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French Ambassador to the United States Jean Jules Jusserand to Secretary of State Robert Lansing


Embassy of the French Republic

to the United States.   

Washington, June11, 1918.    

Mr.  Secretary of State.

          According to reports recently sent to the Government of the Republic by the Consul of France at Las Palmas, it becomes more and more apparent that the German submarines operating in the North Atlantic Ocean concentrate at the Canary Islands. There is said to be evidence of frequent communications of those boats with the shore. In order to elude the watchfulness of the allied agents; they are now showing a tendency to visit the Western islands which is less populated and more isolated.

     In the French Consul’s opinion, the only effective remedy would be in the permanent and secret presence of an allied submarine for which the agent of the French Navy would procure anchorage in safe and hidden coves. It would furthermore be indispensable to enable that submarine promptly to send and receive information about the doings of the enemy boats by having a trawler also permanently stationed in the Archipelago.

          I am directed by my Government confidentially to impart to your Excellency for all pertinent purposes the foregoing which has also been submitted to the consideration of the Minister of Marine of the Republic.1

               Be pleased to accept, etc.


Source Note: Cy, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517B. Addressed below close: “His Excellency/The Honorable Robert Lansing,/Secretary of State of the United States,/Washington, D.C.” Document reference: “15-5-5. . .1/C/H/M/J.”

Footnote 1: Minister of the Marine George Leygues. German submarines were using the Canary Islands to help hide and engage with Allied shipping. The French and British were aware of this and complained to the government of Spain. Even under diplomatic pressure, the Spanish government lacked the military forces or political will to prevent German activities in the Canary Islands. Javier Ponce, “Commerce Warfare in the East Central Atlantic during the First World War: German submarines around the Canary Islands, 1916-1918,” The Mariners Mirror, Vol. 100, 2014, Issue 3, pp. 335-348.