Roosevelt Papers

Department of State Briefing Paper1


Santa Maria Airfield

Mr. Churchill probably will not raise the question of the second Azores airfield our Army Air Corps is anxious to operate on Santa [Page 230] Maria. The British are in agreement with us that this is a matter for direct negotiation as between us and the Portuguese. The British Ambassador in Lisbon2 did not mention Santa Maria in communicating to Dr. Salazar the Combined Chiefs of Staff decision respecting Portuguese participation in a Timor expedition.3

It would appear unnecessary, and perhaps unwise, for us to take the initiative in reopening with the British any discussion of the airfield now under construction by us in the Island of Santa Maria, or of American use and control of the airfield when constructed.

Should Mr. Churchill raise the question4 it would be well to make clear to him that the negotiations leading up to the granting of this facility by the Portuguese Government have been conducted directly between the American and Portuguese Governments and have not been related in any way to the Anglo-Portuguese Agreement of August 17, 19435 or to the alliance of 1373;6 and that our Air Corps expects to operate the field directly. In these negotiations it has been agreed that the guise of an American commercial enterprise, namely Pan-American Airways, would be employed to cover the interest of the American Government in the project. No question of control or utilization of the field for post-war civil aviation purposes is involved.

  1. Annex 9 to Hull’s memorandum to Roosevelt dated September 6, 1944, which was sent to the White House under cover of a further memorandum of September 8. See ante, p. 120.
  2. Sir Ronald Hugh Campbell.
  3. For correspondence on Portuguese interest in the liberation of Timor and on negotiations for the construction of facilities on the island of Santa Maria in the Azores, see Foreign Relations, 1944, vol. iv, pp. 1 ff.
  4. No evidence has been found that Churchill raised this question with Roosevelt at the Second Quebec Conference.
  5. For text, see British and Foreign State Papers, vol. cxlvi, p. 447; Documentos relativos aos acordos entre Portugal, Inglaterra e Fstados Unidos da América para a coneessão de facilidades nos Acores durante a guerra de 1939–1945 (Lisbon: Inrpronsa Naclonal de Lisboa, 1946), p. 19.
  6. The reference is to the Treaty of London of June 16, 1373. See British and Foreign State Papers, vol. i, p. 462.