Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, to Admiral William S. Benson, Chief of Naval Operations

In reply refer to initials NAVY DEPARTMENT

and No.            OFFICE OF NAVAL OPERATIONS

Op-36                     WASHINGTON

July 25, 1918.

    MEMORANDUM FOR CHIEF OF NAVAL OPERATIONS:

     On January 4, 1918, our Ambassador in France1 reported an agreement between the German Government and Italy, France and England, whereby hospital ships were given protection in the Mediterranean provided they carried each a Spanish officer to guarantee their good faith.

     The French Ambassador called our attention in this note to the danger of Germany using as a pretext for further violations of the convention the sending of any hospital ship into the Mediterranean other than those of the nations signing the convention (See enclosure 6).2

     On February 11, 1918, the State Department called the attention of the Navy Department to the approval by the War Department of the above agreement to carry Spanish officers and asked an early reply.

     On February 15, 1918, the Navy Department called attention to the vague and unsatisfactory wording of the German note and asked for more information (see enclosure 5). On March 6, this information was furnished (see enclosure 4).

     On March 13th, this Department agreed that a “working agreement” should be accomplished on the best terms possible (see enclosure 3).

     On April 19th, the War Department advised assent to the agreement as in force between the Germanic and Entente Powers (see enclosure 2).

     On June 19th, the Spanish Ambassador3 was directed to arrange a modus vivendi in harmony with the present arrangement in the Mediterranean (see enclosure 1).

     It will be noted that this Government has not given its formal adherence but,while reserving under International Law its full rights, has made certain concessions as a modus vivendi. These concessions were made as I take it in consideration of the fact that the Entente Powers were already committed, and that refusal on our part might effect the existing status.

Source Note: TCy, DLC-MSS, Josephus Daniels Papers, Roll 52.

Footnote 1: William G. Sharp.

Footnote 2: None of the enclosures mentioned in this memorandum are still with the memorandum.

Footnote 3: Juan Riaño y Gayangobs.

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