740.00112 European War 1939/2514

Memorandum of Conversation, by the Assistant Chief of the Division of Near Eastern Affairs (Villard)

Participants: Lt. Comdr. J. L. Riheldaffer, Navy Dept.
Lt. Cranwell, War Dept.
Mr. Robert Murphy34
Mr. Villard

A conference was held today with representatives of the War and Navy Departments in regard to the stationing of control officers in North Africa for the purpose of supervising the distribution of products sent from the United States. The contents of this Division’s memorandum of April 7 were discussed with the officers present and a list was furnished them of the places in Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia suggested by Mr. David Eccles35 as the most suitable for the exercise of control. Mr. Robert Murphy concurred in this list and made suggestions in regard to living conditions.

Lt. Cranwell stated that the War Department intended to assign a military Attaché to the Legation at Tangier in the immediate future and that it would therefore not be necessary to station a control officer at that point. He said that the War Department had in mind five candidates to send to Africa, who, however, still had to pass their physical examinations. It was pointed out that our understanding from General Miles was that ten officers were to be available and that, in view of the recommendation by Mr. Eccles that officers operate in pairs wherever possible, it might be necessary to assign even more personnel to this work.

Lt. Cranwell inquired who was to pay the transportation and subsistence allowances of the officers going to Africa. He stated that the War Department would pay their salaries but had no other funds available until after July 1. He was informed that this matter was being discussed in the Department and that a reply would be conveyed as soon as possible.

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The question arose as to how the officers were to reach their assigned posts. It was pointed out that the easiest means would be to travel on the French vessels carrying the first cargoes of supplies, to which the French had already agreed. The point remained of obtaining the authorization of this Government to travel on a belligerent vessel to a belligerent zone, which, however, could be taken care of as soon as we knew the names of the officers. Mr. Murphy suggested that two officers should proceed as soon as possible by Clipper plane in order to make preliminary arrangements and as evidence that we mean to go ahead as rapidly as we can.

Both the War and Navy representatives requested that written communications be addressed to their respective Departments making formal request for the selection and assignment of the control officers. Lt. Cranwell pointed out that background information is lacking on which to base instructions to the officers selected and which would be necessary to guide them in their duties. It was agreed that before the officers left for Africa they would be given an oral outline by a representative of the State Department as to the object of their service.

  1. Counselor of Embassy in France, on special assignment to French North Africa, temporarily in the United States.
  2. Representative of the British Ministry of Economic Warfare at the British Embassy in Washington with primary responsibilities for North African matters.