Giraud's power in Algeria



Giraud's power in Algeria


Article headlines: Giraud's power in Algeria, U.S. promise before landing, Darlan's part, Dalrlan won over, agreement revived. Reviews history and the position of General Giraud in French North Africa after deal done with Lt-General Mark Clark of the United States after allied landings in North Africa..



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FEBRUARY 4 194[missing number]




From Our Own Correspondent


There is current here to-day a story, the general reliability of which there is no reason to doubt, which can stand as a footnote to what President Roosevelt said yesterday of the North African situation. It concerns particularly the position of General Giraud, who obviously has the unflinching support of Mr. Roosevelt. It goes back to the days before the allied landing in November, and it begins with the arrival by submarine in October of Lieutenant-General Mark Clark and his companions. Their purpose was to deal – and they did deal – with four associates of General Giraud in North Africa, to the end that political control in Algeria, Tunisia, and Morocco should be [missing letters]cured.

Lieutenant-General Clark made [missing letters]reements with these four officers which were so complete in detail that they even provided for the manner of payment of the American soldiers after their landing, but, what is most important, they conveyed the political direction of North African affairs to General Giraud, in whose name the officers were acting.

Some of what followed may be attributed to General Clark’s unwillingness to reveal the exact date chosen for the landing of the expeditionary force, which, he said, might be expected towards the end of November. Four days before its actual appearance, on November 8, General Giraud was warned to leave France, which he did at once. He arrived to find that Darlan and General Alphonse Juin had unexpectedly come to North Africa, and he placed them under arrest; he found also that preparations for the peaceful reception of the expedition had not everywhere been completed.


On that fateful November 8 some shots were fired by the Algerian garrison, but at Oran and Casablanca, in Morocco, resistance was serious, and General Giraud was forced to take political action. He had Darlan and Juin brought from gaol, persuaded them to throw in their lot with the allies, and lifted Darlan to political authority above his own in order that he might give the order to cease fire, which was issued and obeyed. General Giraud, says this account of events, accepted a subordinate post in order to save his American and British friends from further bloodshed at French hands.

Meanwhile Juin had been sent post-haste to Tunis. There he was successful in persuading the Resident-General, Admiral Esteva, to agree that the French warships there should fire upon any German landing forces which might be sent from Sicily, and he also won over General Barré, in command of the French land forces, all of which save two battalions were withdrawn to western Tunisia.

But Admiral René Platon, who had succeeded Darlan in command of the French home fleet, had apparently got wind of what was to occur. He flew from Vichy to Tunis and convinced Admiral Esteva that he should rescind his order to fire on the Germans. It was this, together with the fact that General Barré’s troops had moved westward, that made the rapid occupation of Tunis by the Axis possible. To it should be added, incidentally, that Yves Chatel, the Governor of Algeria, who had ostensibly come over to the allied side, nevertheless – in the apparent conviction that the Germans would attack through Spanish Morocco – continued to communicate with François Piétri, the Vichy Ambassador in Madrid, for which double-dealing he has since been removed by General Giraud.


In his place there is M. Peyrouton, for whose passage from Buenos Aires General Giraud had asked as early as the beginning of December. There is reason to believe that the State Department and Mr. Robert Murphy, in North Africa, argued against M. Peyrouton’s appointment, and that his [italics] visa [/italics] was delayed until an assurance was received that the authorities on the spot were acting with full knowledge. The point of importance is that the appointment was made by General Giraud, acting under the authority of the Giraud-Clark agreements, which were suspended during the brief primacy of Darlan, but have been revived and are understood to have been formally validated by the Casablanca conference.

The story as thus told is by no means a complete one, but it is not inconsistent with earlier events and with such later developments as the statement by General Giraud which President Roosevelt yesterday quoted with approval. There is, moreover, the declaration made to-day by Mr. Eden, of which the Secretary of State, Mr. Cordell Hull, this morning – at the moment knowing only its general effect – spoke with high approval.


“Giraud's power in Algeria,” IBCC Digital Archive, accessed July 24, 2024,

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