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sumed that the 60,000 tons of shipping referred to in the telegram from the Secretary of State in Washington was a particular block of tonnage allocated for the carriage of urgent military supplies. In these circumstances His Majesty's Government did not feel (they ought] to take the responsibility of urging the allocation of this tonnage to Belgian Relief, although of course it is earnestly hoped that the United States Government observes [will], in addition to meeting their Army supply programme, be able also to provide the necessary assistance in tonnage to enable the Belgian Relief carrier [to carry] the minimum requirements of food-stuff, et cetera, to Rotterdam, and

in fact a request to this effect has recently been sent from Belgian Relief in London to America.

Mr. Balfour would be most grateful if Mr. Page would be so good as to telegraph to the United States Government in the above sense in order that there may be no misunderstanding on the part of the United States Government as to the attitude which His Majesty's Government are taking in regard to tonnage assistance for the Belgian Relief Commission.


File No. 103.95/560
The Ambassador in Great Britain (Page) to the Secretary of State

LONDON, May 12, 1918, 10 a. m.

[Received 9.24 p. m.] 10005. For Hurley 1 from Stevens:

The Allied Maritime Transport Council at its meeting at Paris May [April] 25, passed resolution providing that the necessary articles for revictualing the occupied districts in Belgium and northern France should be included in the program of the Wheat Executive, if that body consents. Under that resolution the Commission for Relief in Belgium is to use its own tonnage to the fullest capacity; any future tonnage necessary is to be found by the Associated Governments. The necessary arrangements with the Wheat Executive have not been completed, but the need of the populations in the occupied districts of Belgium and northern France is so critical that something must be done at once to meet this need.

I have been in constant conference with the British Minister of Shipping with a view to arriving at a temporary working agreement which will take care of the existing crisis. The result of these conferences is an agreement in principle that the British Government and the American Government are each to furnish one-half of the ships required in addition to those under the control of the C.R.B.


1 E. N. Hurley, Chairman of the United States Shipping Board.

’R. B. Stevens, American Representative on the Allied Maritime Transport Council.

The best permanent solution seems to be that the C.R.B. should have the first call on the 200,000 [tons] dead weight of non-warzone vessels to be acquired under the Swedish agreement. This would put the burden of meeting this service in equal proportion on America and Great Britain, as the Swedish tonnage will fall within the 50-50 agreement. Vessels secured under the Swedish agreement cannot, however, be depended upon to carry cargoes to Holland before late August or September.

As a temporary working arrangement for supplying the minimum requirements of the C.R.B. the British Government has agreed to the following program:

Immediate pressure is to be applied in order to secure for the C.R.B. the following seven vessels: Kronprins Gustaf Adolf and Pacific, now in United States ports; Kronprinsessan Margareta, Oscar Fredrik, Kronprins Gustaf, now in Sweden; Valparaiso, now at Buenos Aires; Tasmanic, now at New York.

It is estimated that these vessels can make ten voyages before September.

Great Britain will provide from ships under her control or by interchange arrangements with France and Italy, eight cargoes during the next three months, if America will agree to provide a similar number.

The most pressing immediate need is to take care of the necessary May loadings; nine ships to carry approximately 40,000 tons of foodstuffs will be required for this purpose. If Swedish vessels (1) Tasmanic, (2) Kronprins Adolf, (3) Pacific, can be secured, six additional vessels must be found. Great Britain will find three of these, leaving three for America to find.

In regard to June loadings, if Swedish vessels, (1) Kronprinsessan Margareta, (2) Kronprins Gustaf, (3) Oscar Fredrik, (4) Valparaiso can be secured, six further vessels must be found; Great Britain will arrange to provide three of these if America will arrange to provide the other three.

As regards July loadings this means three further cargoes can be loaded by the three Swedish vessels, which are to be loaded in May, making another voyage. This will leave four, of which Great Britain will provide two if America will provide the other two.

Mr. Poland, Director of the C.R.B. for Europe, states that the program set forth above is not sufficient to provide the approved minimum ration of the C.R.B., but it does provide the absolutely minimum amount of foodstuffs to be loaded in May. If the general principle that the ships needed by the C.R.B. shall be provided in equal shares by Great Britain and America is approved, the problem of meeting the deficit in June and July can be worked out later.

I most earnestly urge immediate and favorable action on their part and that the United States and Great Britain should provide in equal shares the ships needed for Belgian Relief. The ships for May loading should be assigned at once as the situation is very critical. Unless this is done the people of Belgium and northern France will starve.

Obviously the obligation to supply ships to Belgian Relief must be borne either by the United States or Great Britain, as these two countries have the most tonnage under their own flags and control most of the neutral tonnage. At the beginning of our negotiations the English insisted that America should provide all the ships for Belgian Relief. I have had great difficulty in securing agreement on their part to provide one-half the required tonnage in view of the aid in ships which England is giving to France and Italy and the losses she has sustained through the submarine campaign. I am satisfied that this proposal of sharing the burden of providing tonnage for Belgian Relief between Great Britain and the United States is the best solution possible.


File No. 855.48/742
The Ambassador in Great Britain (Page) to the Secretary of State

LONDON, May 13, 1918, 5 p. m.

[Received 10.56 p. m.] 10024. For Hoover [from Relief Commission]:

96. We are completely in accord your Washington, 53, that the decisions giving priority to Relief are useless unless backed by heads of Governments. Have therefore asked Monsieur Clemenceau to insist with Great Britain and United States that priority be established as a war measure and shall attempt similar action here. Since United States was party to priority decisions of conferences at Paris December 5 and April 23, Colonel House being present at former, we beg that United States in accord with decisions will also insist on practical application of priority as a war measure. Attitude here seems to be friendly, ready to proceed in accord with Paris resolution, if necessary ships are guaranteed to them immediately, otherwise they refuse responsibility. For the future we understand Ministry of Shipping believes it can afford to furnish one half amount of tonnage which they deem necessary to make up shortage, provided United States furnish other half. We are asked to beg to urge that United States agree to this original agreement, otherwise there ap

Not printed.

pears indicate refusal to concur in priority Relief cargoes at the expense of transport of men and munitions. If this position is taken by our War Department there is but one possible outcome, namely, starvation in Belgium. The respective Governments now have to decide as a matter of war policy whether the people are to be starved or fed; there is no middle course. Wheat to be [We are at] a complete impasse. In order to meet the critical requirements for May loading, in addition to the Pacific and Gustaf Adolf in United States, the British offer to allocate to the Relief three vessels, if the United States will furnish same tonnage. Our negotiations here are being rendered difficult by statement purporting to come from your office that 90,000 tons would be sufficient for Relief. This is entirely incorrect, for, on account of tonnage from the United Kingdom which must now be supplied from United States, we require 110,000 tons monthly of cargo plus 5,000 tons allowance lost space account general cargo together with 16,600 tons present bunker requirements to reduce to ship dead weight, making total monthly dead-weight ship requirements 132,000 tons against which, on account of reduction Belgian fleet, this will provide but 47,000 tons dead weight monthly leaving shortage to be made up by neutral charters monthly of 85,000 tons dead weight. The figures which we understand were forwarded in British telegram today to Lord Reading to be submitted are inadequate to provide the approved programme. Concerning Johnson boats we beg you will insist on proposals outlined your cable received May 91 being carried out without new conditions being imposed this side. These continually repeated new conditions have effectually prevented our getting these ships in our service. Relief Commission.


File No. 855.48/740
The Ambassador in Great Britain (Page) to the Secretary of State

LONDON, May 13, 1918, 5 p. m.

[Received May 14, 2.14 a. m.] 10025. For Hoover [from Poland] :

97. Referring to our 96 this date, we understand on excellent authority that United States Shipping Board inquired of British War Office if they concurred in furnishing 60,000 tons required to fulfill Relief programme in order to give effect to the resolution of priority, which tonnage must be allocated at expense of shipment of men and munitions, and that British War Office replied they did not concur in this action. It appears to us that this is the dividing of

* Not printed.


the ways and that the United States Government together with Great Britain has now to make the decision as to whether or not the people in Belgium and northern France are to be fed. Purely as a war measure and independent of all considerations of humanity and the debt owed to our own allies, we are sure the feeding of the people of the occupied territories is equally as important as the shipment of troops and food to Britain and France. We are sure that if this question were left to the decision of the public of Great Britain and the United States, Belgium and France would be fed. Do you not believe the time has come to lay the situation before the public? And also will you not take this up personally with the President as we are taking it up with Monsieur Clemenceau and the Prime Minister? As a temporary measure to meet the May requirements we urge you to secure the concurrence of United States with the British proposal as outlined in our 96, as we feel sure this is all they will do at this time and [it] at least establishes joint governmental responsibility. Poland.


File No. 855.48/741
The Belgian Prime Minister (De Broqueville) to the Secretary of


LONDON, undated.

[Received May 14, 1918, 10.41 a. m.] May I strongly urge Your Excellency that United States Shipping Board agree to proposal of Stevens of Maritime Transport Council, first, to alleviate May crisis, the United States furnish three vessels at once, the British also furnishing three, exclusive of the Pacific and Gustaf Adolf; second, that monthly shortage of tonnage required by C.R.B. be furnished in equal parts by American and British ship executives. If this principle be agreed to it will assure the tonnage needed, as the details can be arranged. Otherwise there is danger of the present impasse continuing, which can only result in even graver conditions in Belgium and France.


File No. 855.48/771

The French Ambassador (Jusserand) to the Assistant Secretary of

State (Phillips)
WASHINGTON, May 13, 1918.

[Received May 15.] My Dear Mr. SECRETARY: I have just received from my Government the text of a telegram addressed to the President by Prime Minister Clemenceau, concerning the food situation in Belgium,

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