Franklin D. Roosevelt

Informal Announcement of the Attack on Sicily at a State Dinner in Honor of General Giraud

July 09, 1943

I have just had word of the first attack against the soft underbelly of Europe.

I am going to ask you not to say anything about it after you leave here, until midnight ends.

American and British forces, and some French observers, have attacked and landed in Sicily. The operations have just begun, and we won't get definite news until later in the day, but the news will be coming in all the time from now on.

This is a good illustration of the fact of planning, not the desire for planning but the fact of planning, which we have had since the administration began over a year ago in Washington. With the commencing of the expedition in North Africa with complete cooperation between the British and ourselves, that was followed by complete cooperation with the French in North Africa. The result, after landing, was the Battle of Tunis; and we all know the number of prisoners we took. That was not all planning, that was cooperation. From that time on we have been working in complete harmony, which in effect was the invasion of Europe, which is under way tonight.

There are a great many objectives, and of course the major objective is the elimination of Germany— that goes without saying—the elimination of Germany out of the war. And as a result of this step which is in progress at this moment, we hope it is the beginning of the end. Last autumn, the Prime Minister of England called it "the end of the beginning." I think you can almost say that this action tonight is the beginning of the end.

We are going to be ashore in a naval sense- air sense- military. Once there, we have the opportunity of going in different directions, and I want to tell General Giraud that we haven't forgotten France as one of the directions.

One of our prime aims, of course, is the restoration of the people of France, and the sovereignty of France. Even if a move is not directed at this moment to France itself, General Giraud can rest assured that the ultimate objective- we will do it, and in the best way—is to liberate the people of France, not merely the southern part of France, just for a while, but the people of northern France—Paris.

And in this whole operation, I should say rightly that in the enormous planning we have had the complete cooperation of the French military and naval forces in North Africa. Gradually the opposition cooled, and the older regime is breaking down. We have seen what has happened, or is happening at the present moment in Martinique and Guadeloupe, and becoming worse. Well, that is a very major part toward the big objective. It is going to be worth working for. The Navy, the Army, the merchant ships of Martinique, I hope, will be working with us day in and day out toward the unity of all of our forces.

We haven't won the war yet, but one of the happy things is that with the help of General Giraud, in command of the French forces in North Africa, we have got a unified military situation. Well, that goes a long way; and that is why ever since my friend and I met at Casablanca last January, I became perfectly sure that under General Giraud's leadership the French military and naval forces in North Africa would more and more work with us, as we have done—not all we want—to help rearm those French forces, and to build up the French strength so that when the time comes, from a military point of view, when we get into France itself and throw the Germans out, there will be a French Army and French ships working with the British and ourselves. That is why it is a very great symbol that General Giraud is here tonight—to come over here to talk to us about his military problems, toward the same objective that all the United Nations have gone—the freedom of France, and with it the unity of France.

So I think everybody here is very happy to drink with me to the success, health, and happiness of General Giraud.

Franklin D. Roosevelt, Informal Announcement of the Attack on Sicily at a State Dinner in Honor of General Giraud Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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