The Consul at Brazzaville (Taylor) to the Secretary of State
[Received August 31.]
Subject: Memorandum of agreement between Free French at Brazzaville and American Army Representatives.
Sir: I have the honor to refer to my telegraphic despatch No. 67 of August 4, 1942 concerning the agreement, in principle, on technical questions regarding the American aviation installation at Pointe-Noire.
On August 4, 1942 American Army representatives visited Brazzaville and were introduced by the undersigned to Secretary General Laurentie and the Director of Public Works, Mr. Lauraint, at a meeting which had been previously arranged. The Army Officers present were Colonel F. C. Hyde, Colonel T. O. Hardin, Lt. Colonel W. M. Todd and Major Henderson. It was decided to refrain from a discussion of any past grievances, particularly the difficulties encountered with regard to the berthing of the Calhoun at Pointe-Noire and to avoid the political aspect of the question particularly with regard to the Free French request for American aeroplanes to serve for interior communication.
During the conversation Colonel Hyde presented a list of improvements in facilities and services desired at Pointe-Noire. The response of the Administration Officials is given in the Memorandum.28 The Military questions were discussed later by Secretary General Laurentie and General Leclerc and the General’s approval given to the responses made.
For the Department’s information, further background may be added to the questions involved as follows:
- The John C. Calhoun entered Pointe-Noire harbor on July 25, 1942. The quay was filled with freighters which were either charging or discharging and ships undergoing repair. On July 30 the Port authorities stated that it would not be possible to berth the Calhoun before August 3. Captain Vann United States Engineers who is stationed at Leopoldville and was in charge of American Army activity at Pointe-Noire ordered the Calhoun to leave port on July 30 and proceed to Matadi. It is to prevent a repetition of [Page 581]such an incident that the priority demand was made. The Port authorities and the Administration are not able, however to grant simple priority without an agreement with the British Admiralty because of existing contracts.
- Since the Free French have very little of any kind of construction material the question is academic.
- Occasional use of the Railway telephone between Pointe-Noire and Brazzaville has been accorded to me and will be extended to the American Army. In order to get a connection to Leopoldville, wire and exchange equipment from the United States will be needed as the present equipment is very bad and there is none in reserve.
- 6. [4?]
- The second runway is a new idea which should have been decided on before. It will complicate matters to start work on that project when the labor is needed to build the camp and dispersal field. Possibly the runway can wait until the camp is built.
- The control of the mechanics of landing and taking off will have to be in American hands. Whether a French officer should be placed over the whole base and what his power would be may be one of the questions the Department of State may want to discuss with the National Committee.
- I do not assume that there will be any objection to the establishment of a radio station which will meet the needs of the American service. There are not enough trained men to operate the French stations during twenty four hours. It is anticipated that enough Americans will be added to the staff to assume continuity of service.
- The use of American personnel will guarantee continuous service.
Another question was discussed by Colonel Hyde and not mentioned in Secretary General Laurentie’s memorandum. Colonel Hyde requested that all charges for unloading, dockage, storage and transportation which should be payable to a government owned or controlled agency, should be entered on the books as charges against the United States Government and settled sometime later under the terms of the Lend-Lease agreement. This may be a matter for the discussion between the Department and the National Committee. It should be remembered, however, that the economy of this Colony is maintained by means of British funds. Any financial burdens placed on the Free French will, probably, eventually have to be met by the British.
Another question discussed and not included in the memorandum is an agreement on the part of the Free French to find, hire and put to work, on American undertakings at Pointe-Noire before [Page 582]August 20, not less than 300 native laborers. The expenses will be paid by the American Army.
The second enclosure29 is the memorandum prepared by Colonel Hyde covering the same meeting and also the agreements reached at Pointe-Noire with Mr. Lauraint the day before the meeting in Brazzaville.