851U.7962/7: Telegram

The Ambassador in the United Kingdom (Winant) to the Secretary of State 21

4206. General Bolte on July 23 in accordance with the request contained in Department’s telegram No. 3357, July 20, 11 p.m.22 informed General de Gaulle of the Department’s instruction to the American Consul General at Brazzaville. Bolte emphasized the desirability of having the question quickly and smoothly settled and requested an expression of approval from the French National Committee in London. Under date of July 25 General de Gaulle has now informed General Bolte as follows (translation):

“I am happy to confirm to you that I have authorized the local authorities of French Equatorial Africa to discuss with the United States Consul General at Brazzaville and the American technical experts the technical questions concerned with the improvement and the utilization by the American Army of the facilities of the airport at Pointe Noire, as well as the installations which may be necessary for the supply of gasoline.

I take this occasion to recall to you the important security considerations which we have already reported to the Government of the United States and which oblige us to make the effective utilization of the airport at Pointe Noire dependent on an arrangement [Page 577]with the American authorities for the furnishing the French forces of a small number of transport aircraft indispensable to the security of the territory. The utilization of the air base at Pointe Noire by the American forces will, in effect, constitute an additional reason for the Axis to direct its attention and perhaps its activities towards French Equatorial Africa, especially as a consequence of the recent operations in Northern Libya and Egypt, for one thing, and also as a retaliation for the raids by my troops in the Tchad and Southern Libya, for another thing. The renewed flying over our coastal areas in the course of the last few weeks by Spanish aircraft, the reported presence of submarines in the Gulf of Guinea, the reinforcements of the garrisons at Rio Muni and at Fernando Po, the constitution at Angola of a very active intelligence service, including the possibility of the organization of infiltration into our territory through Cabinda (Kabinda) and the coast, and finally numerous air bombardments of our posts in the Tchad make it necessary that the French Command have at its disposal some liaison and transport aircraft to permit it at any moment to reach any point in the very vast territory which constitutes Free French Africa. I will be much obliged if you will present these considerations to the competent American authorities in order to explain our reasons for attaching such an importance to the furnishing of the few aircraft which we have been asking for for the past several months. You may also inform them of my hope in our common interest to see that all the arrangements concerning the airport at Pointe Noire are concluded as rapidly as possible.”

General Bolte states that he has no information concerning any previous negotiations or requests with regard to the aircraft referred to above but that he recommends favorable consideration and asks to be informed of any decision taken with respect thereto.

Winant
  1. Substance repeated to the Consul at Brazzaville in telegram No. 76, July 29. 9 p.m.
  2. See footnote 16, p. 572.