711.94114 Supplies/18: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Ambassador in the Soviet Union ( Standley )

835. Your 1264, September 4, 1 p.m. Please express to the appropriate Soviet authorities this Government’s grateful appreciation of the Soviet Government’s kind acquiescence to the United States Government’s request for authorization to begin immediately shipments of relief supplies destined for the use of American and other Allied nationals in Japanese custody in the Far East in Soviet vessels proceeding from the American West Coast to Vladivostok, such supplies to be held there until final arrangements with the Japanese Government concerning their onward transmission shall have been made.

It appears from the text of the Soviet note, as paraphrased in your reference telegram, that the Soviet Government has gained the impression that this Government was motivated, in part at least, in re-opening this matter by a fear that there might be some delay on the part of the Soviet authorities in connection with delivery of supplies to the transfer point for onward shipment to Japan when arrangements with the Japanese Government in this regard shall have been completed. Please inform the appropriate Soviet authorities, in connection with the expression of gratitude mentioned above, that this Government had not the slightest thought in this respect and was motivated solely by a desire to save the time that would be required, when the arrangements with the Japanese Government shall have been completed, in shipping relief supplies from the United States to the Soviet Union by having the supplies in storage on Soviet territory at a point near Japanese-controlled territory so that they [Page 818] may be forwarded into the prison camps with a minimum of delay as soon as the necessary arrangements with Japan are completed.

In answer to the Soviet Government’s suggestion that the American public has not been sufficiently or correctly informed of the actual position of the Soviet Government, you might point out that the Department made public announcement, by a press release on July 17,4 of the Soviet Government’s readiness to assist with the shipment of medicines and other relief supplies to American prisoners of war and internees in the Far East by facilitating the shipment of such supplies through Soviet territory to Japan in case satisfactory arrangements should be made by the United States with Japan. Nevertheless the public, knowing that Soviet ships are plying from our West Coast to Vladivostok with Lend-Lease supplies, has insisted that those ships could carry relief supplies for storage on Soviet territory against the time when they could be expeditiously forwarded to Japan for our people in Japanese custody. The assent of the Soviet Government to such shipments will terminate that insistence and relieve this Government of criticism for failure to expedite the shipment of the supplies as far as we are able. It should be noted in this connection that the supplies are to include supplies for the other United Nations prisoners in Japanese custody.

  1. In this press release (Department of State Bulletin, July 17, 1943, p. 31) it was noted that the Gripsholm was expected to start soon upon its second voyage to the Far East and to carry “several months’ supply of medicines and concentrated foodstuffs” along with “Japanese nationals to be exchanged for American civilians”. Supplies and mail were shipped from the United States on the Gripsholm for prisoners of war and civilian internees. These articles were carried to the port of Mormugão on the Goa peninsula in Portuguese India where they were transferred in October to the Japanese exchange ship Teia Maru. This ship called only at Singapore, Manila, and Yokohama, but not at Hong Kong and Shanghai as earlier expected. Cargo consigned to these two ports was carried through to Yokohama in December, where it was unloaded for later transshipment. Because of unanticipated delay in the onward movement, the Department on January 10, 1944, requested the Swiss Government to urge Japan to forward the supplies and mail by such other means as might be available.