740.0011 European War 1939/33516

The Secretary of State to Admiral William D. Leahy, Chief of Staff to the Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy

My Dear Admiral Leahy: In your letter of February 17, 1944 you were good enough to set forth the views of the Joint Chiefs of Staff with regard to a proposal of the French Committee of National Liberation looking toward the providing of additional arms and other assistance to resistance groups in France.

As of possible interest in this connection, I am quoting for your information a pertinent passage from a letter of March 10, 1944 from a member of the British Embassy in Washington32 to Mr. James C. Dunn, [Page 656] Director of the Office of European Affairs:

“The views of the United States Chiefs of Staff were communicated by the British representatives on the Combined Chiefs of Staff to London. The British Chiefs of Staff replied that they were in complete agreement that the special meeting in London proposed by the French Committee of National Liberation was not necessary, and that they were informing the Foreign Office accordingly. They added the information that the Prime Minister, who on his return from convalescence in the Mediterranean took an active interest in the resistance groups in France, had set up a Committee to examine methods of increasing the flow of military equipment to them. This Committee has as its Chairman the Minister of Economic Warfare, who is the British Minister responsible for S.O.E.33 activities. Its members include representatives from S.O.E., O.S.S.,34 the British Air Ministry and the French Committee of National Liberation. The Supreme Commander, Allied Expeditionary Forces, is kept closely in touch with the work of the Committee.

“The above information was communicated by the representatives of the British Chiefs of Staff to the Combined Chiefs on February 24th, together with a draft of a telegram which, they suggested, might be despatched to the Supreme Commander, Allied Expeditionary Forces.”

As the Joint Chiefs of Staff are probably already aware, the question of arming the resistance groups has become an important political issue in the eyes of all Frenchmen, wherever located, and the impression seems to have gained general credence that what is being done in this field is being done by the British and that the United States not only has played no part in the matter but is even opposed to arming the “underground” for political reasons.

Consequently, I was glad to note from your letter of February 17 that the American Joint Chiefs of Staff have endeavored to emphasize the fact that the United States and British supplies are provided and distributed under the direction of the Supreme Commander, Allied Expeditionary Forces. However it is equally clear from the statement from the British Embassy quoted above, that the British are desirous of keeping the matter as much as possible in their own hands, thereby gaining credit in the eyes of the French and lending the appearance of truth to the claim that this Government is indifferent if not actually hostile to the resistance groups in France. It is for this reason that this Department is particularly interested in being informed of the decision which may ultimately be taken by the Combined Chiefs of Staff and is hopeful that their decision will make it possible for us to counteract some of the unfriendly comment which is now being directed against this Government.

Sincerely yours,

Cordell Hull
  1. Letter of Mr. Michael Wright, First Secretary of the British Embassy, not printed.
  2. Secret Operations Executive.
  3. Presumably a reference to the Office of Strategic Services.