740.5/2–2351: Telegram

The United States Deputy Representative on the North Atlantic Council (Spofford) to the Secretary of State 1

secret
priority

Depto 547. Air Marshal Elliot told me last evening that the Prime Minister had called him in immediately after Fechteler question in Commons yesterday. Elliot said that Prime Minister had not been fully prepared for question and that he had therefore gone fully over background of DefCom action and other NAT action to prepare for coherent discussion today. Elliot did not indicate what Prime Ministers [Page 477]position would be but gave me his personal view that the whole question would be straightened out over weekend; that it was purely a matter of politics in which they felt Churchrill had taken advantage of situation and had been “very naughty”.

Eden told member my staff last night that question had arisen because of widespread disappointment among British people that no major appointments were going to British; that Labor backbenchers shared this view; that conservatives had arranged Churchill to ask question since he could raise it for discussion without being offensive to Americans in way which no other member either party could. He also made similar statement to other Americans, with some implication that some members government supported Churchill view. No evidence to substantiate this since attitude Makins, Hoyer-Millar level indicates pretty clearly Government surprised by vehemence of attack.

In view situation here and possibility further parliamentary debate this afternoon believe desirable withhold action over weekend. No indication yet this morning British Government position.2

Spofford
  1. Repeated information to Paris as 1558, for MacArthur.
  2. On February 24, Acting Secretary of State Webb cabled Spofford, inter alia, that “State and Def agree our position shld be maintained and that Fechteler shld be appointed. If helpful, you may announce simultaneously with Fechteler appointment that his Deputy will be British. As to timing when matter shld be further pressed in Deputies, you have full discretion.” (Todep 269, 740.5/2–2451)