File No. 763.72/1514
The Ambassador in Great Britain ( Page ) to the Secretary of State
[Received 3.05 p. m.]
1714. Commenting on Bernstorff’s note to you transmitted in your telegram 1140, February 16,1 Grey writes me that the German practice of torpedoing harmless merchant ships without notice commenced before the German Government announced the decision now represented to have been taken, and that any new measures adopted by British merchant vessels will necessarily be a consequence and not a justification of the announcement that German submarines will sink vessels regardless of the lives of the non-combatant crew.
According to your instructions I made it clear to Grey that a policy which would keep food from non-combatants would create an unfavorable impression in the United States with the possible result of embarrassment to the Government. To this he replies with reference to his note of February 19 regarding the Wilhelmina case where he states the attitude of the British Government in the matter of stopping food supplies for Germany is fully explained and he thinks fully justified.2