862.24/596: Telegram

The Acting Secretary of State to the Ambassador in France (Leahy)

127. Murphy’s telegram 111, February 18, 3 p.m. relating to delivery of aviation and automotive gasoline to the Axis forces. You are requested to bring this report to the attention of the Foreign Office pointing out that these deliveries constitute the supply of important military matériel, and that they exceed the terms of the Armistice agreement. The French authorities in North Africa have repeatedly requested that supplies of petroleum products and in particular gasoline be made available to the civilian population of North Africa, alleging the urgency of this demand because of the scarcity of gasoline in that area. It is now learned that nearly 2000 tons of gasoline which might have been made available for these urgent civilian requirements are now being delivered to the Axis forces. It is obvious that if such deliveries continue no petroleum products can be delivered to North Africa and that if the North African agreement is [Page 141]considered by French authorities as having ceased to operate the reasons therefor are based on unilateral action on the part of the French authorities.

In view of the great importance of gasoline as a military supply you should add in connection with the last sentence of your 268 February 21 that this Government attaches the utmost importance to the assurances to be received which should include such supplies of a military character.