The Ambassador to the Netherlands Government in Exile (Hornbeck) to the Secretary of State

No. 34

Sir: I have the honor to report that:

I called on the morning of January 20 on Mr. Hoyer-Millar, the recently appointed head of the Western Department of the British Foreign Office, within the purview of which office British relations with the Netherlands fall. Mr. Hoyer-Millar opened the conversation with an observation to the effect that he did not possess great knowledge of the Netherlands but that he does know that the situation in Holland, especially as regards the livelihood of the people, is at present “pretty miserable”. There followed a conversation of about twenty minutes, in the course of which Mr. Hoyer-Millar stated that he thought that this situation and the problems of relief which it presents are being given appropriate and adequate attention by SHAEF; he talked of a “Plan B”; he said that Dr. Gerbrandy3 had come away from his conversation with General Eisenhower feeling “pretty well satisfied”; he said that one of the greatest difficulties is that no one can tell what the physical conditions will be at the time when the liberation of Holland is completed, as regards, for instance, accessibility of harbors (the approaches to which may be full of mines and the facilities of which may be nonexistent) and as regards transportation in general; he said that he thought there would be ample stock piles of food but one could not know what the shipping situation would be; he said that Mr. Law4 had, since his return from Washington, had a conversation with the Netherlands Ambassador to Great Britain (Michiels van Verduynen), and that the Ambassador had given indication that he was gratified with the present state of arrangements; he said that the allocation of shipping which had been effected in Washington for France and Belgium related to space in connection with the supplying of materials and equipment for reinforcement and revival of industry, and that it had nothing to do with the question, either immediate or future, of food and other supplies for relief; he said that Dr. Gerbrandy had written letters to Mr. Churchill5 and President Roosevelt.
On January 22, I encountered Mr. Hoyer-Millar at a luncheon party, and in the course of a very brief conversation Mr. Hoyer-Millar informed me in confidence that in the letters which Prime Minister [Page 5] Gerbrandy had sent to President Roosevelt and Mr. Churchill, Dr. Gerbrandy had urged that one or the other of two alternatives be adopted: that the Allies either make revision of plans of military strategy toward speeding up the liberation of Holland or make arrangements for promptly sending foodstuffs and other relief supplies into Holland. Further, he said that Dr. Gerbrandy had had a conversation with Mr. Churchill on January 20, and that in this conversation Dr. Gerbrandy had urged adoption of the first of those alternatives and had said nothing about the second. Mr. Churchill had replied, he said, that the question of military strategy was in the hands of the generals; but Dr. Gerbrandy had urged that it was not exclusively so.
During the course of a luncheon party given by him on January 22, the Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Mr. Eden, remarked to me that difficult problems lie ahead in relation to the country to which I am accredited and that the British view the conditions of hardship which now prevail in that country (Holland) with sympathetic concern. I commented that I feel that some of those difficult problems are already upon us; that the situation with which the Dutch people and government are confronted and which must concern many of us calls for sympathetic attention and solicitous effort; and that for my part I feel that he and his people have it in their power to be very helpful and I am hoping that they will give all the assistance of which they are capable. Mr. Eden replied that we might count on them for that.

Respectfully yours,

Stanley K. Hornbeck
  1. P. S. Gerbrandy, Netherlands Prime Minister.
  2. Richard K. Law, British Minister of State.
  3. Winston Churchill, British Prime Minister.