File No. 763.72112/2043

The British Ambassador ( Spring Rice ) to the Secretary of State

Dear Mr. Secretary: With reference to my telephonic message of to-day, I venture to enclose copy of a communication I am making to the press in reply to an assertion which is published to-day to the effect that the British Government has stopped all Red Cross supplies. This, of course, is not the fact, and I think it desirable to state what has actually happened. Your Department is not directly involved, as most of the correspondence took place between the Red Cross society and this Embassy, but you have kindly given me your permission to make a public statement, of which I avail myself not, I hope, in any spirit of controversy—least of all with the State Department—but merely with the object of making the facts known to the public.

I remain [etc.]

Cecil Spring Rice

Statement given to the press by the British Embassy

A statement has been published in the press to the effect that Great Britain has suspended the issuance of permits for shipment of hospital supplies of any description from the United States to Germany, Austria, Hungary, Bulgaria, and Turkey.

The facts are as follows:

On May 11 the British Government communicated to the United States Government a list of articles which they were prepared to accept as coming within the description contained in the Declaration of London, Article 29 (1), as articles serving exclusively to aid the sick and wounded and therefore not liable to be considered as contraband of war, provided that a general agreement between the belligerent powers could be secured. It was not until December 9 that the British Embassy was informed that Germany had agreed to this list; but the articles mentioned on the list have been given permits since the war began.

Rubber goods such as gloves and rubber sheets were not included in this list, and rubber being contraband of war and an article of great importance [Page 1050] from a military point of view, such goods were not allowed to pass into Germany. The British Government, however, after careful consideration of all the circumstances, offered to allow all hospital stores, whether on the list or not, to pass freely on receipt of a guarantee that these stores should be used exclusively by the American Red Cross and destroyed after being used.

This guarantee the American Red Cross were unable to give, their units having been withdrawn from Europe. They have recently applied for permits for a very large consignment of rubber goods on account of a Netherlands society for the use of the German Red Cross in southeastern Europe, including 2,000 meters of rubber tubing and 2,000 square meters of rubber sheeting. This proposal, in view of recent attempts to smuggle rubber into Germany, requires careful consideration and is now before the Allied Governments.

It is absolutely untrue that “the prohibition has been extended to all supplies.” The State Department and the American Red Cross Society have been informed of the above-mentioned circumstances in letters dated the 21st and 22d instant.