The Ambassador in the United Kingdom (Winant) to the Secretary of State
[Received September 12—11:45 a.m.]
4233. Immediately on receipt of your 3021, August 8, 1 p.m., I saw not only Eden34 but also the Secretary of State for Air and the [Page 420] Ministers of Health and Information. I was able to get immediate action on the doctors and nurses mentioned in numbered paragraph 1. Those who were waiting and ready to go were given air transportation to Lisbon and the others were placed on a schedule acceptable to them for transportation to Lisbon.
On receipt of your 3603, September 5, 6 p.m., I again called on Eden and have a promise from him that everything will be done that can be done. The apparent increase in transportation facilities because of the British and American ferry services does not in reality relieve the situation as far as private persons are concerned. The American plane service under direct orders of the President carries only military and naval or air personnel and occasionally civilian officials whose missions are of an urgent character in relation to the war effort. The British service on return trips to the United States because of the ferry of increased numbers of American aircraft to Great Britain is crowded with returning pilots and crews.
It is also a fact that the three serious accidents which have occurred in the last month have in each instance stopped such flights for intervals of time necessary for investigation. The death rate of these planes averaged over the last 2 months was such that even if civilians could have been placed I believe the results would have given rise to more serious criticism than failure to give private persons bookings on these planes.
We have been working on this problem for weeks and three officers have for a fortnight been giving their entire time to it. I believe the authority given in your 3603, September 5, 6 p.m. for validation of passports to return to the United States directly or via Canada as well as via Portugal should greatly facilitate progress. Since the receipt of your 3602  we have circularized through the consular offices all the Americans in the United Kingdom known to us in the categories mentioned. Your announcement of this action for validation of passports was helpful here as well as your reported statement that the Germans had refused a safe conduct to an American vessel to be despatched to the British Isles for repatriation of Americans.35 In working out the execution of this plan we are making every endeavor to have those Americans who will return to the United States by sea placed on fast ships in the safer convoys.