765.84/67: Telegram

The Chargé in Italy (Kirk) to the Secretary of State

292. My telegram No. 287, December 7, 4 p.m.17 Although papers last night carried only the statement contained in my above-mentioned telegram today’s press has published this account of the attack on Ualual in the regular form of an official communiqué with a short description of the location of the post and in some instance with a map of the locality and prominent headlines.

According to information supplied to the Military Attaché to the Embassy by an officer of the War Ministry the attack on Ualual which is claimed to be on Italian territory and already occupied as such was carried out by six hundred Abyssinians and was repulsed by colonial troops and aeroplanes. The officer refrained from committing himself directly but gave the impression that for the moment the War Ministry does not regard this incident as serious as it is not yet clear whether the attack was carried out by a native chief acting solely on his own initiative or by Abyssinian Government troops acting Under command. He intimated that if the latter is proved the matter might be of graver concern.

The Chief of the African Division at the Foreign Office in discussing this incident asserted that although the frontier between Abyssinia and Italian Somaliland has not been defined the Wells of Ualual have been occupied by the Italians for a long period and emphasized the fact that the attack was clearly unprovoked. He said that during the fighting on December 5th the Colonial troops under Italian command suffered thirty killed and one hundred wounded and that the attacking force was not repulsed until the following day. He added that the responsibility for the attack had not yet been determined but that a vigorous protest had been lodged with the Abyssinian Government although specific demands had not yet been formulated. The Italian Government he said is now awaiting further developments.

  1. Not printed.