6 Lord Caldecote, U.K. Secretary of State for Dominion Affairs, to Commonwealth Government

Cablegram 239 LONDON, 3 July 1940, 11.50 a.m.


[On 30 June 1940 the U.K. Govt informed the Commonwealth Govt in

cablegram D299 that it proposed to issue a declaration that it

could not allow Syria or Lebanon to be occupied or used as a haven

by any hostile power and that it held itself free to take any

measures necessary in its own interest. On 1 July the Commonwealth

Govt dispatched cablegram 338 which read in part: 'Have you

considered possibility of French troops becoming actively hostile

to us with consequent military repercussions of a serious kind to

our numerically inferior forces in that zone? Is it impossible to

get joint declaration with Turkey to defend Syria?' Both

cablegrams are on file AA: A981, War 45, iv.]

Before receipt of your telegram No. 338 of 1st July His Majesty's

Ambassador at Angora [1] had indicated that the Turkish Government

concurred in the draft of the declaration by the United Kingdom

Government and the declaration was thereupon issued at once.

Careful consideration had been given to the possible attitude of

the French troops in Syria. It is not expected in the present

circumstances they will become actively hostile to us. As regards

the suggestion in the last sentence of your telegram, although

Turkish co-operation in the defence of Syria and Lebanon might in

certain circumstances be welcome to us, the Arabs will inevitably

always be suspicious of the entry of Turkish forces into those

territories whatever the purpose. Turkey too would probably

require a reward for lending assistance. It was felt to be most

important therefore that nothing should be said now or later which

would give the slightest handle to propaganda that we had sought

to secure Turkish support for ourselves at the Arabs' expense. In

the circumstances it was thought to be better not to make an

approach to Turkey of the kind suggested in your telegram.

1 Sir Hughe Knatchbull-Hugessen.

[AA: A3195, 1940, 1.5013]