File No. 855.48/444

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


5612. Following confidential for Hoover:

British Government agrees commission vessels to leave Rotterdam without touching United Kingdom and to send Samland northern [route] and without touching United Kingdom, but afterwards canceled; because, although Germans have altered danger zone and now state vessels may approach channel five miles wide between German zone and British mine fields which Foreign Office advises is blocked by Dutch field, both Dutch and British Admiralties consider it hazardous; therefore outgoing vessels Rotterdam held. British authorities have not yet agreed incoming boats to proceed direct without touching United Kingdom; awaiting German reply to commission’s new request through Von Stumm and Merry del Val for [Page 634] safe-conduct through channel and from United Kingdom to Rotterdam; confident they will do everything we find necessary.

In reply to former request through German and American Legations at The Hague, Berlin answers February 4:

Relief ships now Rotterdam can not coal at Barry Dock, England; all ships now in England must leave February 4; all British ships sailing to-day or in future can not navigate in danger zone, but must take route indicated by German navy. Commission steamers can no longer come here; only Dutch paddle steamers can travel between Holland and England. Germans then specify that paddle ships must follow line between Flushing and Southwold.

There are seven loaded steamers, British ports, 24,000 tons; eight steamers approaching British ports which can not be communicated with, loaded, 48,000 tons; two ships of which no reports between the United Kingdom and Rotterdam, loaded with 11,000 tons; seven vessels outbound in Rotterdam, 29,000 tons. Leopold II left Barry February 1 for Sandy Hook; Liège left Barry February 2 for Sandy Hook. In addition in ballast in the United Kingdom outbound three vessels, 18,000 tons, and on the high seas en route to loading ports under our protection we have four boats of 18,000 tons, also three ships in American ports 11,000 tons. Your Washington No. 1 just received and forwarded Whitlock. German officers in Brussels leaving to-day for conference at Berlin regarding status of commission. Poland and Kellogg.