832.24/277: Telegram

The Chargé in the United Kingdom (Johnson) to the Secretary of State75

3968. Personal for the Under Secretary. My 3964, December 5, 9 p.m. The Foreign Office informs me that a telegram was sent early this morning to Lord Lothian instructing him to advise the Department that the British Government would release the Siqueira Campos subject to certain conditions which have been set out in an instruction to the British Ambassador at Rio de Janeiro. Lord Lothian was asked to say to the Department inter alia that this action was really taken at the request of the United States Government. He was also instructed to say that His Majesty’s Government hopes that the United States Government will not regard this case as a precedent for supporting any similar requests in the future which may be advanced by South American Governments.

Following is text of note which has been telegraphed to the British Ambassador at Rio de Janeiro for presentation to the Brazilian Government:

“His Majesty’s Ambassador at Rio de Janeiro has been requested to inform the Brazilian Government that His Majesty’s Government cannot to their regret find anything in the Brazilian Ambassador’s note of November 7th to show that the arms on board the Siqueira Campos were paid for before the entry into force of the [Page 646] reprisals Order in Council. His Majesty’s Government are convinced that any concession in regard to enemy exports, besides encouraging our enemies, will have a most damaging effect on the blockade and will thus help to prolong the war. Nevertheless, since the Brazilian Government attach so much importance to this shipment, His Majesty’s Government, in the interests of the friendly relations so happily existing between them and the Brazilian Government, are prepared as an absolutely final concession to release the Siqueira Campos if the Brazilian Government will agree ‘in writing’.

Not to ask again for exemption for enemy exports of any kind, nor attempt to obtain any further goods from Germany, and in particular not to allow the SS Bage now at Lisbon to sail with any German exports on board;
To instruct the Lloyd Brazileiro to bring their entire fleet into the ship warrant scheme and to accept certain specified terms and conditions of entry into this scheme which have been explained to Sir G. Knox;
To immobilize the enemy ships now in their ports by the removal of essential pieces of machinery (as has been done by the Venezuelan Government).

His Majesty’s Ambassador has also been instructed to ask that the Lloyd Brazileiro shall charter to the Ministry of Shipping not less than 25 per cent of their total tonnage of ships of 3,000 G. R. T. and over (it is quite normal for warrant holders to make agreements of this kind on entry into the scheme). In addition His Majesty’s Government greatly hope that the Brazilian Government may feel able to take steps to hamper or stop the operation of the Italian air service to Brazil. Finally His Majesty’s Government assume in view of the concession regarding the Siqueira Campos the Brazilian Government will not feel it necessary to pursue further the question of the Itapé.

His Majesty’s Government have felt they are justified in asking that the Brazilian Government on their side will agree to the measures indicated, which will to some extent compensate for the weakening of the blockade which is involved by the release of the Siqueira Campos.

Sir G. Knox has been instructed to add that His Majesty’s Government are anxious that the passengers of the Siqueira Campos should be spared further inconveniences owing to the detention of the ship and will therefore welcome a very early reply from the Brazilian Government.”

The Foreign Office official who was kind enough to make this document available reiterated what Lord Halifax said to me yesterday afternoon. The British feeling is that if they are prepared to make this important breach in their enemy export policy they are fully justified in asking the Brazilians to do something to make up for the damage done to the British blockade policy by the grant of the concession. The official further said that Lord Halifax had instructed him to say that he hoped I would inform my Government that the [Page 647] British earnestly trust that the United States Government will see its way to using its influence with the Brazilian Government in the direction of agreeing to the British terms.

  1. The text of this telegram was transmitted by the Department to the Chargé in Brazil as telegram No. 426, December 6, 3 p.m., for his information.