346B.115 Standard Oil Co./18

Memorandum by the Chief of the Division of Near Eastern Affairs (Murray)48

With reference to the oral protest made by Mr. Berle this morning to the Italian Ambassador in connection with the attack last Friday by Italian bombing planes on the properties in Arabia of the Standard Oil Company of California, the Ambassador called me by telephone upon his return to his Embassy to say that he would very much prefer to have the Department also take this matter up with the Italian Government through our Embassy in Rome where the matter could be handled more expeditiously and where accurate information was available.

I told the Ambassador that we had discussed this phase of the matter and that in the light of all the circumstances it had seemed preferable to handle the matter in Washington through discussions with him. The Ambassador seemed to imply, however, that it might be somewhat difficult for him to handle the matter entirely alone and expressed the desire that I bring his suggestion to the further attention of Mr. Berle. This I promised to do.

In my opinion it is somewhat difficult for us to avoid meeting the Italian Ambassador’s wishes in this matter in view of the fact that, strictly speaking, if representations are to be made by this Government they should pass through our Embassy in Rome. Under the circumstances, if you so desire we can prepare a telegram in that sense, but it would be my suggestion that before acting we should make a further endeavor to obtain more precise information and details regarding [Page 723] the bombing in Arabia from the Standard Oil Company of California. I propose in any case to telephone to their office in New York this morning, making an urgent request that they set their machinery in motion and try to obtain an absolute confirmation of the bombing in Arabia as well as further details regarding it.

I would appreciate receiving at your earliest convenience an indication of your wishes as to the reply I should give to the Italian Ambassador in this matter.

Wallace Murray
  1. Addressed to Mr. Adolf A. Berle, Jr., Assistant Secretary of State, and Mr. Ray Atherton, Acting Chief of the Division of European Affairs.