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

Cablegram 466 LONDON, 24 June 1940, 9.56 p.m.

IMMEDIATE FOR THE PRIME MINISTER MOST SECRET

War Cabinet now sitting to consider- (a) Future attitude towards the Petain Government;

(b) The question alternative authority which would represent non- acquiescence French opinion and concentrate on continued resistance, particularly in the Colonies;

(c) Representations by High Commissioners (my telegram No. 461).

[1] With regard to (a) attitude inclines to non-recognition on grounds that action contrary to the will of the French people and betrayal of nation's solemn obligation not to seek separate armistice or peace. This line would even raise question of the position of the French Ambassador [2] if acting under the orders of the Petain Government.

With regard to (b), although de Gaulle's [3] broadcasts have the approval and support of the United Kingdom Government, felt in some quarters that unless he is supported by well-known and influential Frenchmen his activities not likely to effect object of consolidating those in favour of continued resistance and might even do harm. Difficulty is to find those whose support would be valuable. Repudiation of Government (my telegram No. 442) [4] now unlikely and decision 'to carry Government' overseas (my telegram No. 451) [5] now dead.

Latest information is Herriot [6] and Reynaud [7] decided to remain in France.

With reference to French Fleet, no information yet as to results of 'force or persuasion' policy.

My telegram No. 443. [8] Have been promised full appreciation by Chiefs of Staff will be available tomorrow covering the points raised plus further one since submitted, namely, position in and plan for Middle East (a) if forces can be maintained in Palestine and Egypt;

(b) if they have to be withdrawn.

Cable 191. [9] Think most desirable you should express to Whiskard [10] hope that in view of the vital importance of Iceland no forces will be withdrawn even when further Canadians arrive unless absolutely sure that remaining troops ample to meet any contingency.

BRUCE

1 Document 424.

2 A. C. Corbin.

3 Leader of the Free French Movement.

4 Document 404.

5 On file AA: CP290/6, 60.

6 President of French Chamber of Deputies.

7 French Prime Minister 21 March-16 June 1940.

8 Document 403.

9 Document 423.

10 U.K. High Commissioner in Australia.

[AA: A981, FRANCE 54, ii]