The Secretary of State to the Consul General at St. John’s, Newfoundland (Hopper)
13. Your telegram no. 23, March 20, 5 p.m.94 The Meigle was reported to us in the first instance as a Canadian vessel with a cargo of codfish from St. Pierre-Miquelon. We therefore did not know of any Newfoundland interest in this vessel at the time we requested the Canadian Government to take steps to prevent the departure of this vessel for Martinique, Guadeloupe or St. Martin’s with its cargo of codfish.
Please get in touch immediately with the appropriate Newfoundland authorities and inform them orally in the following sense.
On March 8, last, the Acting Secretary of State informed the press, as the Newfoundland authorities may have noted, that no shipments of food had been made to Martinique from the United States since November 8, 1942. No funds are being released in the United States to permit those Islands to purchase food or other products. The codfish on board the Meigle was doubtless purchased with funds released prior to March 1. The Newfoundland authorities will of course understand that the purpose of this economic pressure is directly connected with the conduct of the war and is considered of great importance to the interests of all the United Nations. We consider it essential to have a more cooperative attitude from Admiral Robert. As the Newfoundland authorities probably know there are important units of the French Navy and a number of merchant vessels and tankers which have for many months been idle in Martinique.
All of the foregoing may be communicated in strict confidence orally to the Newfoundland authorities.
Please say to the Newfoundland authorities that we look to Newfoundland to cooperate with the United States in this matter. We therefore hope that the Newfoundland authorities will take the necessary action to prevent the Meigle from proceeding to Martinique, Guadeloupe, or St. Martin’s until shipments of foodstuffs from the United States to those Islands are resumed. There is a great need for food including codfish in French Guiana which as the Newfoundland [Page 235] authorities will be aware recently announced their allegiance to General Giraud. The American Government is doing everything it can to facilitate sending foodstuffs to French Guiana. We understand also that there is an urgent and pressing need for codfish in Puerto Rico. There should in these circumstances be no difficulty in diverting this vessel’s cargo.
Please telegraph a report on the result of your representations as soon as possible.
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