811.34553B/57: Telegram

The Minister in Portugal (Norweb) to the Secretary of State

116. For the Secretary and Matthews.20 As I reported in my 107 of January 12,21 Dr. Salazar in my interview with him last evening undertook to send instructions to the Azores which would permit of the landing of the personnel and equipment carried by the Liberty ship and two landing barges scheduled to arrive at Terceira at any moment.

Salazar received favorably the suggestion that the Pan American Airways should conduct the requisite survey and indicated that as soon as he had an opportunity to consult with his experts, an answer would be forthcoming. In response to an inquiry, I made Mr. Long’s22 presence in Lisbon known to him and he asked whether there was any [Page 6] objection to his getting in touch with Mr. Long directly about this matter, to which I interposed no objection. Although he was not at all specific, I got the impression that Salazar has his eye somewhat fixed on the development of Horta. He has given orders for the extension of the new Sacarvem field outside of Lisbon with a view to its utilization by trans-Atlantic land planes.

On January 6 the British Ambassador saw Salazar and presented to him a memorandum having mainly to do with the extension of the Lagens Field. On the following day Campbell showed me this memo and gave me an account of his interview (despatch 100, January 7 with memo enclosed). In the course of this memorandum reference was made to the anti-submarine squadrons “including one U.S. Navy squadron on loan to the British Government”. This phraseology caught Dr. Salazar’s attention and he informed Campbell that he could not permit such an operational use as basing an American combat air squadron in the Azores. The British Ambassador stated that all his arguments were unavailing. I immediately sought an interview with Salazar to effect clarification for he had interposed no such objection during my interview with him Monday, December 31 (No. 3131 December 31)23 and in Kennan’s interview with him on December 2 this subject had come under specific reference and Salazar had only said that it must be subject to the general rule that formula be found to reconcile the practice with the British agreement (paragraph numbered 1, 2911 December 224).

When I brought this matter up and referred to above interviews Salazar said that he had thought about this matter a great deal and had finally concluded that operation of American air combat unit, whose identity as a unit was American, was beyond scope of Anglo-Portuguese Agreement. He went on to point out that facilities not dissimilar from this, which are granted to other than British ships, were specifically envisaged in Anglo-Portuguese Agreement and those for airplanes were not so contemplated. All arguments I brought to bear failed to move him for, I think, reasons given in paragraph numbered 2 of 2911, December 2 and 101, January 12.25 Clearly, it was the fact that identity could be unmistakably established of an American air unit which was troubling him and at one point he said that he would have no objections to one or two American pilots flying in a British squadron. I do not think Salazar can be moved from this position.

In discussing survey party I had some difficulty in persuading Salazar that a second airfield would be necessary despite extension of [Page 7] Lagens. He was obviously grappling with internal problems which expropriation and dispossession will entail and had been made hesitant thereby. Here again he reverted to a more rigid attitude in matter of use by United States of the Azores but volunteered statement that if it were arranged that such a second airfield be built, its use would have to be under terms of Anglo-Portuguese Agreement. I did not take note of this statement even by a reply, but emphasized the urgent need of these additional facilities in terms of the Far Eastern war theater.

Unless the British speedily obtain authorization for the extensions of Lagens Field we may also experience difficulties regarding the landing of the forthcoming army contingents when we inform Salazar [garbled group] of which I understand is on the point of departure from the United States and the other scheduled to leave the end of January. This would arise out of the fact that in the British memorandum regarding the extensions at Lagens, reference was made to the fact that American personnel and equipment would be mainly employed and [that?] the United States authorities are prepared to dispatch the additional personnel required as soon as the Portuguese Government have notified the British Government of their agreement to the present proposals. Salazar questioned me closely about why so much equipment and personnel were needed merely to exploit the existing field (for Mason’s comments please see MA1088 of January 1226).

I have informed the Military and Naval Attachés of the details of this interview and Colonel Mason and Commander Huff.

Also I shall see the British Ambassador this noon with special reference to navy and submarine personnel.

Repeated to Department, to London by air pouch.

  1. H. Freeman Matthews, Director, Office of European Affairs.
  2. Not printed.
  3. Richard C. Long, Regional Director of Pan American Airways at London.
  4. Foreign Relations, 1943, vol. ii, p. 580.
  5. Ibid., p. 573.
  6. Latter not printed.
  7. Not found in Department files.