851.01/1075: Telegram

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

2006. For the President and the Secretary of State. The impression gained by Murphy from de Gaulle’s mission at Algiers reported in Murphy’s 422, March 18, 5 p.m., finds considerable corroboration at this end. Carlton Gardens in private conversations state frankly that they think that all the past propaganda and attacks in the British and American press have served to “wear down” Giraud to the point where he will be glad to turn over the political side of his administration, if not directly to de Gaulle, to Catroux. They feel that thus they will accomplish their primary objective, namely, political supremacy for de Gaulle. They are quite willing to modify the composition of the national committee but they insist on two things, first that its name shall be retained and Giraud “adhere to it” (my telegrams Nos. 1557, March 3, 8 p.m. and 1587, March 4, 10 p.m.9) and consequently that de Gaulle be given the real power therein. They add, with what appears to them a generous concession, that any changes Giraud desires will be made except that Noguès,10 Peyrouton11 or other “men of Vichy” cannot be included in the inner membership of such new national committee. Apparently they envisage also a larger council including colonial governors in which they would be prepared to accept the two above mentioned and even Boisson provided that they get the political control they are so ambitious to have.

Whatever the facts of feeling in France, de Gaulle and his entourage sitting in the relative isolation of London and listening only to their own representatives paid by their funds (advanced from the British Treasury!) and brought from France at their instigation, have at least partly convinced themselves that suffering France demands the leadership of de Gaulle the man, not merely de Gaulle the symbol. They insist (my telegram no. 1791, March 13, 6 p.m.12) that their “secret army” numbers 150,000 whereas certain British [Page 77]secret reports and our own Office of Strategic Services put the maximum at 25,000. Whether or not the Gaullists views of their own strength are exaggerated the fact remains that they look upon themselves as the real liberators and consequently by right the governors of the future France. To them Giraud and North Africa are but useful appendages or irritating competitors to the great magnetizing movement of Fighting France depending on whether or not agreement is reached. The warning note sounded by French socialist spokesmen against any “single party” trend is lost on those to whom personal allegiance to General de Gaulle is the acid test for Fighting France.…

That Carlton Gardens are aware that the chief obstacle to their recognition de facto as the government of France today and the liberated France of tomorrow is American policy is clear from their speech, both public and private. For example, in addition to his remarks reported in my telegram No. 1896, March 18, noon,13 André Philip on Saturday14 in addressing a public meeting celebrating the thousandth day of the Fighting French movement said, with an obvious reference to us, that because of their moral and material suffering there were two expressions which the people of France could no longer stomach: “realism” and “temporary expediency”. He was wildly applauded. Both Philip and Massigli have, however, told de Gaulle that the people of France would never understand it if he broke with the American and British Governments. De Gaulle, I am told was impressed with this advice and it may be well to remember this should future occasion require.

Paraphrase to Murphy.

Matthews
  1. Neither printed.
  2. Gen. Albert Noguès, Resident General in Morocco.
  3. Marcel Peyrouton, Governor General of Algeria.
  4. Not printed.
  5. Not printed.
  6. March 20.