740.0011 European War 1939/5420: Telegram

The Consul General at Casablanca (Goold) to the Secretary of State

114. My telegram No. 106, August 30 [31], 5 p.m. The traffic via Oran has been interrupted. Two versions are current as to the causes. One is that it was a German order made because of the fear of developments in the situation here similar to those which occurred in Chad and in French Equatorial Africa. The other is increasing British naval activity, perhaps related to the fact that it is reported that 40 percent of whatever is landed at Marseille is earmarked for Germany and 20 percent for Italy.

The French steamer Katiola carrying frozen meat and white beans reached Bordeaux from Casablanca about a week ago, the captain having orders to scuttle if he fell in with the English, the sanction for failure to comply being the occupation of three additional French towns. The French steamer Lipari left today for the same destination also loaded with a cargo of frozen meats and escorted by a destroyer.

The crew to take the Ville d’Oran on the mission mentioned in my telegram 10959 has not arrived. According to the Director General of the French Line, influential people in the French Government are working to bring about war with England and the changes in the Government announced this morning indicate to him that they are making progress.

If French West Africa follows Chad and French Equatorial Africa, there will be more likelihood of Morocco’s joining the movement, and an effective blockade keeping out tea and sugar might well create a native pressure that would be hard to resist.

The London radio broadcast recently announced to Moors that they could have the required tea and sugar if they did the right thing. A British agent is here prepared to arrange the exchange of tea for phosphates.

The Protectorate authorities would like to have Moroccan credits in the United States released so that they could buy gasoline and they would like the British to let a French vessel bring it to Casablanca uncovered by navicert. If these desiderata could be tentatively arranged the Resident General would examine the possibility of giving an assurance that the gasoline would not leave Morocco.

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