382 Mr S. M. Bruce, High Commissioner in London, to Mr R. G. Menzies, Prime Minister

Cablegram 426 LONDON, 14 June 1940


Dominions Office cable Z.108 [1] has given you the position as to possibility of continued French resistance. Roosevelt's message to Reynaud [2] was sent prior to his broadcast last night. Message regarded here as definite commitment and this confirmed by Washington decision not to publish at the moment on the grounds 'While views are for President, definite commitments can only be undertaken by Congress.' Reynaud's reaction to message not known or whether President will send further one in response to broadcast appeal.

Anticipated that Hitler on entry to Paris may broadcast his peace terms. Our reply is in my view of vital importance and I have been urging United Kingdom Government to give consideration to it but without success. Incurable reluctance to consider hypothetical cases. If terms are those of swashbuckling conqueror, answer is relatively easy, although in rejecting them it would probably be wise to make clear we are not only fighting for our own lives and liberty but for the world. Well done, this would help us in United States. More difficult position arises if terms are speciously reasonable and Hitler poses as great reconstructor and peacemaker.

Mere cart rejection, even if based on grounds that we cannot trust Hitler's word, not enough and might have bad repercussion on American public opinion. Most carefully framed declaration after consultation with Dominions, setting out our attitude in clearest and most convincing way imperative, but time for necessary consideration and consultation may not be available if we wait until after Hitler has spoken.

Further, I feel essential that we should fully consult with United States as to form of our reply to any offer, so that in the event of terms being outrageous we should have their agreement in our attitude, with possibly public endorsement by President, and in the event of their being specious then co-operation and agreement in our method of handling them.

In latter analysis the way might be opened for action by President down the lines suggested in my telegram to Casey 6th June. [3] Even if this were not possible, some way might be found by which President could call Hitler's bluff.

Apart from all other considerations, the great advantage to my mind of dose collaboration with the United States in regard to our attitude to any offer by Hitler is that their agreement to line we take binds them closer to us in continuing the struggle.

If you agree importance of reply to any offer by Hitler suggest that you should so cable emphasising necessity for full consultation. [4]


1 Document 377.

2 French Prime Minister.

3 Document 346.

4 Bruce repeated this cablegram to Casey, who in turn communicated its contents to Sumner Welles, U.S. Under-Secretary of State, on 15 June 1940. (See file AA: A3300, 47.) 5 The number has been inserted from the Prime Minister's Dept inward cable register (FA: A3635).

[FA: A3195, [1.4285] [5]]