The Ambassador in the United Kingdom ( Kennedy ) to the Secretary of State
[Received March 30—3:46 p.m.]
423. My 416, March 29, 8 p.m. Following our inquiry the Foreign Office requested the Spanish Chargé d’Affaires to call and asked him to inquire again of General Franco whether he would be prepared to [Page 795] allow the evacuation of refugees. The Chargé d’Affaires said that he would be glad to transmit the inquiry but expressed as his personal opinion that General Franco could not, in the face of public opinion in Spain, give his consent to the evacuation of political refugees. The officials here have little hope that General Franco will modify his previous stand and, with all Spanish ports now in his hands, they think it more unlikely than ever that he would give his consent for this purpose. They will inform us of the reply from Burgos.
The Foreign Office points out that the British Navy, of course, has standing instructions when in Spanish ports where there is trouble, not to refuse admission to the ships to individuals who request it and who are apparently in danger of their lives. The Foreign Office also confirms reports that a considerable number of refugees were taken on board British men-of-war yesterday and today under these circumstances. These instructions to the navy, however, are quite apart from any question of giving protection to private ships entering Spanish waters for the purpose of removing refugees.