J.C.S. Files

Memorandum by the Representatives of the British Chiefs of Staff1

most secret
C.C.S. 270/5

Land Airport Facilities in the Azores

Further information has now been received from the British Chiefs of Staff in relation to the subject of the facilities in the Azores.
As you know, both diplomatic and neutral [military?] channels have been concerned and we feel that perhaps a brief summary of the action that has taken place in this matter may be of value.
As long ago as 29 June the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs handed the U.S. Ambassador in London a message from the Prime Minister for the President,2 informing him of the progress then made in connection with our request to the Portuguese for facilities and in particular of Salazar’s stipulation that under no circumstances could he agree to admit forces other than British, except perhaps in the event of Portugal becoming fully involved in the war. In this message hope [Page 611] was expressed that in view of approach to the Portuguese being made on the basis of Anglo-Portuguese alliance,3 the President would agree that we should conclude an agreement with the Portuguese on the lines desired by Salazar. At a later stage it should be possible to secure Portuguese assent to the use of the facilities by the forces of other of the United Nations. No reply had ever been received previously, indicating the views of the President, and in the absence of any expression of disagreement, it was reasonable to assume that no serious U.S. objection was seen to any of the proposals. The U.S. Government have been kept fully informed of the trend of the negotiations.
Subsequently, you will remember, came the U.S. proposal set out in C.C.S. 270.4 This proposal, which was to the effect that landing rights should be granted to American land planes in the Islands, might have raised difficulties in the delicate negotiations that were then in progress and at the request of the British the U.S. Government agreed that their proposal should not to be pressed at the present time since no great difficulty was anticipated in arranging landing rights for American aircraft as soon as the negotiations were satisfactorily concluded. It was then decided on 16 July that this matter of landing rights for American aircraft should be left over pending the conclusion of the present negotiations and a notification to this effect was given through both diplomatic and military channels.5
It was in the light of the above, therefore, that the following decisions were taken:
To seek the inclusion of reference to transit facilities for aircraft of the United Nations in the agreement but not to press proposal so far as to risk breakdown on this issue.
Not at this stage to ask for full operational facilities in the islands for U.S. military, air ferry and transport operations.
To seek to extend benefit of our arrangements to the U.S. immediately we ourselves have entered the Islands.
We hope that this will make the situation clear. We have every intention of insuring that such facilities as may become available shall be at the disposal of both the U.S. and the British. The approach, however, is a delicate one and is based on the long-standing Anglo-Portuguese [Page 612] alliance. Once the scruples and fears of the Portuguese have been overcome we feel that everything should soon progress steadily.
  1. For the discussion of the subject of this paper at the 111th Meeting of the Combined Chiefs of Staff, August 18, 1943, see post, p. 886.
  2. See Foreign Relations, 1943, vol. ii, pp. 534535.
  3. The Anglo-Portuguese alliance had its roots in the Treaty of London of June 16, 1373, and the Treaty of Windsor of May 9, 1386. See British and Foreign State Papers, vol. i, pp. 462, 468.
  4. “Land Airport Facilities in the Azores (Negotiations by Pan American Airways, Inc.)”, July 7, 1943; not printed as such, but see the letter from Leahy to Hull of the same date on this subject, Foreign Relations, 1943, vol. ii, p. 538.
  5. For instructions of July 26, 1943, for Winant to take this subject up with the British Foreign Office and for his reply of August 5, 1943, to the effect that the Foreign Office felt “that this matter should be held in abeyance so as not to interfere with certain current negotiations”, see ibid., pp. 539540.