent, while there is still time, such confusion and such incidents, I believe it necessary that the trip of Colonel LeBel be immediately halted en route, at least until Colonel de Chevigné has been able to join him. These two officers will thus be in a position to proceed together to Cayenne jointly to study the situation and ascertain the facts.”

The three telegrams enclosed therewith are as follows

March 17:
“Adherence is demanded by the population, cable urgently your instructions to the Mayor of Cayenne, representative of the Local Committee. A similar communication has been sent to General Giraud.”
March 18:
“In order to avoid any misunderstanding with respect to the despatch of Veber, the Comité de Ealliement states that adherence is due solely to the population, Governor Veber only yielding before it. Since the latter is leaving the Colony this evening, M. Collat, Chief of Administration, is assured by the delegation of the Committee that current business may be carried out. Please designate a new Governor. An identical message has been sent to General Giraud.”
March 18:
“The Committee has charged M. Collat, Chief of Administration unclassified of the General Secretariat of the Colonies, to carry on current business of the Government of Guiana and Inini. I should appreciate your giving me your approval.”

I have suggested to Admiral Stark that since General de Gaulle has requested that the foregoing be communicated to our Government I believe that he could appropriately request copies of de Gaulle’s replies to the messages quoted above.

I can find no sense of gratification at Carlton Gardens that French Guiana is at last in the camp of the United Nations: On the contrary only irritation at the earlier indication that it had adhered to General Giraud. Commander Kittredge, who has been in close touch with Carlton Gardens, describes the present situation as “another effort of de Gaulle to get in on the ground floor”.

  1. Gen. M. E. Bethouart, Chief of the French Military Mission in the United States, sent by General Giraud.