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United States Ambassador to Great Britain Walter Hines Page to First Secretary of the American Embassy in London Franklin M. Gunther


June 22nd 1917.

Secstate.1    WASHINGTON.

    6514……June 22. 12 m.

    I have just received from the Foreign Office a memorandum of which the following is the substance:-

    “On June 11th. 1917, the German submarine UC52 entered the port of Cadiz in a damaged condition escorted by Spanish warships. The damage, as was subsequently ascertained, had been caused in action with a British defensively armed merchant ship and was of such a serious nature that, according to a report from the British Vice-Consul, the repairs were likely to take thirty days.

    His Majesty’s Ambassador at Madrid2 was instructed to claim on three separate grounds that the submarine should be interned,

    The first is the general ground that, as His Majesty’s Government and their Allies have urged on neutral Powers, belligerent submarines ought not to be allowed any facilities in neutral ports such as are accorded to belligerent warships of other types.

    The second is that belligerent warships are not entitled to repair in neutral ports damages which they have suffered in action. . . .3

    The third ground is that the repairs which are required are greater than the Spanish Government are entitled to allow. . . .

    Sir A. Hardinge has had the cooperation of his French and Italian colleagues in the representations which he has made to the Spanish Government and it appears that Their Excellencies have also invited the assistance of the United States Ambassador.4 It is hoped that the United States Government may be willing to instruct their representative to cooperate in urging the above considerations on the Spanish Government.5


Source Note: Cy, DNA, RG45, Entry 517, Box 172. “PARAPHRASE and BLUE CYPHER.” is written across the top of each page, as is the identifying number “Out 1.” The date is repeated in parentheses at the top of pages two and three. At the bottom of page three the recipient, “MR. GUNTHER” is written and underlined.

Footnote 1: Secretary of State Robert Lansing.

Footnote 2: Sir Arthur Henry Hardinge.

Footnote 3: The omitted portions of this letter list the legal precedents for Britain’s claims.

Footnote 4: United States Ambassador to Spain Joseph Edward Willard.

Footnote 5: On 29 June 1917, King Alfonso of Spain issued a decree banning submarines from any of the belligerent nations from entering Spanish territorial waters. Any submarine which violated his prohibition was subject to immediate internment until the end of the war. King Alfonso of Spain, Royal Decree, 29 June 1917, DNA, RG45, Entry 517, Box 5.

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