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

Cablegram 435 LONDON, 17 June 1940, 11.04 p.m.

MOST SECRET FOR THE PRIME MINISTER

Following is memorandum referred to in No. 434. [1]

1. Before declaration [2] was prepared the decision was that United Kingdom should relieve France from her obligation not to seek a separate peace provided that position of French fleet was safeguarded.

2. I feel that it would be more than a mistake to revert to that decision now that the change of Government has prevented acceptance of declaration.

3. I believe the right course would be to hold French to their obligation and publish to French people and to the world immediately the term[s] of the declaration showing what we were prepared to do and how far we were prepared to go [to] help the French.

4. If we do this making clear declaration was prepared at the request and with the assent of leader of the French, it would rally the stalwarts of France and possibly lead to some further delay by resistance in Southern France, giving time for transference of troops and equipment to North Africa, the preservation of the fleet and continuance of resistance in Colonies.

5. If we assent even with a safeguard on the fleet which would be doubtful of realisation Frenchmen who may still desire to hold out will be compelled to come into line. We will be accused of deserting French or at all events that their collapse was due to our lack of support. Having acquiesced we will also have weakened our position if and when we have to impose grave sufferings on French by our blockade and bombing of their country.

BRUCE

1 Document 396.

2 See Document 391.

[FA: A3195, 1.4379]