Roosevelt Papers

American-British Memorandum of Agreement 1


Memorandum of Agreement Between Lt. Gen. Arnold, Bear Admiral Towers and Air Chief Marshal Portal

It is the policy of the President of the United States, which is [Page 470] concurred in by the Prime Minister of Great Britain, that powerful United States Air Forces must be created and maintained and that every appropriate aircraft built in the United States should be manned and fought by American crews, subject to the following conditions:
that our combined aim shall be to create and bring into decisive action as quickly as possible fully trained United States and British Air Forces adequate for the defeat of our enemies, and that the combined aircraft production, trained man-power and shipping available to the United States and British Commonwealth should be used to the best advantage in creating and employing those air forces to that end.
that the revision of previously agreed allocations of aircraft to Great Britain shall be made so as to avoid weakening the combined strength in any theatre.
In accordance with this policy the United States will:
Allocate aircraft to Great Britain to equip and maintain certain existing and projected squadrons of the Royal Air Force, and of Dominion Air Forces operating in theatres of British and Combined strategic responsibility, for which units of the United States Army Air Forces cannot be substituted—these allocations are set out in Annex ‘A’.2
Assign to and maintain in theatres of British and Combined strategic responsibility certain United States Air Forces by dates which have been agreed; these Air Forces and dates are as set out in Annex ‘B’.3
The United States undertakes to continue in 1943 the allocation of the necessary aircraft to meet attrition in British squadrons using American aircraft operational on 1st April 1943 as a result of the allocations in Annex ‘A’, and in their supporting Operational Training Units, provided there is no abnormal increase in units from accumulated reserves or other sources. This undertaking shall be open to review in June 1943 at the request either of the United States or British Government.
To conform to the policy laid down in para. 1 of this agreement, it is essential that United States Air Forces shall be established and ready for operations in the appropriate theatres by the dates shown in Annex ‘B’ To this end the movement of personnel and equipment will be provided for in suitable priority to ensure arrival in appropriate theatres by the dates specified.
American air combat units assigned to theatres of British strategic responsibility will be organised in homogeneous American formations. [Page 471] They will be under the strategic control of the appropriate British Commander-in-Chief.
Dominion air requirements. It is the duty of the United States Chiefs of Staff to define the strategic requirements of those Dominions falling within United States spheres of responsibility. The conclusions of the United States Chiefs of Staff on this head will be referred to the Combined Chiefs of Staff for approval. (At this stage the British Chiefs of Staff will have the opportunity of satisfying themselves that Dominion interests are adequately safeguarded).
When the strategic requirements of these Dominions have been approved by the Combined Chiefs of Staff, the United States will make the necessary allocations of aircraft, through the machinery of the Combined Munitions Assignment Board. Allocations to the Dominions of aircraft of British types made in the Dominions will be a matter for agreement by the Combined Munitions Assignment Board.
When Dominion personnel are available these aircraft may be manned by such personnel. When the aircraft allocated exceed the Dominion personnel available they will be manned in accordance with arrangements agreed between the United States Government and the Dominion Government concerned.
The production of transport aircraft in 1942 is insufficient to meet the requirements of both American and British forces. The Transport Groups assigned to the United Kingdom will be regarded as a pool available for employment with British as well as American airborne forces. The services of transport aircraft are essential to afford strategic mobility to the Air Forces in British overseas theatres, particularly in the Middle East. The General Officer Commanding American Transport Groups in the Middle East and India will afford the fullest possible facilities to the appropriate Air Officers Commanding-in-Chief for this purpose.
The allocations of transport aircraft to Great Britain for 1943 remain open to discussion and will be revised later in this year.
Aircraft and allied equipment supplied to the British under this agreement will be accompanied and maintained by a full range of spare parts, including spare engines, spare propellers and other spare units, according to the current scales approved by the Joint Aircraft Committee.
This agreement shall not disturb the existing arrangements for export to the United Kingdom and other parts of the British Empire of engines, propellers and other component parts for aircraft of British types duly authorised by the Joint Aircraft Committee and required to balance the aircraft programme in these countries.
It is recognised that a renewed air offensive on a large scale against the British Isles might quickly deprive the British of a substantial proportion of their own production of aircraft. In the event [Page 472] of any serious disturbance of British production from this cause a new position will have arisen and new allocations would be necessary.
The present allocations of trainer aircraft will hold good until the repercussions of this agreement upon requirements in crews have been analysed, when the trainer allocations will be adjusted by agreement.
Allocations of communication aircraft for the remainder of 1942 are not covered by this agreement and remain open to discussion.
H. H. Arnold

Lieutenant General, U.S.A.
Commanding General, Army Air Forces
J. H. Towers

Rear Admiral, U.S.N.
Chief of the Bureau of Aeronautics, Navy Department
J. C. Slessor

Air Vice-Marshal, for R.A.F.
The Chief of the Air Staff 4

21 June, 1942.

  1. Discussions leading to the conclusion of this agreement were begun in London at the end of May 1942 during a visit there by Arnold and Towers. The discussions, which continued in Washington following the return of Arnold and Towers at the beginning of June, are described in Wesley Frank Craven and James Lea Cate, The Army Aw Forces in World War II, vol. i, Plans and Early Operations January 1989 to August 1942 (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1948), p. 567. The agreement was approved by Roosevelt and Churchill on the afternoon of June 22; see the editorial note, ante, p. 440. Roosevelt had already expressed his acceptance of the proposed agreement on June 12, 1942, in his telegram 157 to Churchill, which reads in part as follows:

    “I am in full accord with the agreement that has been reached between Slessor and Arnold. This agreement is in consonance with the several basic principles that I have proposed relating to the reallocation of United States aircraft. The basic agreement provides in general that American aircraft will be manned by American crews. The pertinent exceptions to this general principle lie primarily with the light bombardment type for use by Great Britain in the United Kingdom and pursuit aircraft in such numbers as are required to maintain your proposed strength in American equipped British units in the Middle East.” (Roosevelt Papers)

    In his message 102, June 13, 1942, Churchill replied to Roosevelt’s message as follows:

    “Your number 157. I have read this with great interest. I have not yet received the terms of the suggested settlement. We are of course in your hands, but I do not understand how there could be any agreement between Arnold and Slessor as the latter was precluded from all power of making an agreement without previous reference here. I am awaiting the actual text which I hope will relieve our anxiety. Anyhow we can talk it all over when we meet.” (Roosevelt Papers)

    The agreement was subsequently approved by the Combined Chiefs of Staff on July 2, 1942.

  2. Annex A: Allocation of Aircraft Other Than Fleet Air Arm Types to Great Britain, is printed in Craven and Cate, The Army Air Forces in World War II, vol. i, p. 568, with the exception of paragraph 5 comprising a list of flying boats allocated to Great Britain.
  3. Annex B: United States Air Forces Assigned to British and Combined Theatres of Strategic Responsibility, is printed ibid., p. 569.
  4. Slessor signed for Portal.