740.0011 E.W./6–645: Telegram

The Acting Secretary of State to the Ambassador in France (Caffery)

2565. 1. Please deliver to General de Gaulle immediately the following communication to him from President Truman:36

2. “My dear General: You have by this time no doubt seen the message from this Government which was communicated to your Foreign Minister yesterday.37 I wish to appeal to you directly in this matter and to notify you with what great concern and how seriously I view the action of the 1st French Army in the Province of Guenon in northwest Italy.

3. This Army, under the command of General Eisenhower, the Supreme Allied Commander on the Western Front, ignored orders issued to it to withdraw to the frontier in keeping with the arrangements for the occupation and organization of Allied Military Government in Italy under Field Marshal Alexander, the Allied Commander in Italy. More recently the following events have taken place: On May 30 General Doyen, commanding the French Army in the Alps sent a letter to General Crittenberger, commanding the U.S. IV Corps in Northwestern Italy, referring to an attempt to establish Allied Military Government in the Province of Cuneo. The letter ends with the following paragraph:

4. ‘France cannot consent that a modification against her will would be made in the existing state of affairs in the Alps Maritimes. This would be contrary to her honor and her security. I have been ordered by the Provisional Government of the French Republic to occupy and administer this territory. This mission being incompatible with the installation of an Allied military agency in the same region, I find myself obliged to oppose it. Any insistence in this direction would assume a clearly unfriendly character, even a hostile character and could have grave consequences.’

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5. On June 2 General Grettenberger received another letter from General Doyen referring to his previous letter. Following is the text:

6. ‘I have sent to General Join simultaneously copy of the letter I asked Major Rogers to deliver to you. I beg to let you know that I have just been notified of the full approval given by the Chief of the Provisional Government of the French Republic.

7. ‘General de Gaulle has instructed me to make as clear as possible to the Allied Command that I have received the order to prevent the setting up of Allied Military Government in territories occupied by our troops and administered by us by all necessary means without exception.’

8. This constitutes a very blunt statement of the intention of the French Government to maintain its forces contrary to the order of the Allied Supreme Commander and in direct contravention of the principles which I accept, and I know you will agree, as representing the best interests of all Allied Governments in preserving a hard won peace, namely the avoidance of military action to accomplish political ends.

9. The messages above referred to also contain the almost unbelievable threat that French soldiers bearing American arms will combat American and Allied soldiers whose efforts and sacrifices have so recently and successfully contributed to the liberation of France itself.

10. Indeed, this action comes at the time of the very anniversary of our landings in Normandy which set in motion the forces that resulted in that liberation.

11. The people of this country have only the friendliest motives and feelings toward France and its people, but I am sure that they would be profoundly shocked if they were made aware of the nature of the action which your military officers, presumably with your personal approval, have threatened to take. Before I acquaint the people of the United States with this situation, I beg of you to reconsider the matter, withdraw your troops from the area and await an orderly and rational determination of whatever ultimate claims your Government feels impelled to make. Such action cannot fail to advance rather than reduce the prestige of France and at the same time operate to the immediate advantage and welfare of the French people.

12. While this threat by the French Government is outstanding against American soldiers, I regret that I have no alternative but to issue instructions that no further issues of military equipment or munitions can be made to French troops. Rations will continue to be supplied. Signed. Harry S. Truman.”

  1. The message was delivered the afternoon of June 7, 1945.
  2. See supra.