CONTINUED TROUBLES OVER SHIPS
The drastic British cut in our permitted imports into Belgium and Northern France of February, 1916, was terrible in its effects on the people, but it did temporarily relieve the pressures for ships. By August, however, we were again in shipping difficulties, and I once more took up with the Belgian authorities the problem of the Belgian-owned ships operating under the British flag:
LONDON, 18 August 1916
Administration de la Marine Belge, London
DEAR CAPTAIN BULTINCK:
With regard to our conversation of today on the needs of the Relief Commission in shipping, I beg to say that . . . we have as yet been unable to secure the necessary supplement to the Belgian fleet for the fourth quarter and from thence forward it seems to us that the only solution of the needs of the Relief Commission is to obtain from the Belgian Lloyd further ships for our regular employ, beginning with the fourth quarter of this year. . . .
We are receiving complaints from the Bunker Committee that we are disorganizing the neutral chartering market by our extravagant bidding for shipping, and we are quite unable to do otherwise as we must have the ships and the only way to prevent this disorganization by having our independent bidding on the market, is to put into our hands sufficient regular shipping from the Belgian Lloyd. We simply cannot take the responsibility of leaving Belgium and Northern France without food supply so long as we can obtain neutral ships at any price. . . .