The Secretary of State to the Ambassador in the United Kingdom (Winant)
3603. Department’s 302130 and previous correspondence. General repatriation will not be organized as difficulties are numerous and well nigh insuperable. However passports may now be validated for return United States directly or via Canada as well as via Portugal. The Department also desires that you proceed with active support priorities in categories 1 and 2 of Department’s telegram under reference and an additional third group consisting of those American citizens whose citizenship will be terminated October 14, 1941 through operation of provisions of Section 404 of the Nationality Act. The [Page 418] requests for priority may be made both for air ships and for merchant vessels, it being understood that persons proceeding come at their own risk. The Department feels that the supporting of priority requests in bona fide cases by you should not be treated as a perfunctory matter by the British and that your requests should bring favorable results.
The reasons for this attitude are (1) the British officials are inviting persons in the United States to go to Britain and return assuring such persons priority on the planes for their return journey to Lisbon. Obviously if this can be done for persons making a round trip within 30 days those places for return voyage to Lisbon should be given to Americans who have been awaiting an opportunity to come for months, in some cases over a year. Secondly, because of the hundreds of reservations on trans-Atlantic ships recently made available to American workmen to go to England. Sending them to England implies an obligation to permit them to return. To permit them to return and to refuse other Americans is entirely inconsistent.
Reference last paragraph section 3 your 339431 suggestion use whaling ships via Iceland not feasible in any way at present time.
Department appreciates difficulties of this situation but the ability of the British to give people priority in and out when they wish it and the increasing number of Americans receiving safe and quick transportation to go abroad make this an acute problem which must be solved so that an appreciable number of Americans may make their way home.
The passport validation for the direct return should read “This passport is valid for one journey to the United States by belligerent ship over combat water if other transportation not reasonably available.”
Please consider this telegram and Department’s 3021 and cable fully procedure which you will follow. Department is informing the British Embassy of its position in this matter and of the great desirability that some equitable arrangement be worked out to avoid unpleasant reactions in this country.