The British Prime Minister ( Churchill ) to President Roosevelt 24
We have not yet heard what Vichy has agreed to.
If, however, they have betrayed warships and African and other Colonial harbours to Hitler, our already heavy task will be grievously aggravated. If Oran and Bizerta become German-Italian submarine bases, our hopes of stopping or impeding the reinforcement of the hostile army now attacking Egypt will be destroyed, and the heaviest form of German-organized Italian attack must be expected. The situation in the Western Mediterranean will also be gravely worsened. If Dakar is betrayed, very great dangers will arise in the Atlantic unless we are able to rectify the position, which will not be easy.
On the other hand, the announcement of Vichy’s terms may lead to much desired revolt in the French Empire, which we should have to aid and foster with further drains upon our slowly expanding resources.
Either way, therefore, immense exertions will be required from us in the Mediterranean during the next year.
We are endeavouring to assemble a very large army in the Middle East, and the movement of troops thither from all parts of the Empire, especially from the Mother country, has for some months past been unceasing. The campaign which will develop there certainly in the new year, and which may involve Turkey and Greece, makes demands upon our shipping and munitions output and resources which are enormous and beyond our power without your help to supply to a degree which would ensure victory.
All the time we have to provide for the defence of the island against invasion which is fully mounted and for which sixty of the best German divisions and superior Air Forces stand ready.
Lastly the U–boat and air attacks upon our only remaining life line, the northwestern approach, will be repelled only by the strongest concentration of our flotillas.
You will see, therefore, Mr. President, how very great are our problems and dangers. We feel, however, confident of our ability, if we are given the necessary supplies, to carry on the war to a successful conclusion, and anyhow we are going to try our best.
You will, however, allow me to impress upon you the extreme urgency of accelerating delivery of the programme of aircraft and [Page 17] other munitions which has already been laid before you by Layton24a and Purvis. So far as aircraft is concerned, would it be possible to speed up deliveries of existing orders so that the numbers coming to our support next year will be considerably increased? Furthermore can new orders for expanded programme also be placed so promptly that deliveries may come out in the middle of 1941?
The equipment of our armies, both for home defence and overseas, is progressing, but we depend upon American deliveries to complete our existing programme which will certainly be delayed and impeded by the bombing of factories and disturbances of work.
A memorandum on the technical details is being furnished you through the proper channels,25 and having placed all the facts before you I feel confident that everything humanly possible will be done. The world cause is in your hands.
- This message was sent by Sir Arthur Salter, Parliamentary Secretary, British Ministry of Supply, to Arthur B. Purvis, Director-General, British Purchasing Commission in the United States, who in turn transmitted it to Secretary of the Treasury Morgenthau with the request that it be conveyed to President Roosevelt.↩
- Sir Walter Thomas Layton, of the Office of Minister of Production, 1940–42.↩
- See the enclosure to this document.↩
- This memorandum attached to the Department’s file copy of the message of Prime Minister Churchill to President Roosevelt is presumably the “memorandum on the technical details” referred to in the last paragraph of that message.↩