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Excerpts from Misc. Documents (Sir George Binney)
(Received from Roger Griffiths, England - His source: Public Records Office, Kew)
"Concurrent with the official negotiations between H.M.G. and the Swedish Government over the release of the Performance ships, unofficial negotiations were conducted throughout the winter with a view to maintaining pressure from every angle which had bearing. Otherwise German pressure might have succeeded in inducing the Swedish Cabinet to take such measures as would have completely stultified the operation. Our unofficial negotiations were with Mr. Marcus Wallenberg, Jnr. (Chairman in Stockholm of the Anglo Swedish Joint Standing Commission) and with the economic section of the Swedish Foreign Office, with whom Mr. J. Mitcheson (British Commercial Counsellor) has built up an exceptionally favourable entretien. The Swedes deprived of their normal imports were constantly requesting concessions in connection with their Gothenburg traffic, and these requests were countered by our requests for minor facilities for Performance. Mr. Wheeler's presence was very helpful to these negotiations; he was able to secure from the Ministry of Supply concessions over the import of rubber and hides, which gained considerable goodwill within Swedish official circles at a time when we needed every ounce of goodwill to offset German intrigues with the Nazi element of the Swedish cabinet".
"One of the major problems confronting the Norwegian Goverment in London is the disposal of Norwegian refugees who succeed in crossing the frontier into Sweden. It was understood last winter that there were approxiamtely 3000 Norwegians of this category in refugee camps in Sweden. From among them our crews were drawn. These refugees constituted a serious embarrassment to the Norwegian Legation in Stockholm. Because there was very little that could be done for them, they were becoming critical alike of their Legation and of their Government. Some were returning to Norway with Quisling leanings due to their discontent over the camp conditions in Sweden and immense delay in securing air passages to England.
The Norwegian Legation was most anxious that we should carry as many refugees as possible on the Performance ships. I was anxious to oblige them within reason, but as our ships were solely operated "for the public use of H.M.G.", the transport of Norwegian refugees had to be undertaken rather cautiously so as not to interfere with the legal character of our charterparties. We could easily have brought the 10 ships across on that short voyage to England with 300 men, but in all we signed on about 430 men, and in addition there were about 20 authorized stowaways. With the exception of two Dutchmen, one Pole and 16 British Volunteers from the first Russo-Finnish campaign, all the supernumerary members of the crews were Norwegians. There was an inevitable tendency on the part of the Norwegian authorities to select the men they were most anxious to get rid of from Sweden, rather than the men who would be most useful to the War Effort in England, and this it was necessary to counter as tactfully as we could. We gave "scholarships" to a number of Norwegians who had been particularly helpful to British interests in Sweden and "stowawayships" to a number of other Norwegian patriots, who, by their training or their spirit, seemed to have earned the right to a passage.
Whenever opportunity arose to secure small fishing boats in Sweden, Norwegian refugees, both men and women, were prepared to take the most extravagant risks to escape to England, so that one had no compunction in offering them the risk of passage "towards England" - the actual expression used in the contracts given to the Finland volunteers and others. In two exceptional cases where they could be usefully employed, we accepted Norwegian women, one a nurse and the other a qualified doctor. It was left to the discretion of each captain as to whether certain officers could take their wives.
Our principal concern with the refugees was security, but we found towards the end that the crews themselves were watching very closely for doubtful people, as they were sceptical of the method of selection by the Norwegian authorities. Some we refused to carry. The refugees were employed on board as watchmen or else in the galley, and some were trained as Lewis gunners for the voyage. There was a fine spirit among the refugees founded on their determination to serve their country.
The Whaler Skytteren had accommodation for 250 men, but we reluctantly limited supernumeraries to between thirty and forty men. The other refugees were disposed among those ships where accommodation could be found or most suitably made for them".