File No. 763.72/13354

The Secretary of War ( Baker) to President Wilson


39. Returned from Italy Thursday. Spent one day at the front and one in Rome as Mr. Page feared misunderstanding if I failed to visit [that] capital after having been in Paris and London.

Military situation continues stationary with very heavy artillery duel more or less continuously. Believed here that the Germans have still 30 divisions of fresh troops and plan another attack in force near Arras. Plans for defense along the whole line are made and Allies have much larger and better placed reserve than on March 21. If estimate of 30 divisions is correct Germans have used up more than half of their first quality attack troops. Our First Division begins to move out of the trenches today to become a part of the battle reserve and will probably be in action in a week or ten days. This division about equals two British divisions in numbers and is now waiting, fully trained. The men are full of enthusiasm and pride; they are also completing one of the replacement divisions so that we will have four in the trenches and one in battle. Our four, because of larger numbers, release six French for reserve. Our contribution is thus important and helpful. Counter-attack in preparation which may modify whole recent situation.

The original appointment of General Foch was hesitating and powers given him largely advisory. At meeting yesterday1 whole matter was reviewed and practically supreme command given him over British, French and American armies on west front.

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So far as I can see, there is nothing else for me to do here now and unless you advise otherwise I will leave on Tuesday, April 9, for home. No available ship sails earlier. Reply will reach me care Ambassador Sharp.

  1. Should read “day before yesterday,” i.e., Apr. 3, date of the Beauvais conference.