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

Cablegram 461 LONDON, 23 June 1940, 2.40 p.m.

MOST IMMEDIATE FOR THE PRIME MINISTER MOST SECRET

Full information re terms in Dominion Office telegrams. [1] Position appears to be Petain Cabinet completely demoralised and some members probably double-crossing, in particular the Minister for Foreign Affairs [2], and it can no longer be relied on in any way. Darlan [3] possible exception and message has been sent to him and also to United Kingdom Senior Naval Officers communicating with opposite numbers. In view of developments [4] decided to hold ships in British ports. All possible action now being taken to get hold of others by 'force or persuasion'. Most important are battle cruisers in Western Mediterranean and new battleships Richelieu and Jean Bart.

Am most concerned with regard to the position in the Mediterranean in the event of capitulation in the French colonies and the lack of imagination being shown here in handling it. As efforts to stimulate energetic action have failed, High Commissioners for Canada [5], South Africa [6], and I, have now written formally urging special missions with first-class personnel should be sent immediately to Morocco, Algeria, Tunis, Syria, with full powers, financial and otherwise, accompanied, if possible, by influential Frenchmen, e.g. Mandel [7], to stimulate cooperation with local authorities in carrying on resistance.

BRUCE

1 See cablegrams Z143 and Z147 of 22 and 23 June 1940 on file AA:

A981, France 3, ii.

2 Paul Baudouin.

3 French Minister of Marine.

4 Article 8 of the German armistice terms demanded that the French fleet, except for units required to safeguard the French colonial empire, should be demobilised and disarmed under German or Italian control. On 22 June 1940 Darlan ordered French naval vessels (including the battleships Paris and Courbet) in British ports to sail to Dakar. (See cablegram Z145 of 23 June, on file AA:

CP290/6, 65.) 5 Vincent Massey.

6 S. F. Waterson.

7 French Minister of the Interior May-June 1940.

[AA: A1608, A41/1/1, ix]