File No. 600.119/598

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


9180. War Trade Board [from Sheldon]:

No. 326. Have had several interviews with Stevens on the question of dividing neutral tonnage secured by agreements fifty-fifty with the British. The French never officially signed the Swedish modus vivendi owing to their reluctance to admit the principle of this division of boats obtained thereby, and subsequently the French have made representations, both to Shipping Mission and to me, to have this division altered. The French state they were unaware of any agreement between the British and ourselves as to such arranged division and had such agreement been come to, feel that they should have been advised. So far as I know no agreement has been arranged except what took place verbally between Doctor Taylor2 and Cecil. Definite instructions, however, were received [Page 507] by the Embassy from the War Trade Board in telegram 6103, December 22, 1917.1 These instructions have been acted on by me in all subsequent negotiations and were particularly referred to in telegram from Embassy to State Department, 8117, January 1, 3 p.m.2 I understand that Stevens is cabling today suggesting that the principle of equal division with the British might be modified so that a proper inter-Allied shipping committee should allocate charters on such boats as may be obtained by agreement with Norway, Sweden, and Denmark, the Dutch boats being in a separate category. I have suggested to Stevens that should the War Trade Board agree to a new division, no definite arrangements be made for such division until all outstanding minor disagreements between the Allies on charters such as, for instance, the Greek ships be satisfactorily arranged. The American Shipping Mission here feel, I think, that there are very few disadvantages in agreeing in principle to a new division while there is undoubted advantage to be gained in removing what seems to be the cause of considerable irritation, particularly to the French and somewhat to the Italians.


[For a statement of the American program of military transport, as expanded after the beginning of the German offensive in France, and of the conditions with respect to shipping consequent thereon, see telegram to the Ambassador in Great Britain, No. 7144, April 5, 1918, ante, page 198.]