825.248/225½: Telegram

The Ambassador in Chile (Bowers) to the Secretary of State

118. The following telegram has been sent to Rio de Janeiro.

January 20, 11 p.m. For the Under Secretary. Supplementing my telegram of today, (paraphrase), repeated to the Department under No. 117, January 20, 10 p.m. Colonel Niergarth, Chief of Military Air Mission here, in a report to General Miles,11 sent to the Department by air today said, in substance, the following with regard to Chilean defense needs:

Whenever mentioning the electric plants at Tocopilla, Coya and Barquitos powering the Chilean copper production which we so urgently need, Niergarth said if these important objectives along some 800 miles of Chilean coast down to Pall (aviation gas tanks) could have an off shore patrol 500 miles to sea he believes a surprise attack could be avoided. He personally thinks that Japan when it suits her convenience would make a hit and run aerial attack against these points which at present could be done with impunity. After the attack the United States would be able to find planes for an off shore patrol, so why not make an effort and provide them before the attack. The Axis will, he believes, not launch a major attack on the United States before trying to get control of our outposts of which Chile is one. Therefore, the majority of our combat planes should be in the outposts. He recommends that under Lend Lease12 or any other device at least twelve 2-engine long range reconnaissance land planes be turned over to Chile for off shore patrol duty.

I am not in a position to give an estimate as to minimum naval assistance required by Chile at this juncture.

As stated in my telegram under reference it does not appear at present to be a matter of land fighting equipment but a prompt answer should be given to the Chilean Chief of Staff’s13 estimate of needed materials transmitted in the Department’s strictly confidential instruction 964 of December 31.14 That estimate included 102 twenty millimeter anti-aircraft guns and 48 thirty-seven millimeter antiaircraft guns with ammunition and trucks for the larger size. Actually of course no such number would be needed to protect the few strategic coast points.

  1. Brig. Gen. Sherman Miles, Assistant Chief of Staff.
  2. Act approved March 11, 1941; 55 Stat. 31.
  3. Gen. Oscar Escudero.
  4. Not printed.