File No. 855.48/438

The Secretary of State to the Minister in Belgium ( Whitlock )


249. Your 38, 1st. Department is informed that British and German mine fields combined effectually shut off approaches to Holland to North Sea route; in consequence neutral owners and insurers Belgian relief ships refuse take this risk, and, therefore, German proposal wholly impracticable. Germans have indicated to this Government they can respect Atlantic seaboard ships en route to Falmouth and have indicated to Netherland Government that they can respect [Page 633] ships en route Flushing to British coast. There is, therefore, absolutely no reason why they should not extend this respect to Belgian relief ships between Falmouth and Thames. Furthermore, great majority of ships must touch at United Kingdom ports in order to coal. German proposal absolutely infeasible and unworkable, and entire responsibility for the starvation of the Belgians and French people rests squarely on their shoulders unless they are prepared to respect the flag of mercy of the Belgian relief hitherto. Please represent the situation strongly to German authorities.