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'File 8/15 Arab Series - 1933-1939' [‎57r] (113/434)

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The record is made up of 1 file (214 folios). It was created in 31 Aug 1933-20 Mar 1939. It was written in English and French. The original is part of the British Library: India Office The department of the British Government to which the Government of India reported between 1858 and 1947. The successor to the Court of Directors. Records and Private Papers.


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Enclosure 2 to Serial No. (59).
Letter from the Commanding Officer, H. M. S. Penzance at Aden, to the
Senior Officer, Red Sea Sloops, dated the 19th February, 1934. [Copy of
Staff Officer (I), Malta.].
Submitted with reference to Staff Officer (I), Malta, O. S.-7|34 of 10th Janu
ary, 1934, and your message 1144 of 13th February, 1934, H. M. S. Penzance
visited Perim for a few hours on 16th February, while conveying the Sa’na
Mission to Aden, and the opportunity was taken of discussing the matter with
Mr. C. C. Davey, the Government Agent.
2 . Mr. Davey states that although he was informed by the London Offices of
the Perim Coal Company that the Italian surveying ship “ Ammiralglio Mag-
naghi ” would visit Perim for coal during December, 1933, she has not yet been
in the port.
3. On 13th January, the Italian sloop “ Ostia ” arrived and embarked oil
Mr. Davey called, and was requested by the Commanding Officer to allow
officers to land at the High Light for the purpose of taking a round of angles of
peaks on the Arabian coast, including, presumably, the vicinity of Sheikh Syed.
This permission was granted. \\ - *
Subsequently Mr. Davey was informed by the Island Police that the officers,
after making their observations at the High Light, descended to the Old Light on
Obstruction Point and there made sketches.
4 . It is understood that these sketches were also of the Arabian coastline,
but time did not admit of this being confirmed. If. M. S. Penzance will therefore
call at Perim on her return passage from Djibouti, when the police officers con
cerned will be interviewed.
5. Mr. Davey was informed that “ Ostia ” will call for fuel at monthly inter
vals until May, when she is expected to return to Italy.
He also gathered that “ Ammiraglio Magnaghi ” is engaged in survey work
in the vicinity of Assab.
6 . In the event of further requests to land for hydrographical purposes being
made on any future occasion, Mr. Davey proposed that permission should again
be granted, a careful watch being kept on the movements of the observers, and
a report forwarded.
7. These proposals were discussed with and concurred in by the Chief Com
missioner, Aden, in view of the following facts—
(a) Details of Perim island and the neighbouring Arabian coast are
already shown in considerable detail on Admiralty chart No. 2592,
“ Perim island and Bab-el-Mandeb Small Strait ”.
(b) Nothing of a secret nature exists in Perim.
(c) It is impossible to detect or prevent any sketching or photography
that a foreign man-of-war may undertake while on passage through
the Small Strait or elsewhere in the vicinity of the Island.
(d) The difficulties which would attend the refusal of permission after
having granted it on a previous occasion.
8 . In a general consideration of this incident, it will be recollected that the
vicinity of Sheikh Seyd has always received the particular and sensitive atten
tion of His Majesty’s Government, owing to its dominant position with regard
to Perim and the Straits.
In the Anglo-Turkish Boundary Agreement of 1904-5, this area was known
as “ the yellow patch ” on the map, a special clause providing that on no account
would Turkey alienate her tenure of it in favour of any other Power.
9 . From intercepted W|T messages en clair it now appears certain that both
“Ammiraglio Magnaghi ’’ and “ Ostia ’’ are engaged in some work (presum-
ablv survey) in the Assabthio area, and that a shore observation party, equipped
with a portable WjT set has been landed. The sloop “ Asio ’’ also appears to be
taking part in the operations.

About this item


The file contains the Foreign Office confidential prints of the Arabia Series for the years 1933 to 1938. It includes correspondence, memoranda, and extracts from newspapers. The correspondence is principally between the British Legation in Jedda and the Foreign Office. Other correspondents include British diplomatic, political, and military offices, foreign diplomats, heads of state, tribal leaders, corporations, and individuals in the Middle East region.

Each annual series is composed of several numbered serials that are often connected to a particular subject. The file covers many subjects related to the affairs of Saudi Arabia.

Included in the file are the following:

  • a memorandum on Arab Unity produced by the Foreign Office dated 12 June 1933 (author unknown), folios 11-13;
  • a memorandum on petroleum in Arabia produced by the Petroleum Department dated 5 August 1933 (author unknown), folios 23-26;
  • a record of interviews with Ibn Sa‘ūd, King of Saudi Arabia, conducted by Reader Bullard and George William Rendel between 20 and 22 March 1937;
  • a memorandum on Yemen by Captain B W Seager, the Frontier Officer, dated 20 July 1937;
  • several records of proceedings of ships on patrol in the Red Sea, including that of HMS Penzance , Hastings , Colombo , Bideford , and Londonderry .

Folios 213-15 are internal office notes.

Extent and format
1 file (214 folios)

The file is arranged chronologically.

Physical characteristics

Foliation: the main foliation sequence (used for referencing) commences at the front cover with 1 and terminates at the back cover with 217; these numbers are written in pencil, are circled, and are located in the top right corner of the recto The front of a sheet of paper or leaf, often abbreviated to 'r'. side of each folio. An additional foliation sequence is also present in parallel between ff 2-215; these numbers are also written in pencil, but are not circled, and are located in the same position as the main sequence.

Written in
English and French in Latin script
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'File 8/15 Arab Series - 1933-1939' [‎57r] (113/434), British Library: India Office Records and Private Papers, IOR/R/15/2/310, in Qatar Digital Library <> [accessed 19 February 2020]

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