Defense Files

Memorandum by the Chief of Staff, United States Army (Marshall)1

At a meeting at the White House late yesterday afternoon in which the Prime Minister, the British Chiefs of Staff and Lord Beaverbrook participated, and at which U. S. Chiefs of Staff and Mr. Harry Hopkins also were present, the President and the Prime Minister approved the attached proposal2 for the reduction of the troops scheduled for Iceland and Ireland on January 15th and for the rearrangement of shipping to permit the sailing of a convoy from New York on January 20th of some 21,000 troops for the Far East.

Regarding the collection of the necessary shipping to provide 228,000 ship cargo tons for this expedition and for the pursuit, medium and light bombardment planes set up for the expedition, it was decided that this should be done, but that other shipping would have to be found to permit the continued flow of matériel to Russia and pursuit, “Baltimore” planes and tanks to Cairo.

I explained at this meeting that Admiral Land and his principal assistants had informed me that to collect the necessary cargo ships—some [Page 195] 20-odd—would force the reduction of shipments to Russia by something like 30%, though he stated that it was impossible to rate the reduction on a percentage basis without elaborate calculation as to involved turn-arounds, delays in unloading at Murmansk and Archangel, etc. Mr. Hopkins stated that he felt that the reservoir of shipping had not been exhausted and that the necessary vessels could be secured. Lord Beaverbrook presented difficulties in connection with maintaining vital shipments to England, which at the present time were delayed.

The President and the Prime Minister felt that it was highly important that there be no indication of reductions in the shipments to Russia.

Regarding the use of the Queen Mary and our suggested employment of the three U.S. Naval transports now in the Far East, the British requested an opportunity to confer with the Home Government. However, this phase of the matter would have no effect on the organization of the U. S. convoy for the Far East. It might involve a delay in the movement of U. S. troops to Ireland.

General Somervell was personally directed by me last night immediately to start on the rearrangement of shipping at the Port of Embarkation in New York.

G. C. Marshall
  1. The source text is an unsigned copy. The memorandum was sent by Marshall to the Assistant Chiefs of Staff for War Plans, Operations, and Supply.
  2. The attached proposal was a copy of the memorandum of January 12, 1942, post, p. 229.