845.5018/49: Telegram

The Officer in Charge at New Delhi (Merrell) to the Secretary of State

679. Reuters despatches published Indian press are giving widespread impression that US Government has received no information from its representatives in India on Bengal famine and is indifferent. Consul General’s acknowledgment of Mayor Calcutta’s telegram to [Page 302] President has not diminished criticism mentioned in Steele78 despatch Chicago News which extensively quoted in Indian press through Reuters. Piecemeal and uninformed statements attributed to OFFR79 and OLLA80 are having unfortunate effect.

Cannot the Department issue a statement that distressing situation Eastern India has been fully reported by Mission and Consulate General since it began to develop last year; that former large American grain reserves have been depleted by large shipments to Russia, England, North Africa, Sicily to point of serious shortages at home;. that pressure on shipping for these movements and for several war fronts is enormous; that we hope greater movement of surpluses from Northern India to Bengal will materially relieve distress until new crop December, and that meanwhile no opportunity to collaborate with British relief efforts will be overlooked and food for our forces in India will be supplied as fully as possible from United States.

For Department’s confidential information Mission has impression our military here indifferent to Bengal situation and implications and regard them as exclusively British concern. Mission is apprehensive that growing Indian criticism of Washington ignorance and indifference may soon affect our prestige and economic as well as military operations more than the Army realizes. If any statement is made please telegraph Mission full text for India release to offset possible distortion by Reuters. It would also be helpful to stop statements in Washington by officials not concerned with India.

  1. Archibald T. Steele, newspaper correspondent.
  2. Office of Foreign Relief and Rehabilitation Operations.
  3. Office of Lend-Lease Administration.