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stealth on four British naval vessels including two battleships in the harbor of Alexandria which were carried out by members of the crews of Axis submarines operating offshore and which have been interpreted as preliminary to more extensive operations against that port.

The foregoing considerations have created a certain impression on a limited number of ranking officials in Cairo and it has even been suggested that air and naval operations against Egypt might well be initiated by Hitler in the immediate future while the British forces are occupied in Cyrenaica.

It is only in London that the complete evaluation of any such contingency may be obtained. I urge therefore that inquiries be made there to ascertain if from information available or obtainable that contingency may be excluded and if not that all possible steps be taken to reinforce the air arm in this theater in preparation to meet whatever assaults may be in prospect.


740.0011 European War 1939/18844

Memorandum by the Chief of the Division of Near Eastern Affairs (Murray) to the Secretary of State

[WASHINGTON,] December 23, 1941. MR. SECRETARY: In response to your wish to obtain accurate information regarding the size of British forces in the Near and Middle East, I have obtained from the War Department the following data.

There are at present in Syria and Palestine 145,000 British troops. under the command of General Wilson, in Iraq and Iran, 100,000 under the command of General Wavell. In all of North Africa, including Egypt and Libya, there are 377,000 troops under the command of General Richie. General Auchinleck is in supreme command of the troops in North Africa, as well as those in Syria and Palestine. The actual combat troops in Libya are stated to be no more than 100,000. The remaining forces comprise the service of supply, reserves, et cetera.

We yesterday telegraphed to our Legations in Baghdad and Tehran to obtain further information regarding British forces in that area.

I shall keep in touch with the War Department regarding this matter and if there is any further information available I shall communicate it to you without delay.


41 Telegrams Nos. 194 and 162, not printed.


740.00111A Combat Areas/430: Telegram

The Minister in Egypt (Kirk) to the Secretary of State

CAIRO, April 12, 1941-11 a. m. [Received April 13-9: 50 p. m.]

244. My April 12, 10 a. m.42 As indicated in my telegram under reference the reports concerning the prospective reopening of the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden to American vessels have caused widespread satisfaction among local importers. Since the entrance of Italy into the war last June when the fortnightly service between New York and Alexandria of the American Export Lines had to be suspended, shipping communications between the United States and Egypt have been very inadequate. The situation has grown worse in recent months owing to Egypt's increasing dependence upon the United States for import products as a result of the increasing preoccupation of English manufacturers with the war effort and the limited space available on British and other available vessels for commodities entering into normal commerce.

Since the closing of the Mediterranean to commercial shipping and the cessation of all American shipping communications between American and Egyptian ports importers in Egypt who placed orders in the United States have been forced to depend for shipping space upon the irregular sailings of Egyptian, Greek, Norwegian, Panamanian and Peruvian flag vessels between New York and Suez via the Cape of Good Hope. The impossibility of obtaining shipping space promptly on vessels plying between United States and Egypt caused many American manufacturers, particularly in the iron and steel, chemical and paper trades, to refuse to execute orders from Egypt on any terms of payment other than irrevocable letters of credit in New York payable against certificate of manufacture or warehouse receipt in New York. This has worked a great hardship on Egyptian importers because Egyptian exchange regulations do not permit local banks to issue letters of credit calling for payment on any basis other than presentation of clean ocean bill of lading with the result that in addition to being under the necessity of having to pay in advance for his goods the Egyptian importer has been frequently obliged to pay a middleman in New York a commission of 3 percent for advancing the funds which the American manufacturer insisted upon receiving the moment his goods were warehoused in New York, the middleman subsequently reimbursing himself when the goods in question were loaded upon a

42 Telegram No. 243, not printed.

ship bound for Egypt and the letter of credit with covering bill of lading could be presented at a New York bank for encashment.

The establishment of regular sailings of American flag vessels between New York and Egyptian ports should immediately put an end to the above difficulty and increase trade between Egypt and the United States. In addition to automotive vehicles, automobile tires, lubricating oils, tobacco, radios, cinema films, office appliances, medical preparations, which in normal times were the principal imports from the United States, Egypt is now in urgent need from the United States of large quantities of iron and steel, tinplate, cotton piece goods, fertilizers and industrial chemicals, and paper.

Regular sailings between New York and Suez of American flag vessels should also greatly benefit Egypt's export trade with the United States. In normal times Egypt's leading exports to the United States are cotton, wool, cottonseed oil, rags and scraps of textile materials, onions, beeswax, hides and skins, works of art and articles for collection, and henna. Due to the cutting off of the Continent of Europe from trade with the rest of the world there are commodities that Egypt could export profitably to the United States at the present which in normal times do not find their way to the American market. At the present time there are between 25,000 and 30,000 tons of highgrade Egyptian manganese ore in the vicinity of the Red Sea awaiting transport which should readily find a market in the United States. In addition there are readily available from 200,000 to 300,000 tons lowgrade manganese ore which could probably be marketed successfully in the United States if ocean freight rates were not excessive.

Before the war the United States bought appreciable quantities of phosphate from Central Europe and this source of supply is now closed to us. Egypt has important phosphate deposits, mining between 400,000 and 500,000 metric tons of phosphate rock per annum in normal times. Egyptian phosphate rock should be able to find a market in America of sufficient size to justify a considerable increase in phosphate mining in this country. Among other important minerals mined in Egypt which should find a ready market in the United States under present conditions are tungsten and wolfram. Before the outbreak of war tungsten was being mined in Egypt in important quantities but at the present time the mines have had to close down because of the lack of shipping space. More than a thousand tons of this mineral are said to be lying piled up at the mine-heads awaiting the chance to be transported to the world markets. Small quantities of wolfram are already available and production could be expanded if a market were assured.

In submitting the foregoing to the Department I realize fully that in connection with the regular passage of vessels between the United

States and Egypt either by the Cape of Good Hope, or possibly via the Pacific, precedence must be given to urgent shipments of war material. I believe, however, that any project which would result in the immediate interchange of essential commercial products between the United States and Egypt would constitute at this time an important stabilizing element in this country, both political and social as well as economic, and would furthermore establish a basis for the acquisition in the future of extensive markets for American goods not only throughout the Near East but also in the Mediterranean area. It is in view of those considerations that I urge that the Department investigate the possibility of advocating the inclusion in cargoes of vessels from the United States to Red Sea ports of shipments, even in small quantities, of commodities required by Egyptian importers and the carriage in vessels returning to the United States of Egyptian exports now in demand in American markets.


811.20 Defense (M)/1792a: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Minister in Egypt (Kirk)

WASHINGTON, April 21, 1941-6 p. m.

93. For Kirk from Feis.43 Much interested and will follow matter through vigorously. An arrangement might be facilitated if estimates were transmitted at once of immediately available supplies particularly of manganese, tungsten and wolfram, with particulars as to grades.

You are much in our thoughts. [Feis.]


811.20 Defense (M)/1799: Telegram

The Minister in Egypt (Kirk) to the Secretary of State

CAIRO, April 27, 1941-9 a. m. [Received April 28-6: 36 a. m.]

347. The Department's 93, April 21, 6 p. m. For Feis. Many thanks for your message. From preliminary information available manganese is reported to be approximately as follows: 40,000 metric tons 28% manganese, 190,000 tons 45 to 50%, and 300 tons 80%, the bulk of which is at the port of Abouzenima on the eastern side of the Gulf of Suez which has pier accommodations to load 10,000 ton vessels at the rate of 500 tons per hour. It is also reported that about 300 tons of higher than 80% manganese are available near Kosseir on the west

43 Herbert Feis, Adviser on International Economic Affairs.

side of the Red Sea which would have to be loaded from barges at a distance of 1500 metres off shore.

Tentative reports indicate that there is no tungsten actually available and only a few tons of wolfram concentrate as the mines have been closed because of the lack of a market. The existing mines, which are estimated to be able to produce about a hundred tons monthly with existing machinery, produce wolfram concentrate the better grades of which are said to run as follows: WO; 70%, FeO 10%, MnO 9%, CaO 212%, SiO 25%.

Reports indicate that there are about 200,000 tons phosphate rock averaging 62% tri-calcium phosphate, the bulk of which is stored at Kosseir and Sofaga on the west side of the Red Sea. Twelve thousand ton vessels can moor at the latter port but loading at the former must be done from lighters. These phosphates may be needed in South Africa.

There are available for immediate shipment 12,000 tons of gypsum 98%, sulphate of calcium at Rasmaelap on the east side of the Gulf of Suez where loading from barges is necessary.

There is an enormous quantity of Egyptian cotton available for shipment if a decision is made, as mentioned in my telegram number 338, April 25 [26], 10 a. m." to ship it to central points in the Western Hemisphere. Its transport would require approximately 824,000 measured tons of shipping space.


811.20 Defense (M)/1888: Telegram

The Minister in Egypt (Kirk) to the Secretary of State

CAIRO, May 1, 1941–5 p. m. [Received May 2-8:20 a. m.]

379. Personal for Feis. In continuation of my 347, April 27, 9 a. m. If you are interested in making the operation of vessels pay, it looks as if we might supply a couple of cargoes of American citizens from this part of the world if ships would carry passengers and if we had advance notice of return sailings.


811.20 Defense (M)/2052: Telegram

The Minister in Egypt (Kirk) to the Secretary of State

CAIRO, May 2, 1941-5 p. m. [Received May 4-9:53 a. m.]

390. Local importers are being advised by their American suppliers that shipping space to Egypt is at present unobtainable and therefore

"Not printed.

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