Port De Bouc (Jul. 30)
The 4,500 ragged, weary Jews aboard three British deportation vessels lying off this port appeared tonight to have won their battle against the British Government.
After a vain last minute attempt to persuade the French authorities to provide a flotilla of small boats, an official British source told newspapermen that the refugees would not forcibly be disembarked. “The British never take strong measures against a helpless people,” he said.
Jewish Agency sources here expect an announcement soon as to where the British will take the refugees. Unconfirmed rumors gave Cyprus, Malta and Hamburg, in that ##rder, as the most probable destinations. Confirmation of the reports that the ships will soon leave France was seen in a request to the French authorities for a large quantity of coal for the vessels.
The French official mission which was sent here to receive the 4,500 say that it is no longer concerned with the ships, since the passengers refuse to disembark. Only sanitation and medical services will be continued. Earlier today trucks backed up to the pier and loaded huge quantities of food into launches which took the supplies out to the ships. The food is being provided jointly by Jewish and French relief organizations and the government. A French official said that enough food was being sent to provide three adequate meals daily for each refugee. Five-hundred tons of water were also sent, following a British request.
A few more people came off the ships today, bringing to 14 the number that have left, in addition to another eight that are due to be hospitalized today, but even they said they would return if the ships were sent to Cyprus. Most of those who landed were ill, but a few are spouses of the persons requiring medical attention.
DEPORTEES’ MORALE REMAINS HIGH AS THEY REFUSE TO LEAVE TRANSPORTS
An official French delegation went out this morning to the Empire Rival and the Ocean Vigor, where it received the same reception as on the Runnymede Park yesterday. No one agreed to be taken off. Members of the delegation reported later that morale aboard the two ships was very high. One delegate reported seeing a sign reading: “Nelson, Your Sons Are Pirates.”
Newspapermen are still barred from the ships. The British claim it is an Anglo-French ruling, while the French say it was requested by the British. Late yesterday, however, a few newsmen were allowed on board a launch which circled the ships. A JTA correspondent saw hundreds of almost naked women, children and men clustered within wired cages under an almost unbelievably hot sun. A French policeman said bitterly: “That such a thing could happen after this war.” Another muttered: “I spent five years in a German prison camp, but this seems worse. Why do they allow the English to do such things?”
Stung by the barrage of French criticism, the British consulate today issued a statement denying that any brutality had been displayed towards the refugees or that any incidents had occurred aboard the ships. It said that relations between the passengers and the soldiers were good, and that the latter had even given up their candy to the children. The refugees, the statement continued, received only slightly less food than the soldiers.
French doctors who boarded the ships yesterday told a different story. They ## the refugees were definitely undernourished and were receiving a poor quality