835.24/9–947: Telegram

The Ambassador in Belgium ( Kirk ) to the Secretary of State

secret
us urgent

1371. Saturday, September 6, … [an Embassy officer] observed 14 American medium tanks mounting 76 millimetre guns in good condition being loaded at Antwerp on SS Rio Diamante. Inquiries Antwerp reveal vessel belongs to Flota Mercantile [Mercante?] Estado Argentina99 Agent Eiffe carrying cargo described general merchandise for individuals Buenos Aires and Montevideo sailing night September 9 for Buenos Aires. Embassy immediately contacted Jacqmin, head Belgian Office mutual aid dealing disposal surplus property, who totally unaware any such shipment. Foreign Office and Minister Exterior Commerce, through whom arms exports licensed, likewise unaware. All making appropriate investigations as [Page 228] to source, destination, shipper.3 Jacqmin suggested possibility British sale to Belgian exporter as scrap or direct British Government sale to Argentina.

… [Member British Embassy] contacted this morning denies any knowledge and discussing matter British Ambassador.4 If fraudulent obtention export license determined, shipment may be stopped.

Please inform War Department.

Sent Department 1371, repeated unnumbered Buenos Aires for transmittal Montevideo information Military Attachés.

Kirk
  1. Argentine Government shipping corporation.
  2. Ambassador Kirk in telegram 1381, September 10, 5 p.m., advised that the Rio Diamante had departed, that the depot from which the tanks came contained 1000 American-made medium tanks, and that 84 had already been shipped (835.24/9–1047).
  3. Sir Hughe Montgomery Knatchbull-Hugessen.