The Diplomatic Agent and Consul General at Tangier (Blake) to the Secretary of State
[Received July 22—4:12 p.m.]
9. Following my telegram No. 8,8 Spanish war vessels were fueled in harbor by Spanish auxiliary ship following which Franco aeroplanes dropped bombs without effect as three ships were leaving harbor. No fuel taken from shore stations.
Master American steamer Exmouth reports Spanish planes dropped three bombs which exploded hundred yards from his ship en route in Gibraltar Straits from Málaga to Casablanca. Am seeking means to convey protest to General Franco.
Unless neutrality of zone clearly defined and defended it is feared General Franco will occupy zone on ground Tangier being used by his adversaries as base for operations.
I do not fear serious complications if position is handled with firmness and discretion by international authorities but should emergencies arise captain of British destroyer has offered assistance in case of need to Americans.
Late last night Committee of Control unanimously decided against Spanish member that presence and refueling of war vessels in Tangier harbor violated statutory neutrality. Spanish member informed that war vessels must either depart or be interned and measures would be taken to enforce this decision which is being referred to respective governments for confirmation.
British, French, Italian and Portugal Consulates General guarded by armed marines from their respective war vessels.