183 Commonwealth Government to Cranborne

Cablegram 128 CANBERRA, 5 June 1944


The Australian Government has consistently paid close attention to French affairs, fully sharing your own view that the restoration of a strong and friendly France is a major interest of the British Commonwealth. Further we are vitally interested in New Caledonia and are on the closest terms of friendship with the Committee of National Liberation.

2. With these objects before us we have watched the development of current Allied policy towards the French with some uneasiness.

3. All the information which we have received from you, notably the reports of Messrs. Macmillan [1] and Duff Cooper [2], confirms the impression that the French Committee of National Liberation has largely secured the support of those elements within France itself which will have political significance after France's liberation. We had accordingly assumed that in order to obtain complete collaboration in the prosecution of the war and to secure French goodwill in the post-war period, the Committee's development into a French provisional Government would have Allied encouragement and support.

4. We gather that present policy contemplates no more than the appointment of the Committee's nominees as civil affairs officers in liberated French areas under the authority of the Allied Commander-in-Chief (D.669 of 3rd May [3]). We can see future difficulties both in the choice by the French people of their ultimate form of Government, and in the 'establishment of law and order' by the Committee as envisaged by Mr. Hull in his statement of 9th April [4] and approved by Mr. Eden in the House of Commons on 3rd May unless the Committee has in the meantime been recognised as the provisional government.

5. We also do not appreciate the implications of Mr. Churchill's statement of 24th May [5] that the United Kingdom and United States Governments are unable to recognise the Committee because of doubt whether it represents the French nation. We fear that comparisons are bound to be drawn between this policy and the readiness with which recognition was accorded to certain emigre governments which, as in the case of Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia, Poland and Belgium, are scarcely representative of their peoples and, in some cases were formed from patriots in exile like the Committee itself.

6. While we fully appreciate the necessity for parallel policy with the United States in this matter the present attitude of reserve towards the Committee seems inconsistent with the declared policy towards France and we would welcome any information you may be able to give us prior to and during the proposed conversations with General de Gaulle. [6]

1 U.K. Minister Resident at Allied Force Headquarters, Mediterranean Command.

2 U.K. Representative with the French Committee of National Liberation.

3 In AA:A3195, 1944, 1.16863.

4 The text of Hull's broadcast is in U.S. Department of State Bulletin, vol. 10, no. 251, 15 April 1944, pp. 335-42.

5 House of Commons, Parliamentary Debates, fifth series, vol. 400, col. 780.

6 De Gaulle, President of the French Committee of National Liberation, was then in London, having accepted an invitation from Churchill to discuss the administration of France behind the advancing Anglo-American armies.

[AA:A989, 44/350/2/2, iii]