File No. 763.72114/139

The Ambassador in Great Britain ( Page ) to the Secretary of State


1352. British Government has made a communication to me on the treatment meted out to British officers and men captured by German forces, embodying a report from Major Vandeleur, First Cameronians, who has just escaped from Crefeld, and statements made by other credible persons. The note is being transmitted to you by pouch and will also be forwarded to the Berlin Embassy by messenger to-morrow. Meanwhile I am requested to ask you to transmit the strongest possible protest to the German Government against the inhuman treatment to which it is unfortunately evident, in the opinion of the British Government, that many British prisoners of war in Germany are being subjected.

The British Government is all the more concerned by the reports which reach them of the manner in which British prisoners of war in Germany have been singled out for ill-treatment, since they have on their part interpreted the appropriate provisions of the Hague convention in a liberal spirit pending the conclusion of some arrangement such as that suggested by Mr. Chandler Anderson and already reported to you, that the United States Government should lend the services of a certain number [of] officials from the Quartermaster General or pay department at Washington to superintend, with the authorization of the British and German Governments, the distribution of necessary comforts to prisoners of war in the two countries; and owing to the terrible distress evidently prevailing among British prisoners in Germany the British Government expresses the hope that you will be willing at the earliest possible moment to cause a sum of money to be expended in providing clothing, extra food, money, and other necessaries which seem indispensable to raise the present standard of the British prisoners to one of decent human existence.

Grey states his willingness to transmit to me a draft for £20,000 for this purpose as soon as he hears from you that effective arrangements can be made.

The state [ment] made by Major Vandeleur, which I am forwarding to you and which the British Government reports as a creditable and unexaggerated document, describes treatment of extreme brutality and inhumanity and seems to show an intention on the part of the German military authorities to single out British prisoners with object of making them as miserable and despicable objects as possible, since Major Vandeleur states that the insulting and altogether brutal treatment to which he and his fellow prisoners were subjected en route from the point at which they were captured to the place of internment was subsequently mitigated.

Impossible within the limits of a telegram for me to transmit to you a satisfactory summary of the report which is very detailed and shocking, but as it will be in the possession of the Department by the next mail and in Gerard’s hands within a few days, Grey asks [Page 1004] that you telegraph the latter to make the strongest statement consistently possible in presenting the British Government’s protest.

American Ambassador