740.0011 European War 1939/20299: Telegram
The Consul at Tunis (Doolittle) to the Secretary of State
[Received March 13—4:32 p.m.]
44. My 35, March 3.33 Vice Consuls Woodruff and Utter report firsthand investigation during trips out: While Italian trucks are now [Page 148]shuttling between Tunis and Gabès, supplies by rail from Tunis for Libya have been stopped. Gasoline is still coming by train from Algeria via Kasserine to El Aouïnet station about 8 miles north of Gabès where its transshipment to German and Italian tank trucks is centralized for Libya. About 300 used trucks of North African origin still going monthly by rail to Gabès to be repaired and forwarded.
From January 3 to 16 exactly 1507 tons of gasoline were shipped plus 37 tons fuel oil and 22 lubricating oil. Since then gasoline figure increased well over 200 tons.
No landing facilities at Skirra though building project considered on coast about 3 miles north of lighthouse where water is 20 feet deep and where special military road leads to battery of 155’s on shore.
Two tugs have just been requisitioned by Germans to tow barges between Sousse and Zuara.
We understand that each French convoy leaving Sfax for France includes one special boat called “bateau comptoir” whose cargo is unloaded at Caronte near Marseille and entirely reshipped either to Genoa by sea or Germany by air. All fuel for these boats is furnished by Axis. PLM20 sunk March 1 was such a boat though peculiar position of funnel at stern gave appearance of tanker.
Our observations seem convincing that there are no Axis air bases in Tunisia though emergency landings entailing French servicing of planes are numerous and Axis commissions naturally use airfields freely.
Repeated to Vichy.
- Not printed.↩