740.00114A European War 1939/108: Telegram
The Chargé at Tangier (Childs) to the Secretary of State
[Received 9:55 p.m.]
602. Department’s 215, November 11. I addressed a note to General Orgaz which was delivered to him at noon asking that a strict guard be placed around these planes.[Page 517]
I asked if it might not be possible for me to place the Legation’s seals on the planes. He said he did not know what international law was on the subject and I said I did not either as such problems were so new. He said he was seeing Orgaz in 2 hours and would raise the question and hoped it might be possible to accede to this request.
I said I had another matter to mention and that was the request Orgaz had made of me that we cooperate with him in maintaining the neutrality of Spanish Morocco by refraining from activities amongst the native population and other activities likely to disturb the local situation. I said I had cautioned my staff, had informed them of the assurances I had given both Orgaz and he himself and that some questions had arisen in our minds concerning the extent of the assurances which were being sought and obtained from the Axis representatives. I emphasized the importance of this. Castillo referred to my mention yesterday of the two civil members of the Italian Armistice Commission and said that they were not interned at Ceuta and that orders had been given that all members of the Armistice Commissions from French North Africa whether civil or otherwise be interned.
I said that I knew he had many matters to consider but one to which I hoped he would devote some thought in the immediate future was that of our interned aviators. I recalled that the Spanish authorities had released a number of British aviators interned in Spanish Morocco against Axis aviators who had made forced landings on Spanish protected territory (I did not think the present moment propitious for going into details with Castillo but it seems to me that we might eventually effect the release of our aviators against the release of the German and Italian Armistice Commission members who may be interned in Spanish North Africa). Castillo said he would give this the most favorable consideration and that he thought the Spanish Government would be quite disposed to effect any arrangement which might be found mutually satisfactory to the American Government on the one hand in the case of the American interned aviators and the Axis Government on the other in the case of their interned belligerent forces.
I do not believe that there is any possibility at the present time of effecting the release of these aviators on any other basis than an exchange against Axis interned personnel. I believe that with patience [Page 518]we may succeed in effecting their release pari passu against Axis nationals. This has been the experience of the British (see my despatch 967, August 1192). Seven British aviators have lately been released against the release of seven Axis aviators by Spain.