File No. 855.48/258

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


2046. My 1951 of April 19.1 Sir Edward Grey has addressed a note to me dated May 3 regarding the sinking or the British ship Harpalyce engaged in work for Commission for Relief in Belgium, and enclosed statements made before British Consul General at Rotterdam by survivors and by master of steamship Elizabeth who was an eyewitness of the occurrence. In the note it is set forth that from these statements it is evident that the Harpalyce, which was at the time flying the flag of the relief commission, was sunk in broad daylight by a torpedo fired without warning by a submarine, and 17 of crew of 45 lost their lives in spite of efforts made to rescue them on the part of American and Dutch steamers. In addition to flying the flag of the commission, the British Government are informed that the ship was displaying side cloths painted with name of the commission in large letters, and that the master had in his possession a pass of safe-conduct furnished by the German Minister at The Hague. It is further stated in this note that it is shown that the position of the sinking of this vessel, as described by survivors, was between 25 and 27 miles from coast of Holland and she was consequently not in the so-called war zone proclaimed by the German Government, which does not extend nearer to the Dutch coast than a distance of 30 miles. A request is made in the note that I bring these facts to the attention of my Government. Copy of note with its enclosures goes forward by mail.

American Ambassador
  1. Not printed; see No. 1547, April 21, to the Ambassador in Germany, ante, p. 1036.