740.00112 European War 1939/6728

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

Participants: Admiral Leahy
Commander Friesman55
Mr. Canfield, BEW
Mr. Villard

Mr. Canfield arranged the appointment with Commander Friesman in order to lay before him the objections of the Board of Economic Warfare to allowing certain cotton textiles to remain in French North Africa as a gesture of good-will at this time. After the matter had been explained to Commander Friesman, Admiral Leahy invited the persons concerned to discuss the matter with him.

Mr. Canfield asked the Admiral to read the objections of the Board of Economic Warfare. Admiral Leahy then reiterated the points which he had made at the conference with Mr. Canfield and [Page 376] Mr. Villard on September 7, namely, that the President had directed us to make every effort to placate the French at this time in North Africa, and to induce a feeling of good-will. Admiral Leahy expressed the opinion that in view of these facts it would be desirable to permit the textiles to remain in North Africa for local consumption under the supervision of the American control officers.

Mr. Canfield suggested that a provision be inserted in the telegram requiring the control officers to supervise the processing and tailoring of the goods, which would then be returned in finished form to the control officers and individually issued by them to the inhabitants of North Africa. Admiral Leahy said that he could not subscribe to a proposal of this kind in view of the absence of any knowledge as to the facilities which would be available for carrying out such a plan. Admiral Leahy asked Mr. Canfield whether he had ever heard of any failure on the part of the control officers to exercise their functions properly. Mr. Canfield replied in the negative.

Admiral Leahy once more explained that we should do everything possible to accommodate the French at this time, even though it involved some slight risk of a few driblets of goods reaching the enemy. He said that he had the fullest confidence in Mr. Murphy’s judgment and that we should be guided by Mr. Murphy’s recommendations in reaching decisions on difficult technical problems. Admiral Leahy said once again that we should expedite shipments to North Africa right now, and that we will know within two or three months whether we shall continue them or not.

  1. Cmdr. W. L. Freseman, Aide to Admiral Leahy.