No. 249  NAI DFA Secretary's Files P12/1

Memorandum by Joseph P. Walshe

DUBLIN, 27 and 28 November 1942

The French Minister, M. de Laforcade, called today to inform me that he had received last evening a telegram from Admiral Darlan...

[matter omitted]

He said that he was beginning to feel very doubtful about the whole situation, and he enquired what his position would be if he accepted Darlan while our Minister was still in Vichy.

I told him that I hoped he would not put us face to face with such an embarrassing problem. The whole situation was bound to become clearer within the next few days, and it would be a pity if he decided to take action now. Moreover, we were asking Mr. Murphy for the opinion of the diplomatic corps in Vichy as to their future, and I would certainly keep him au courant as far as possible with opinion in Vichy.

The French Minister insisted that he had to make some kind of reply to Darlan or run the risk of falling between two stools and becoming nobody's child, and eventually he decided to send a telegram to Rabat asking for a repeat of the telegram received, the text of which was not quite clear. He would further enquire from Rabat in what cypher he was to communicate with Darlan. He knew that, in communicating at all with Darlan, or even with Rabat in relation to a communication with Darlan, he was running some risk of being dismissed by Vichy. He suggested that he should not make any official démarche to our Government, but should instead send Darlan a reply in the following terms:-

"Représentant France dans pays trés ami je ne puis parler qu'au nom d'un Gouvernement reconnu par celui de ce pays. Admirant oeuvre de redressement du Maréchal et douloureusement sympathique dans épreuves, le Gouvernement Irlandais tient maintenir sa mission auprès de lui jusqu'au bout son calvaire et résurrection glorieuse en laquelle il partage notre foi. Il considérerait comme embarrassante notification officielle de situation de fait de notoriété publique dont il tiendrait naturellement compte cas échéant.1"

I promised to examine his text and talk to my Minister about it

Saturday, 28th November, 1942

I asked the French Minister to come back today and told him that I had been in touch with my Minister and that we suggested the following text as a reply to Darlan instead of that which he had shown me yesterday:-

"Représentant la France dans un pays neutre qui est resté toujours en relations avec le gouvernement á Vichy et qui est inspiré par une grande estime et une profonde affection pour notre patrie, je conseille la prudence la plus absolue á son égard. Le Gouvernement irlandais tout en tenant compte de la situation de fait dans l'Empire ne croit point devoir modifier son attitude sans avoir des renseignements beaucoup plus précis que ceux qui lui sont jusqu'ici parvenus. Entretemps je suis convaincu qu'une attitude d'attente a l'égard d'un pays qui pourrait nous Ítre d'un puissant renfort dans l'avenir est la politique qui s'impose. Pour les irlandais á cette distance les relations entre l'Empire et la Métropole sent loin d'être éclaircies."

He accepted the new text and said he would send it on Monday or Tuesday, 30th November or 1st December, if meanwhile he had received a reply from Rabat.

Of course, the taking of Toulon by the Germans and the scuttling of the French Fleet had made the situation still worse for him, and the likelihood of his remaining loyal to Vichy was now small.

He suggested also that, as the British and Americans were now quite certain to win the war, we should move away from Vichy and towards Darlan.

I urged him to be extremely prudent in his next moves. There was no doubt that the obscure situation between Vichy and North Africa would soon be cleared up. Of course, if the Marshal resigned and told the Germans that it was impossible for any Government to continue, the Legations would undoubtedly leave Vichy. I could not say whether the immediate alternative for us was to send the Legation to North Africa. We must at least wait until Darlan himself had decided to set up a Government there. It was very difficult for us to give him any idea of what our future attitude would be. I could, at any rate, give him the assurance that his position here would not be interfered with by us provided Vichy did not send another Minister in his stead. He would continue to enjoy his immunities, but we naturally hoped that he would not seek any Press publicity should he indeed take the final step of cutting himself off from Vichy.

[initialled] J. P. W.

1 This text has been reproduced as found in the original.

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