Marseille (Jul. 27)
After almost a week of false alarms, the three British deportation ships carrying 4,500 weary and ailing refugees back to Europe are expected to arrive tonight or tomorrow in Marseille, or the nearby Port de Bouc.
Unconfirmed reports from the prefecture of the Bouches du Rhone Department said that the vessels had already been sighted off Port de Bouc, but Jewish Agency officials, who have been scouring the coastal waters by boat and plane have had no final word. They are inclined to believe that the deportees will be brought here, rather than to Port de Bouc, which is a small port with few facilities.
One of the largest official and unofficial delegations ever to greet a vessel docking here awaits the deportation ferries. Government officials continue to arrive from Paris. M. Cayla, inspector-general of the Ministry of Public Health came today to join representatives of the Army, Navy, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and other governmental bodies, as well as the Red Cross.
According to present plans, the first official act will be to send a sanitary commission aboard to see whether the ships wil be allowed to dock. Reports from the vessels say that more than 100 of the passengers are ill and one has died. Jewish Agency aides here also have prepared medical supplies and Marseille hospitals have been alerted to receive up to 300 sick. The Immigration Service has also mobilized ambulances and medical facilities. The Zionists are confident that only deportees requiring medical attention will be disembarked.
HAGANAH REPRESENTATIVES IN MARSEILLE READY FOR ANY EVENTUALITY
The Agency representatives have prepared a leaflet in Yiddish which they hope to get aboard the three ships, reporting the world-wide repercussions concerning the Exodus incident and assuring the refugees that the Haganah is behind them and advising them not to leave the transports. Small working parties have been organized here in readiness for any eventuality. An official of the Agency’s political department arrived today, and Andre Blumel, political advisor to the Agency in France, is expected momentarily.
French officials have also prepared leaflets in French, Yiddish and Hebrew, explaining the Cabinet’s decision and informing the refugees that they can either disembark, and be fed, housed and otherwise made welcome, or stay aboard, just as they wish. An emergency flotilla of small launches and fishing boats will be pressed into service if the Jews decide to land, which seems unlikely.
The French are believed, however, to be doing their utmost to dissuade the British from using force. The many officials who have arrived from Paris are reported to have been sent here just for that purpose, since their presence is ex##ted to act as a deterrent to violence by the British.
Other signs which point up the French attitude is a decision to have the ##portation ships anchor in the roadsteads, instead of being berthed at a pier, ##us making it impossible for the passengers to be dragged down gangplanks to shore, ## the remark of a Paris official of the Surete, who said that he has been instruct## officially not to allow newspapermen on the piers, but unofficially has been ##d to admit all of them. A small army of correspondents has already assembled here.One hundred Jewish students here on vacation are understood to be planning## be present when the ships dock. Other reports said that the Haganah was ready to ##bilize large numbers of French Jewish youths if violence breaks out.