859A.20/337: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Minister in Iceland (Morris)

336. Your 420, August 9 and despatch 178, August 11.14

You may deliver to the Foreign Minister the following aide-mémoire which has been approved by the United States Joint Chiefs of Staff:

“The Government of the United States has considered the aide-mémoire dated August 7, 1943 regarding the protection of Iceland by United States forces.

The bulk of the British forces in Iceland having been withdrawn and the transport of United States forces having reached the point where their strength was considered sufficient for the defense of Iceland, the United States authorities on April 22, 1942 assumed command of the military forces in Iceland. This date can therefore be regarded as that referred to in point I of the Icelandic aide-mémoire.

As regards point II of the Icelandic aide-mémoire, the circumstances as they existed on July 1, 1941 have been changed by the entry of the United States into the war. The United Nations, including the United States, must be free to dispose their joint military forces as thought best for the successful conduct of the war. While the responsibility for the protection of Iceland rests with the United States, it has been found necessary for operational reasons to maintain certain British personnel, and Allied personnel under British operational control, in Iceland. These forces, including the Norwegian forces now under United States operational control, should not be regarded as being left over from the original British force sent to deny Iceland to the enemy, but are there to perform special tasks in connection with the defense of Iceland from attack by German air and naval forces and to keep open the sea routes for the commerce of Iceland and of the United Nations.

With respect to point III of the Icelandic aide-mémoire, the Government of the United States entertains no doubt as to the intention of other governments of the United Nations which now have military personnel stationed in Iceland to withdraw such personnel after the conclusion of the present war. The Government of the United States understands in this connection that His Majesty’s Government in the United Kingdom considers that the promise made by the President of the United States in respect of the withdrawal of United States forces in Iceland applies no less to British forces, and other forces [Page 313] under British operational control, and intends to give the Government of Iceland assurances in this sense.”

For your confidential information the Department understands that the British Government will also inform the Icelandic Government along the foregoing lines but with specific reference to point III of the Icelandic aide-mémoire will say in substance that it has never been the intention of the British Government to retain forces in Iceland after the conclusion of the war and that accordingly the Icelandic Government may be assured that the President’s promise in respect to the withdrawal of American forces in Iceland applies no less to British forces and other forces under British operational control.
  1. Neither printed.