404 Mr S. M. Bruce, High Commissioner in London, to Mr R. G. Menzies, Prime Minister

Cablegram [442] [1] LONDON, 18 June 1940, 10.20 p.m.

FOR THE PRIME MINISTER MOST SECRET PERSONAL

Every effort has been made last 24 hours to prevent the French fleet falling into German hands by urging it must be placed beyond Government control before German terms received. While assurances dishonouring terms would not be accepted (and surrender of the fleet is such a term) have been repeated it has been impossible to obtain any action. First Lord [2] and First Sea Lord [3] have gone to Bordeaux.

Anglo-French Declaration now published [4] and French Government, which would carry on in similar manner to Dutch, now appears a possibility. Difficult to forecast how this would come about, but might be [by] resignation of Petain Government on ground that terms unacceptable, followed by Government pledge to carry on the struggle, or by Government including Laval [5] and Flandin [6] which would accept terms. In latter event, Government would be repudiated under leadership of Herriot, President of the Chamber of Deputies, and Jeanneney, the President of the Senate, who would form a Government and carry on from somewhere outside France.

No definite information as to German attitude to the French Government's request, but Press indicate likely to be very drastic.

Spain. Latest reports far from reassuring and any appreciation of the future conduct of the war must envisage a hostile Spain. In separate cable I send certain questions to which I have asked for an answer. [7]

BRUCE

1 The copy of this cablegram circulated in Canberra was numbered 444. The correct number has been taken from Bruce's file copy on AA: M100, June 1940.

2 A. V. Alexander.

3 Admiral of the Fleet Sir Dudley Pound.

4 See Document 391, note 5.

5 French Prime Minister 1931-32 and 1934-36. He joined the Petain Govt as Minister of State and Vice-President of the Council of Ministers on 23 June 1940.

6 French Prime Minister 1934-35 and Foreign Minister in the Petain Govt between December 1940 and February 1941.

7 Document 403.

[FA: A3195, 1.4434]