840.24/12–1544: Telegram

The Secretary of State to President Roosevelt 34

A situation has developed with regard to shipping which I hesitate to get into at all in view of the urgent and paramount requirements in this field for the supply of our Armed Forces. Nevertheless, as a result of a lack of essential civilian supplies, conditions are developing in Europe which may produce the gravest consequences and which I feel I should bring to your attention.

Greece is an illustration and the same type of situation exists in Italy. Belgium is close to disorder. It was possible for a short time after liberation to prevent “disease and unrest” with minimum food and medical supplies. Now something more is required. The alternative would appear to be persistent disorder and delay in the firm establishment of democratic forms of government in these countries. In addition to food and direct relief supplies, a few essential raw materials and items of equipment necessary to put idle hands to work in producing and distributing goods seem desperately needed.

I, therefore, recommend, first, that you appoint someone who can, in consultation with the highest civilian and military authorities, review the overall shipping situation to see whether our political and military objectives require further accommodation to the shipping currently at our disposal. A recommendation can then be made to you for a decision on the use of ships in operational needs and the civilian programs for liberated areas; second, that as rapidly as possible separate allocations of shipping outside of the military pool be made directly to the governments of the liberated countries. Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Forces has promised the inland transport, assigned the port space, and endorsed the request of the French and Belgian Governments for the separate shipping allocation. [Page 325] The War Shipping Administration strongly favors it. These Governments have a large number of their own ships in the Allied pool. At best the amount of shipping which could be made available is far less than is needed, and these Governments will ration their tonnage to the most essential items.

Should the War Shipping Administration be given this authority, it should consult the appropriate agencies of the Government for guidance on policy.

  1. The President was temporarily in Warm Springs, Georgia.