50 Cranborne to Curtin

Cablegram D348 LONDON, 26 February 1945, 2.25 p.m.

TOP SECRET

My telegram of 21st February D No. 320. [1]

Following for the Prime Minister.

General Anders [2] has informed us that he is much concerned as to the future position of his troops in the light of decisions of the Crimea Conference relating to Poland. He pointed out that he and they have sworn allegiance to the Polish Government in London who might refuse to release them from their oath. The situation might therefore arise in future in which Polish forces who have fought under our Command, or elements of these forces, might be unwilling or might, indeed, not be permitted to return to Poland. He asked what reassurances could be given them as to their future. This was important if their morale was to be maintained.

2. We have been considering what could be done to meet his difficulties. The Poles can, of course, be assured that they will have a part in occupation of Germany in the British zone and this should safeguard their position for a period of some years. It is, however, necessary to envisage the possibility that such an assurance will not wholly satisfy them. The Poles may feel that the possibility of difficulties arising later cannot be wholly excluded and some assurance of a more permanent character may therefore prove to be necessary.

3. One possibility which has been suggested is that we might give an undertaking that any of the Polish troops who have fought on our side in Western Europe or any elements of them who might be unwilling, or might find it impossible eventually to return to Poland under the new conditions, should be enabled to become British subjects and thus to receive treatment accorded to members of the United Kingdom Forces who have rendered equal service.

There is some precedent for this in the provision made in Section 4 of the British Nationality and Status of Aliens Act 1943 as to special naturalisation of French Nationals who have served in His Majesty's Forces, though the position in the two cases is, of course, not identical. Any such course, if it were decided upon would involve amendment of the Nationality Law and would accordingly require general agreement of all British Commonwealth Governments. It is not possible to give an estimate of the number of persons who might be affected by any such arrangement but the Polish Ambassador [3] informed us not long ago that the total number of Polish citizens of all kinds who might be unwilling or unable to return to Poland was approximately 60,000 and the number might in fact prove to be of the nature of 100,000.

4. We should be grateful for the general views of the Dominion Governments on this question. It will be appreciated that no definite decision is at present required since the whole matter is still under consideration. It would, however, be very helpful if we could know how the idea mentioned above strikes you.

1 Document 41.

2 Acting Commander-in-Chief, Polish Fighting Forces.

3 Count Edward Raczynski.

[AA:A1066, E45/24/7]