265 General J. C. Smuts, South African Prime Minister, to Mr R. G. Menzies, Prime Minister

Cablegram unnumbered PRETORIA, 23 May 1940, 9.15 a.m.


Following telegram has been sent to the Prime Minister of Great Britain [1]:-

I have seen Menzies' message to you regarding the appeal to Roosevelt. [2] I await your advice as to my making independent representations to Roosevelt. Meanwhile my reactions are as follows:-

Information at my disposal does not make it clear that there is real danger of immediate occupation of the Channel ports or of the French collapse. Roosevelt is possibly in the same difficulty. He may think that we are exaggerating or panicky or simply trying to inveigle him into taking action in a case where the necessity is not clear to him or to his people. There is the risk that he may decline or play for time until the desperateness of the situation is clearer than now. It is therefore for you to judge whether such an appeal is opportune or perhaps still premature. However I await your advice.

This telegram repeated to Australia, Canada and New Zealand.

1 Winston S. Churchill.

2 Document 261.

[FA: A3195, 1.3511]