The British Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs ( Eden ) to the Secretary of State 12
My Dear Secretary of State:
Supplies for Liberated Areas
I think it would be desirable to take stock of this position before the Conference breaks up. During Mr. Law’s visit we established the principle of national government import programmes and agreed that procurement should proceed so that supplies should be readily available for shipment. In the case of France and Belgium token allocations of shipping were made for the first quarter which covered 40% to 50% of their requirements.
At this Conference the Combined Chiefs of Staff have recommended to the Prime Minister and President that supplies for liberated areas should be included in the basic undertakings in support of the overall strategic concepts, and it has also been agreed that first priority in shipping should be given to the basic undertakings.
The basic undertaking reads as follows:
“Having regard to the successful accomplishment of the other basic undertakings to provide such supplies to liberated Europe as will effectively contribute to the war-making capacity of the United Nations.”14
and is not entirely satisfactory since the qualification puts liberated areas supplies on a lower category than the other basic undertakings. The Minister of War Transport15 assures me, however, that from his point of view it is workable and I have therefore told the Prime Minister161 do not object to it.
I hope therefore that from now on an increasing flow of supplies will get to those countries. I am, however, disturbed by the continuance of disturbing reports from nearly every country. Shortage of food continues in Belgium and liberated Holland as well as Mediterranean countries. Lack of transport is universal and in the case of France and Belgium there is a serious lack of raw materials. We [Page 1066] should therefore keep a careful eye on the position and I think it would be wise to call for a progress report from the United Kingdom and United States officials concerned before the end of March.
In the meantime I would like to know whether you would agree that our policy should be on the following lines.
- That responsibility for civil imports should pass from Theatre Commanders to National Governments or U.N.R.R.A. acting on behalf of a National Government as soon as conditions permit. Generally speaking this should be done as soon as we are satisfied that the National Government can procure and distribute supplies efficiently and the Theatre Commander has been able to make port and inland transport capacity available. A start might be made in France in the near future and negotiations are already proceeding for the transfer of the Greek, Yugoslav and Albanian programmes to U.N.R.R.A.
- That as far as possible the programme should be established on the spot by using the Four Party Committee procedure. The National Government, the Supreme Commander and the United States and United Kingdom Embassies are all represented on these committees.
- The National Governments or U.N.R.R.A. should present their shipping programmes direct to the Combined Shipping Authorities. These programmes should he monthly loading programmes set out area by area covering as long period ahead as is possible.
- We should take steps to see that adequate priority is given to the essential needs of liberated areas by our production and food authorities, bearing in mind the other competing claims on our resources.
- Special attention should be paid to every possibility of increasing transportation supplies. I understand that there will be a substantial though temporary easing in the shipping position immediately after V.E.17 day and this may give an opportunity to ship trucks and railway equipment which is otherwise difficult to lift. For instance, is there any possibility of increasing the allocation of United States light trucks to liberated areas either by increased production or reallocation of existing production?
We might also consider whether it would be advisable to bring this situation to the attention of the Prime Minister and the President during the Conference or whether it would be sufficient if you and I took the matter up with the United States and United Kingdom Departments concerned on our return.
- Both Mr. Eden and Mr. Stettinius were at Yalta for the Conference there.↩
- This letter, though dated February 7, was not actually sent until February 10.↩
- See report of the Combined Chiefs of Staff to President Roosevelt and Prime Minister Churchill, 9 February, 1945, paragraph III, 6 h, Foreign Relations, The Conferences at Malta and Yalta, 1945, pp. 827, 828.↩
- Lord Leathers.↩
- Winston S. Churchill.↩
- Victory in Europe.↩