File No. 861.00/1907½

The British Ambassador ( Reading ) to the Secretary of State

[The following paraphrase of a telegram was handed to the Secretary by the Ambassador on May 29, 1918:]

The British Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs ( Balfour ) to the Ambassador at Washington

We understand from your reports that intervention at Archangel and Murmansk is regarded by the United States as a different question from that of intervention in the Far East.

I should be much obliged if you would urgently impress upon the United States Government and upon the President the following considered opinion of our military and naval authorities on this question.

On the Murmansk coast assistance from America is badly required and is, in fact, essential. Every day the position of Murmansk is more seriously endangered and, as the United States Government will of course be aware, it is of vital importance to us to retain Murmansk, if we desire to retain any possibility at all of entering Russia.

This danger has become so extreme that we are sending to Murmansk such small marine and military forces as we are able to spare during the present crisis in France. These forces will, however, clearly not be enough to resist the further efforts which the enemy are certain to put forward on this coast. The despatch of additional French or British reinforcements is impossible and it is therefore essential that America should help by sending a brigade, to which a few guns should be added. It is not necessary that the troops sent should be completely trained, as we anticipate that military operations in this region will only be of an irregular character.

It is possible that we may be asked why British troops are not sent. The reason is that Great Britain is now completely denuded of troops, and it is not feasible to take trained troops, even in small numbers, from France where they are being used more or less as cadres for the training of the American forces now reaching the west front. There is a further consideration which is worthy of careful consideration by the President. Great use has been made already of the divergence of view among the Allied countries with regard to the Russian situation, and for this reason it is of great importance that the United States should show their agreement with us on this matter by taking part in the steps adopted for preventing the closing of the only remaining door through which assistance can be given to Russia in her hour of need.