Editions:  Austria · Denmark · France · Germany · Italy · Norway · Spain · Sweden · Switzerland

Churchill feared France would declare war on UK

Share this article

Churchill feared France would declare war on UK
A 1940 telegram sold at auction in London on Sunday revealed that British Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill feared France was about declare war on Britain. Photo: Imperial War Musuems
08:38 CET+01:00
A 1940 telegram sold at auction in London on Sunday revealed that British Prime Minister Sir Winston Churchill feared France was about declare war on Britain, after a naval skirmish off the coast of Algeria.

Winston Churchill feared that France was about to declare war on Britain in 1940, according to a telegram sent from the British prime minister to governors of the colonies and sold at a London auction on Sunday.

The message, dated July 4 1940, was sent the day after Britain attacked the French fleet in west Algeria to prevent its assets from falling into enemy hands.

In the top-secret message, Churchill justified the raid, which claimed the lives of 1,297 French sailors.

"British naval forces morning 3rd July took up station outside Oran and asked the French naval authorities to take certain steps to prevent a number of important French naval units at this port from falling into German hands undamaged," he said in the telegram, published in the Times newspaper ahead of the auction.

"The French declined to take these steps. Heavy action ensued between British and French naval forces, with great and much regretted loss to the French.

"We cannot tell what the consequences may be, but every precaution should be taken in case the French declare war against us," he added.

Churchill feared that an armistice signed between the Nazis and France would leave the British Navy vulnerable.

The telegram was sold on Sunday for £1,600 (€1,900, $2,500), nearly 10 times more than its pre-sale estimate, according to auction house International Autographs Auction.

It was addressed to John Dill, Chief of the Imperial General Staff, and was sold by a family member, according to the Times.

The buyer was an English resident, the auction house said, without disclosing their identity.

Get notified about breaking news on The Local

Share this article

The Local is not responsible for content posted by users.
Become a Member or sign-in to leave a comment.

From our sponsors

Change the world with a master’s degree from Sweden’s Linköping University

Master’s students at world-leading Linköping University (LiU) aren’t there simply to study. They solve real-world problems alongside experts in fields that can create a better tomorrow. Do you have what it takes to join them?

Advertisement