Memorandum of Conversation, by the Under Secretary of State (Welles)

The British Ambassador called to see me this morning with the Canadian Chargé d’Affaires, Mr. Mahoney. The Ambassador stated that the British and Canadian Governments desired to ascertain whether the United States Government would permit or possibly facilitate the training of British and Canadian pilots in governmental schools and airfields. The Ambassador stated that such pilots would come to the United States in a civilian capacity and as individuals.

The Ambassador stated that he understood that I had been informed of this matter beforehand.

I said to the Ambassador that, as Mr. Mahoney knew, the views of this Government had been communicated some days before to the Canadian Prime Minister with reference to the enlistment of American citizens in Canada for service in the British and Canadian air forces, but that I had had no prior knowledge of the request the Ambassador had just made of me except a cryptic message10 from Ambassador Kennedy11 saying that Lord Lothian would discuss with me an aviation question and that the Ambassador felt it would be better to handle the matter in Washington rather than in London.

I stated to Lord Lothian and to Mr. Mahoney that it seemed to me there were two questions involved, first, whether the proposed step would violate any of our neutrality requirements, and, second, whether the facilities now existing in the United States would be sufficient to make possible the training of non-American pilots other than the few which we took from the other American Republics. I said this latter problem seemed to me difficult to overcome in view of the present rearmament program and in view of the fact that Lord Lothian had indicated that something like one hundred thousand aspirants had [Page 7] registered for training as pilots in Canada and in Great Britain. In order to answer these two questions, I said I would have to consult certain of the appropriate authorities of this Government and I said that I would inform the Ambassador of our decision as soon as might be possible.

S[umner] W[elles]
  1. Not printed.
  2. American Ambassador in the United Kingdom.