369 Mr S. M. Brute, High Commissioner in London, to Mr R. G. Menzies, Prime Minister

Cablegram 411 LONDON, 13 June 1940, [12.20 a.m.] [1]


The situation has deteriorated disastrously. After the meagre information of the last two days, full reports to hand today. The position as I see it is that the Germans have followed up tank thrust towards Rouen and have established strong forces on the south bank of the Seine in the region of Vernon. Driving south of Rethel they have crossed the Marne at Chalons; only advance forces across here but every indication that position will be consolidated. This means that the Germans across the River obstacle both to the west and east of Paris and pressing from north French troops covering Paris. In my view the French win be unable to hold pincer movement from east and west converging on point south of Paris, with the result that, if the French endeavour to hold Paris, Armies will be in danger of being cut off and captured. Have some doubts even if decided to abandon Paris serious losses in face of pincer movement from east and west. The seriousness of the position cannot be exaggerated. Owing to the rapidity of the German following up of tank thrust towards Rouen some 8,000 British of the 51st Division and the greater part of two French Divisions have been forced to surrender in the Le Havre Peninsula.

The Prime Minister [2] returned from Paris and meeting later this evening to hear result of his visit.


1 This cablegram was drafted on the evening of 12 June. The time of dispatch has been inserted from the copy on file AA: A41/1/1, x.

2 Winston S. Churchill.

3 The number has been inserted from the Prime Minister's Dept inward cable register (FA: A3635).

[FA: A3195, [1.4205] [3]]