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(From 'The Biographical Dictionary of World War II', Mark M.Boatner III. Presidio 1999. Pp 381-382)

Robert Daniel Murphy was a US Diplomat. He lived from 1894 until 1978.

The tall, affable, cosmopolitan "diplomat among warriors" was the grandson of German and Irish immigrants and son of a railroad section hand. (166) Born 28 October 1894 in Milwaukee, he entered the consular service in 1920 after putting himself through night law school and being admitted to the DC bar. From 1930 he was US Consul in Paris, serving under three ambassadors. The last of these, BULLITT, made Murphy his deputy and counsellor of embassy. When the French government fled south on 10 June 1940, BULLITT and Murphy remained in Paris until 30 June. The ambassador then decided against presenting his credentials to the Pétain government and Murphy became chargé d'affaires at Vichy.

Suddenly summoned to Washington in September he was briefed by Roosevelt for a special mission: to explore the possibility of winning covert French support in North Africa for a US liberation. (Murphy, Diplomat, 70.) He got back to Vichy during the crisis leading to LAVAL's dismissal. Because of this Murphy did not have clearance for his visit until 18 December, 1940. before Admiral Leahy arrived as ambassador. (FDR was undertaking what came to be called his "Vichy gamble" - backing the Pétain government that Churchill spurned.)

But the career diplomat took only three weeks to accomplish what the State Department expected would require three months. Leaving Algiers on 5 January, 1941 for Lisbon, Murphy cabled a report from there 12 days later and included a draft of what became the Murphy-Weygand Agreement. This authorized the US to distribute food and clothing in North Africa and send 20 American observers to counterbalance 20 Germans of the armistice commission.

Murphy then spent almost two years directing what Macmillan accurately characterised as "a large-scale and ambitious Fifth Column operation" (Macmillan, Blast, 189; Murphy, 109 ff). Because Murphy was not permitted to tell his French collaborators when and where the landings would occur, the clandestine meeting near Cherchell on 22 October, 1942 may have done more harm than good (Murphy, 119). With no appreciation of the military problems involved but fully aware of how critical it was to have French co-operation, Murphy consequently recommended that the invasion be delayed several weeks. This brought much well-justified criticism of the frazzled fifth columnist (Clark, Calculated Risk, 91-92; Pogue, Marshall, II, 399).

It was Murphy who picked Giraud as the flagpole around which pro-Allied French commanders in North Africa were supposedly to rally in welcoming the American liberators. Although highly recommended to Murphy by Bethouart, Mast and other high-ranking French whose judgement should have been reliable, Giraud proved useless on African D-Day (8 November, 1942).

With presidential authority since 17 October "to initiate any arrangement with Darlan which in my judgement might assist the military operation" (Murphy, 129), the diplomat was closely involved in the Darlan "deal." When Harold Macmillan arrived as Murphy's British counterpart he thought Murphy should have been recalled. "Apart from being physically and mentally somewhat exhausted by two exceptionally heavy years, he was in a dangerously compromised position." after having had to work with "many unreliable and disreputable agents, as well as keen but sometimes over-enthusiastic patriots" (Blast, 189-90). But it was not until de Gaulle established himself in July 1943 that the American diplomat asked for reassignment.

Murphy became the president's personal representative on Italian affairs as the Allied invasion of Sicily was about to begin. Fourteen months later, on 4 September, 1944, Murphy reached Washington to be briefed for a new post as Eisenhower's advisor on German affairs.


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