20 SEPTEMBER 1940, Page 5

There is a good deal of perplexity about the five

French cruisers and other vessels which passed through the Straits of Gibraltar a few days ago and are said to have arrived at Dakar, the strategically important port in French West Africa. Since they were allowed unhindered passage through the Straits it might have been supposed they were intending to join General de Gaulle. But as their movements were announced by the Vichy Government, and they are thought to be now at Dakar, in a territory which has not declared for de Gaulle, that seems unlikely; it had been hoped that General de Gaulle's—or Admiral Muselier's—own ships might appear at Dakar and invite the colony's adhesion. It may be that the Admiralty let the cruisers pass the Straits on the ground that, with an Italian fleet to deal with in the Mediterranean, it was as well that possibly hostile French ships should be outside it.

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