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

The Greek Minister called on me by appointment this morning with further reference to the information that he had conveyed to me last Saturday afternoon that his Government was accepting the thirty Mohawk planes offered by the British.

The Minister has now received a telegram from his Government on this same subject, informing the Minister that in accepting this British proposal the Greek Government wished to be assured that (one) the Mohawk planes are new and that (two) the necessary spare parts will be made available at the same time. The Minister was instructed to ascertain how the Greek Government might be assured with regard to points one and two above.

I told the Minister that since the Mohawk planes were being furnished by the British, we must of course assume that discussions had taken place between the British and the Greek authorities, and that it appeared only reasonable to expect that the desired assurances should be furnished by the British themselves. The Minister asked whether he might state to his Government that this viewpoint had been expressed at the Department of State, and I said that I saw no objection.

Turning then to the question of transport, the Minister said he wished to inform me in the strictest confidence that he had already inquired of his Government by telegraph whether it would authorize him to offer Greek ships to transport the thirty Tomahawk planes later to Basra. The Minister feels that if the answer of his Government is in the affirmative this might offer a solution of the difficulty in which we now find ourselves owing to the provisions of the Neutrality Act. He emphasized that under no condition was this suggested solution of the problem to be mentioned outside the Department for the time being.

In this general connection the Minister also wishes to know whether planes shipped abroad are sent in cases or whether they are shipped entirely set up. This information apparently would be of help to him in connection with the inquiry which he has made of his Government.

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With reference to the paragraph marked strictly confidential above,65 the Greek Minister informed me subsequently that he had received a telegram from his Government authorizing him to offer Greek vessels to transport the thirty Tomahawk planes to Basra.

With regard to the Minister’s inquiry whether planes shipped abroad are sent in cases or entirely set up, the Minister has been informed that according to the Department’s understanding, it is impracticable to ship airplanes in any manner except boxed.

  1. Paragraph beginning “Turning then to the question of transport”.