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Editorial Note on Control of Free French Forces
Since the Casablanca Conference, negotiations had continued between Charles de Gaulle, head of the French National Committee in London, and Henri Giraud, French commander in chief in North Africa, over the unification and political control of all anti-Axis French forces. On June 3 they announced the formation of a French Committee of National Liberation with themselves as co-presidents. De Gaulle, however, insisted that ultimate control of the committee’s armed forces be left to him as minister of war, and when this was not approved, he submitted his resignation to the committee on June 10. This turmoil, which involved not only French domestic politics but military arrangements with the Allies, immediately created for Allied Force Headquarters and Eisenhower difficult diplomatic issues, especially as President Roosevelt was determined that de Gaulle should not gain control of Dakar or of French forces in North Africa. (Information on these events is in Department of State, Foreign Relations of the United States, 1943, 7 vols. [Washington: GPO, 1957-65], 2: 132-52; The Papers of Dwight David Eisenhower, ed. Alfred D. Chandler, Jr., et al., 21 vols. [Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1970-2001], #1050, #1054 [2: 1184-85, 1188-90].)
On June 16 Robert D. Murphy—who was “Operating Executive Head of the Civil Affairs Section and Advisor for Civil Affairs under General Eisenhower . . . with access to all military information” (see Murphy, Diplomat Among Warriors [Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday and Company, 1964], p. 106)—reported that he had just discovered that General Giraud had signed a number of decrees on June 7 that increased the French committee’s membership from seven to fourteen and that “in our opinion insures supremacy to de Gaulle.” Giraud insisted that his own understanding of the decrees had been different and that Jean Monnet, the committee’s minister of armaments, supplies, and reconstruction, had “betrayed” him by urging him to sign the documents. Murphy observed that it was “obvious to us that things have gone to Monnet’s head and that he feels as strongly as possible like de Gaulle that French rights and sovereignty must be more aggressively asserted in respect of the Allies. He also seems to feel he can control the Committee whereas it is increasingly clear that he is being used by de Gaulle and will probably later be discarded.” De Gaulle had withdrawn his resignation, but Giraud was now threatening to retire. (Murphy’s Radio No. 1108 in Foreign Relations of the United States, 1943, 2: 152-53.) Murphy’s Radio No. 1109 of the same day described Giraud’s proposals for a French high command organization that would permit him to retain control of the military forces. (Ibid., pp. 153-55.)
Recommended Citation: ThePapers of George Catlett Marshall, ed.Larry I. Bland and Sharon Ritenour Stevens(Lexington, Va.: The George C. Marshall Foundation, 1981- ). Electronic version based on The Papers of George Catlett Marshall, vol. 4, “Aggressive and Determined Leadership,” June 1, 1943-December 31, 1944 (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1996), pp. 19-20.