882.7962/148

The British Minister (Campbell) to the Assistant Secretary of State (Berle)

2171/45/42

My Dear Mr. Berle: You will remember that on December 10th we had some conversation about the question of landing rights for the B.O.A.C.44 in Liberia. I reported our conversation to London [Page 703]and also to Lord Swinton, the Resident Minister at Accra. In doing so I let them know that our conversation had covered a fairly wide range and that we had, for instance, got onto the wider topic of relations between the services generally in West Africa, and steps it might be useful to take in that connection.

We have now had a telegram from Lord Swinton saying that he feels it is most important that the question of facilities at Roberts Field and Fisherman’s Lake should not get tangled up with wider issues. He points out that B.O.A.C. in Liberia will be operating strictly and solely for British Government account, and that we are asking nothing more in the way of facilities than United States aircraft have received at a large number of British aerodromes.

I think there is something in Lord Swinton’s point about the importance of disentangling this particular question from the wider issues to which you referred in our conversation and which presumably may take a certain amount of time to discuss. I feel sure that the intention you expressed to have it handled on this basis will help towards an early solution.

Lord Swinton has also raised in his telegram the issue of facilities for the Royal Air Force at Fisherman’s Lake and Roberts Field. Such facilities are again similar to those which United States aircraft receive at such a great number of Royal Air Force aerodromes, and at French airfields under the agreement between General Eisenhower and Monsieur Boisson.45 The Royal Air Force have however not yet been able to obtain facilities at the Liberian fields under the control of the United States authorities. You will remember that in our last conversation I informed you that General FitzGerald46 had spoken to Lord Swinton at Accra on November 30th about American plans for ferry and re-inforcement routes, which involved the use of facilities at Bathurst, that Lord Swinton had said he could count on being able to use these facilities and had then referred to the difficulties we were experiencing over the use of facilities in Liberia not only for the B.O.A.C. services but also for the operations of the Royal Air Force. Lord Swinton had not however been able to make any headway, since General FitzGerald expressed doubt that the facilities required by the Royal Air Force for their operations were really necessary. Since this is primarily a technical military matter, the pros and cons of which can, as you will I think agree, best be discussed between technicians, I am, now that Lord Swinton has again reverted to it, suggesting to the Joint Staff Mission here that it should be taken [Page 704]up with the Combined Chiefs of Staff. I feel, however, that you should be aware of the position.

Very sincerely yours,

R. I. Campbell
  1. British Overseas Airways Corporation.
  2. With regard to cooperation between the United States and the French authorities in French West Africa, see George F. Howe, Northwest Africa: Seizing the Initiative in the West, in the series United States Army in World War II: The Mediterranean Theater of Operations (Washington, Government Printing Office, 1957), pp. 271–272.
  3. Brig. Gen. S. W. Fitzgerald, Commanding General, United States Armed Forces in Central Africa.