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take place in London and has designated the following officials as the American representatives to take part in these negotiations: Mr. Charles Fahy, Assistant Solicitor General, Department of Justice; Colonel Harry J. Malony, Field Artillery, United States Army; and Commander Harold Biesemeier, United States Navy.
These officers will leave New York on the Clipper plane next Friday, January 17th. Please take up with the British Government at once the question of obtaining passage for these officers on the first British plane leaving Lisbon for London after their arrival in Portugal.
We hope that it will be possible for you to provide office space for these officers in the Embassy and to furnish them with such stenographic and clerical assistance as they may require. We also desire that you and the officers of your staff extend such assistance to them in their work as they may desire.
These officers will communicate with you from Lisbon in regard to reserving hotel accommodations for them.
811.34544/450a : Telegram
The Secretary of State to the Chargé in the United Kingdom
WASHINGTON, January 17, 1941-8 p. m.
175. Personal for the Chargé d'Affaires. We have encountered several discouraging obstacles in our efforts to get under way at the earliest possible moment with the construction of our proposed military bases in Newfoundland, Bermuda and other places. The present telegram relates to Newfoundland and Bermuda because of the fact that, from our standpoint, those places are the most urgent ones.
In a note dated November 22, 1940," the British Chargé stated that the British Government had no desire to suggest that work on the various bases should be postponed pending the completion of formal leases, and that he had been authorized to state that, so far as the British Government were concerned, they were entirely agreeable that work should be begun by the American authorities without further delay on all the sites the location of which had already been agreed upon. This note related to our proposed bases other than in Newfoundland. In another note the British Ambassador repeated the same assurance in respect to Newfoundland.
In a note dated December 13th last " the Secretary informed the British Chargé as follows in regard to Newfoundland:
"It is my understanding that the British and Newfoundland authorities are in agreement that the United States authorities may commence any works on the proposed bases in Newfoundland at once; that the Newfoundland authorities are prepared to institute immediately such condemnation proceedings as may be necessary to acquire title to privately owned property and subsequently to lease such properties to the United States Government in accordance with the provisions of the basic exchange of notes of September 2, 1940.72 Officers of the United States forces in Newfoundland are being instructed to communicate with the authorities in Newfoundland respecting the relative priorities in which they desire condemnation proceedings to be instituted in these areas in order that construction may be commenced at once and prosecuted without delay."
The Secretary's note of December 13th went on to say that the procedure which had been proposed by the Newfoundland authorities for a special board to be constituted to take evidence and advise the Government of Newfoundland regarding payments to be made for dispossessed private owners was agreeable to the American Government subject to the understanding (1) that any compensation for privately owned property would, in accordance with the basic exchange of notes of September 2nd last, be subject to the agreement of the United States Government, and (2) that the United States authorities would freely be afforded facilities to make such investigations as might appear advisable of any recommended payments which appeared to the United States authorities to be excessive. The note then set forth certain classes of information which we hoped would, in the ordinary course of the Board's proceedings, be obtained to demonstrate that the payments recommended were fair and equitable.
We have had nothing from the British Embassy in response to this note other than an acknowledgment, but we have encountered repeated difficulties with the Newfoundland authorities. Some days ago the Newfoundland authorities informed the senior United States naval officer in Newfoundland that, despite the assurances which had been given us the Newfoundland Government was not prepared to move squatters from the Crown lands in the Argentia Peninsula (where our major base will be located) unless the United States Government was prepared to give an undertaking in advance that awards made to these squatters by "an impartial tribunal" would be approved by the United States Government. This, in our opinion, would be absolutely contrary to the basic exchange of notes of September 2nd last. The Navy Department in reply authorized its representative in Newfoundland to say that the Navy Department would advance to the Newfoundland Government such sums as might be necessary to move the squatters now on this land to other locations against a final settlement to be reached
72 Foreign Relations, 1940, vol. III, pp. 73 and 74.
in accordance with the exchange of notes of September 2nd last. This offer was made because of the reported financial difficulties of the Newfoundland Government in the hope that it would enable us to commence actual construction work at once. The Newfoundland authorities have not accepted this offer and have not, so far as we are advised, taken any steps to move these squatters whose homes are on the Crown land where our base is to be built.
Certain contracts for construction work on the Argentia Peninsula have been let. The contractors and their equipment are on the way to Newfoundland now and should arrive there by tomorrow. In our opinion it is of extreme importance that the British Government take the necessary steps to implement the assurances which have been given to us that construction work may be started at once. Questions of compensation to these squatters and other private owners can be settled later between the two Governments but the important thing is that the United States be given possession of this site at once so that this construction work can be started immediately.
In a note dated January 4, 1941,73 the British Chargé informed us of the British Government's acceptance of our proposals for the sites of bases in Trinidad, St. Lucia and Bermuda. As to Bermuda the note stated in part:
"I have also been instructed to inform you that His Majesty's Government have now been able to consider the proposal of the United States Government that, in addition to the other areas in Bermuda already agreed upon, there should be granted the lease of Morgan and Tucker's Islands. His Majesty's Government are prepared to agree to these Islands being leased to the United States Government for a period of 99 years."
The British Embassy had been informed that we propose to establish a naval patrol station on these two Islands. Yesterday we received a telegram from the representative of the Navy Department in Bermuda to the effect that the local authorities consider the use of Great Sound (that is, the waters in which these two Islands are located) still subject to negotiation and that they are "adhering to every possible means of objection". The telegram further stated that the publication of our decision to send representatives to London to discuss the actual leases had "greatly stiffened resistance of the local people" and that Bermuda was sending a delegation to London at the same time. Immediate possession of Morgan and Tucker's Islands is required so that construction may proceed.
Please see the Foreign Secretary at the earliest possible moment and place the foregoing facts before him. Please say to Mr. Eden that we look to the British Government to take the necessary action with the
Newfoundland, Bermudan, and, wherever necessary, other Colonial officials to make it possible for us to commence actual construction work at once in accordance with the assurances which have been given us by the British Government. You should add that, in our opinion, public opinion in the United States would be completely unable to understand the attitude which the Newfoundland and the Bermudan authorities are taking, and that it would come as a distinct shock to them if they were to learn of the obstacles which we have encountered. In view of the impending arrival in Newfoundland of the contractors and the construction materials this matter is extremely urgent, and I hope that you can take action at once and telegraph promptly the result of your conversation with Mr. Eden.
The Secretary of the Navy 74 and the Chief of Naval Operations 75 expect to have to testify before Congressional Committees in the next few days, and probably not later than next Tuesday, on naval appropriations and they will undoubtedly be asked questions about the status of the proposed bases. It is unnecessary to point out how important it is that they be placed in a position to say that there are no obstacles in the way of the immediate prosecution of construction.
The Chargé in the United Kingdom (Johnson) to the Secretary
LONDON, January 21, 1941-5 p. m. [Received January 21-1: 10 p. m.]
225. Personal for the Secretary. My 212, January 20, 7 p. m.76 With reference to my interview yesterday with the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs and to the memorandum I left with him at that time based on your 175, January 17, 8 p. m., I have just received from the Foreign Office the following memorandum regarding the Newfoundland situation:
"There has been no desire on the part of the Newfoundland Government to adopt other than a helpful attitude with regard to the initiation of construction work on the bases to be leased to the United States in the Island, in spite of the inevitably short time available for making arrangements in regard to the local inhabitants. The memorandum of the 20th January refers to the question of procedure for compensation to those owners who are dispossessed in order to provide sites for the bases. The sole concern of the Newfoundland Government in this connection has been to find a procedure which would be equitable alike to them and to the owners and acceptable to the United
States Government. The question of procedure is of course one which has to be considered in relation not only to Newfoundland but also to all the colonies concerned and it is proposed to discuss it generally at the forthcoming conference in London. In the meantime, in order that there may be no delay in beginning construction work in the Island, the Newfoundland Government have agreed that, without prejudice to the general discussions, compensation should be paid to a certain number of owners who are being dispossessed immediately in the compensation being provided out of a fund supplied for that purpose by the United States authorities. In order to enable this interim procedure to be rapidly put into effect, they are arranging to provide at once, at considerable expense to themselves, alternative accommodation for the persons concerned.
In the circumstances, the immediate question appears to be satisfactorily disposed of, and it is assumed that the United States Government will not think it necessary to discuss in detail the course of events referred to in the memorandum of the 20th January."
I am seeing an official of the Colonial Office this afternoon regarding Bermuda and will telegraph separately.
The Chargé in the United Kingdom (Johnson) to the Secretary
LONDON, January 21, 1941-10 p. m. [Received January 21-6: 40 p. m.]
228. Personal for the Secretary. My 225, January 21, 5 p. m. I have just had a [apparent omission] at their request with the Parliamentary Under Secretary " (Lord Lloyd 78 being ill) and several high officials of the Colonial Office. They had received and studied the memorandum I left with Mr. Eden yesterday on the Newfoundland and Bermuda situations and I was given the following memorandum dated today:
"His Majesty's Government have agreed in principle to the lease of Morgan and Tucker Islands for a period of 99 years, and the Governor of Bermuda has been informed of the importance attached by the United States Government to an early start on the seaplane base on these two islands. The Governor has also been urged to arrange for legislation to be introduced as soon as possible to provide for the expropriation of private property which will be required for the purpose of the United States bases in Bermuda."
I told the officials that I would of course be glad to transmit this memorandum at once but that I did not think it was a very definite reply to the representations which I had made under instructions in
77 Sir Richard Austen Butler.
78 Secretary of State for the Colonies.