No. 206 NAI DFA Paris Embassy 19/34A

Extract from a confidential report from Seán Murphy to Joseph P. Walshe (Dublin)

Ascain, 28 June 1940

[matter omitted]

In so far as concerns General de Gaulle,1 no formal statement has, as far as I am aware, been made in regard to his activities, apart from a declaration made over the Radio on the 18th June. A decree putting him on the retired list as Colonel, was taken by the Government on the 23rd inst., and on the same date he was charged in court martial for desertion. The text of the radio statement and the newspaper reports of the subsequent action taken in respect of him, are contained on the attached sheet marked A.2

Apart from the specific replies to Mr. Churchill's allegations, a tendency is noticeable in the official comments to diminish the importance of the assistance which France received in prosecuting the war from Great Britain. Marshal Pétain in his second speech last week said in dealing with the reasons which had involved the French Government's seeking terms, that whereas in 1918 there were 85 British divisions in France, there were only 10 divisions present in May, 1940. M. Ybarnegaray in his speech to the ex-combatants on the 25th inst. stated that France had been 'betrayed by one ally' (Belgium) 'and abandoned by another'. M. Jean Prouvost3 in his statement to the American press referred to the fact that successive French Governments had since the outbreak of war, called the attention of the British Government to the difficulty of keeping Frenchmen of 48 years of age mobilised, while classes over the age of 28 were not mobilised in Great Britain. He also referred to the fact that 26 British divisions should have come to France at the outbreak of war. Marshal Pétain in his speech on the 25th inst., referring to the battle of Flanders and the presence of English and French divisions, said simply 'these latter' (i.e. the French) 'fought bravely'.

PS. Since the above was written, I have seen the text of an official statement issued by the Government Information Service at Bordeaux in regard to the position of General de Gaulle and other Frenchmen abroad who set themselves up in opposition to the French Government. The text of this statement is contained on the attached sheet marked B.4 This statement seems not to have been reproduced in the majority of the press.

1 General Charles de Gaulle (1890-1970), appointed Under Secretary of State for National Defence and War by Reynaud (6 June 1940) and placed in charge of Anglo-French military co-ordination. Opposed France's surrender to Germany and on 16 June 1940 proposed a political union between France and Britain to last for the duration of the war. Fled France on 17 June 1940 and established and later led the Free French Forces (1940-4). De Gaulle's radio appeal of 18 June called on the French people to resist the occupation of France and work against the Vichy government. Became Prime Minister of the French Provisional Government (1944-6), Prime Minister of France (1958-9), President of France (1959-69).

2 Not printed.

3 Jean Prouvost (1885-1978), French newspaper publisher, Minister for Information (June-July 1940).

4 Not printed.

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