No. 337  NAI DFA Secretary's Files A2

Memorandum by Joseph P. Walshe
'Termination of M. de Laforcade's Tenure of Office'

DUBLIN, 5 November 1943

I saw M. de Laforcade in my office on Wednesday, 3rd November. I told him that our Minister at Vichy had been officially informed that he, M. de Laforcade, had ceased to be Minister of France in Ireland since 27th September. Having thus been informed through the official channel, we were obliged to take cognisance of the fact and to inform him that he could no longer be regarded or treated as French Minister. I also informed him that we had been officially notified, through the same channel, that M. Cauvet-Duhamel1 had been appointed Chargé d'Affaires and that we recognised him as such.

M. de Laforcade was expecting this dénouement, as I had told him several times during his recent visits that his equivocal situation as Minister of France and Representative of the North African Committee could not possibly continue. It was a stupid, almost a comical, situation. The North African Committee was recognised as a Government by no country, and therefore could not conceivably be represented by a Minister. After his declaration that he took his instructions from Vichy, the only logical course to adopt was to resign at once. However, he had not done that, and I was very sorry that we, on our side, had to take the initiative of informing him that he was no longer Minister.

To my surprise, M. de Laforcade told me that M. Cauvet-Duhamel might not now agree to become Chargé d'Affaires. I reminded him that at the very beginning of the crisis he had informed me that Cauvet-Duhamel would accept the post. He had even added that Sir John Maffey and Mr. Gray thought that that would be the best solution to avoid a local scandal.

M. de Laforcade said that all that was perfectly true but unfortunately, in the last few days, he had received instructions from Algiers to the effect that Cauvet-Duhamel could not be Chargé d'Affaires if at the same time he was going to be loyal to the Committee.

I remarked that it was indeed most regrettable that the British Government had held up the telegrams destined for his Legation. It was not really helping him at all. Quite the contrary. However, I felt very strongly that he and his friends should insist with Algiers on the acceptance of the post by CauvetDuhamel. So far as we were concerned, we would certainly accept Albertas,2 the Naval Attaché, if the French Government wished to nominate him. It would be impossible for us to continue in this embarrassing situation just because Albertas might cause a little disturbance in the Allied dovecot in Dublin. It would be our business to see (according to our normal policy) that Albertas was not in a position to injure in any way the British or Allied cause. It was now a matter for him (M. de Laforcade) to persuade his people in Algiers to leave well enough alone.

I told M. de Laforcade that I wanted to see M. Cauvet-Duhamel in the afternoon so that I could hear from himself what his attitude was. I should then be in a position to inform the French Government, through Mr. Seán Murphy, of the situation.

I saw M. Cauvet-Duhamel at 3.30. I found him vague and undecided. But he had such a horror of the possibility of Albertas being appointed Chargé d'Affaires that he decided to act until he was otherwise instructed by Algiers.

I informed our Minister in Vichy of the situation by telegram sent on 4th November.3

On Wednesday, 4th also, I had a visit from M. Lestocquoy,4 the Commercial Attaché of the Legation. He has always been the most logical and the most honourable member of the French officials in this country. From the beginning, he has regarded de Gaulle as a subversive force in France, and he feels confirmed in his view by recent events. He has been a supporter of Giraud, as he believes that only a man of Giraud's type could save France.

He told me that Cauvet-Duhamel had not yet made up his mind about accepting the post of Chargé d'Affaires. I said that, whatever his mental attitude was, he was now, so far as we were concerned, Chargé d'Affaires and his Government had been so informed. I had a long chat with Lestocquoy, and I urged him to persuade Cauvet-Duhamel to remain at his post and (with the help of the British if necessary) to urge upon Algiers the necessity of allowing the present modus vivendi to stand.

M. Lestocquoy, like the other two, regarded Albertas as a source of infinite trouble, and he also was determined to prevent his nomination if possible.

I met M. de Laforcade at lunch today at the house of the Belgian Minister.5 The latter treated him as Minister and put him in the place of honour. However, M. Goor informed me at the end of lunch that he had only just heard the news from M. de Laforcade that he was no longer Minister, and a little later the latter came over to us and said that he was going to leave the Legation before the end of the month and go into a furnished house. M. de Laforcade requested urgently that I should reply immediately to his letter of 9th September informing us that he was accepting instructions from Algiers.

1 Benjamin Frederick Cauvet-Duhamel, Secretary, French Legation to Ireland (1937-44), appointed Chargé d'Affaires after de Laforcade's siding with de Gaulle and the Free French in September 1943. Cauvet-Duhamel was in fact one of the first members of the French Legation to secretly associate himself with General de Gaulle. He remained Chargé d'Affaires until late August 1944. With the collapse of the Vichy government, de Laforcade was recognised by Dublin as French Minister to Ireland.

2 Captain H. E. Albertas, French Naval Attaché in Dublin (1941-4), pro-Vichy and anti-British, was sent to Dublin by Vichy to keep watch on de Laforcade.

3 Not printed.

4 Eugene Lestocquoy, Commercial Attaché, French Legation, Dublin (1932-48).

5 Maurice Goor, Belgian Consul General, Dublin (1923-38), Belgian Minister to Ireland (1938-45).

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