740.00112 European War 1939/7058

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

Participants: Mr. Paul Guérin, French Embassy
{ Mr. Fleming
Mr. Fagan, Board of Economic Warfare
Mr. Wasson
Mr. Villard

Mr. Guérin explained that the French commercial services had been unable to purchase enough of the authorized goods to fill up the two accord vessels now preparing to load at New Orleans. He, therefore, requested authorization from this Government to load an additional 200 tons of leaf tobacco, 200 tons of used clothing, and 2,000 tons of coal.

Mr. Fagan said that while the BEW would raise no objection to the additional 200 tons of tobacco, he could not agree either to the coal or the used clothing. He said that enough used clothing had already been authorized to furnish several thousand suits, overcoats, etc., and that the additional request could not be justified. Mr. Fagan said that with respect to coal a sufficient supply already existed in North Africa to maintain the railroads and industrial establishments at their present levels of operation.

[Page 386]

Mr. Villard read an extract from a report submitted on September 29th by Mr. Murphy estimating that the coal resources of Algeria were able to furnish seventeen per cent of the minimum normal needs of that area even when the mines were working with government encouragement. Mr. Fagan remarked that other mines in Morocco could supplement the output. Mr. Guérin replied that the Moroccan mines were of poor quality and that the product could not be considered suitable for current needs. Mr. Fagan said that it was not desired to encourage the operation of the railroads in North Africa because they were transporting supplies destined eventually for Germany. He inquired of Mr. Guérin why it was necessary in any case to fill up the vessels now in New Orleans, in reply to which Mr. Guérin stated that the inhabitants of North Africa were so desperately in need of supplies that he would like to fill the vessels “to the top of the masts” if that were possible.

Mr. Fleming stated that the BEW would not approve the request for coal or used clothing, but that the French might take 400 tons of tobacco instead. Mr. Villard suggested that the matter might be referred to higher sources, to which Mr. Fagan replied that the BEW took its instructions from the Vice-President.72

It was finally agreed to bring up the matter at the regular weekly meeting of the Inter-departmental Committee on North African Shipments, when the BEW representatives would explain the reasons for the refusal of the application for coal and used clothing.

  1. Henry A. Wallace, Vice President of the United States. Mr. Wallace was also Chairman of the Board of Economic Warfare.