740.0011 European War 1939/33437/10: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Ambassador in France (Bullitt)

534. Your 916, May 28, 1 p.m. The President desires me to let you know that it is absolutely impossible to consider sending the fleet to the Mediterranean. The presence of the fleet in the Pacific at this time is a very practical contribution to the maintenance of peace in the Pacific. The value of this contribution is fully appreciated by the British Government and, it is assumed, by the French Government as well.

What vessels we have in the Atlantic are required under present circumstances either for patrol duty or for special service in South [Page 455] and Central American waters. From the strictly practical aspect, the presence of an American fleet at this time in the Mediterranean would result in very serious risks and hazards and it would be impossible, for reasons which are, of course, apparent, for the fleet to base itself on any ports in or near the Mediterranean should Italy enter the war. Finally as you will recognize, unless any fleet sent were sufficiently large to be effective the impression created would be the reverse of that desired.