Memorandum of Conversation, by the Assistant Chief of the Division of North and West Coast Affairs (Wells)
Mr. Everson18 called this afternoon unannounced. He opened the subject by stating that while he came under instructions he wished to make it clear that in no way were his remarks to be considered a protest, that he merely wished to make known informally the feeling of his Government on learning of the arrival of Admiral Merrill19 at Santiago for the purpose of heading a United States Naval Mission to Chile.
Since the time of Lord Cochrane,20 Mr. Everson said, the British had in a sense been associated with the Chilean Navy; had had a Naval Mission there until the crisis in the early thirties; and, in fact, their present Naval Attaché at Santiago had been a member of the former Naval Mission. Naturally, therefore, they took as bad news [Page 738] the report that the United States now is entering the field. He intimated that due to war necessities Great Britain had not entertained the thought of providing a Naval Mission at the present time. Mr. Everson said his instructions asked him to inquire as to the “nature and scope” of the Naval Mission that we proposed to send.
I told him I could say frankly that Admiral Merrill’s visit came only after a formal request for the sending of a Naval Mission had been made by the Chilean Government; and that it was of preliminary character for the purpose of discussing with the Chileans in regard to their needs. While I had no specific information, I supposed the future mission would follow the usual pattern of such Missions and its personnel composition would be based upon the wishes and needs of Chile for professional and technical advice.
He also indicated that the Chilean naval vessels are mostly of British origin, as has been Chilean naval equipment up until present war times. At this point he said he understood that one of our objectives was to standardize the military equipment used in the other American republics, and wondered whether the establishment of a Naval Mission in Chile was accompanied by an offer of naval vessels or other naval equipment on our part. I assured him such was not the case; that far from dangling bait, we had actually refrained from encouraging a request.
He said he fully appreciated our position, realizing that in fulfillment of our hemisphere defense policy we must stand ready to lend such assistance when requested. At the same time, he knew we would appreciate the British feeling of disappointment at losing out.
I told Mr. Everson that I would bring his remarks to the attention of the appropriate officers of the Department.
- Second Secretary of the British Embassy.↩
- According to an undated memorandum for the files by J. E. Johnson of the Department, Rear Admiral Merrill carried instructions to lay the groundwork for a United States naval mission to Chile (825.30 Missions/1–1545). For text of naval mission agreement with Chile, signed on May 24, 1945, see Department of State Executive Agreement Series No. 468, or 59 Stat. (pt. 2) 1505.↩
- British Admiral who commanded a Chilean naval force that aided in the liberation of Chile and Peru from Spain, 1817–1818.↩