Editorial Note

No official record of this discussion has been found. The Stimson diary for December 25 contains the following paragraphs relating to this meeting:

“Generals Arnold, Eisenhower, and Marshall came in to see me and brought me a rather astonishing memorandum which they had received from the White House concerning a meeting between Churchill and the President and recorded by one of Churchill’s assistants.1 It reported the President as proposing to discuss the turning over to the British of our proposed reenforcements for MacArthur. This astonishing paper made me extremely angry and, as I went home for lunch and thought it over again, my anger grew until I finally called up Hopkins, told him of the paper and of my anger at it, and I said if that was persisted in, the President would have to take my resignation; that I thought it was very improper to discuss such matters while the fighting was going on and to do it with another nation. He was naturally surprised and shocked by what I said and very soon called me back telling me that he had recited what I had said to the President in the presence of Churchill and they had denied that any such propositions had been actually made. I then read to him extracts from the paper which I had brought with me from the War Department and he said that they certainly bore out my view.

“Shortly afterwards I received notice over the telephone that the President was calling a meeting for 5:30 of his military and naval advisers. At 5:30 I went to the White House and found there Marshall, Arnold, Knox, Admirals King and Stark, and Harry Hopkins. The President then went over with us the reports up to date of the various matters and we discussed various things which were happening and the ways and means of carrying out the campaign in the Far East. Incidentally and as if by aside, he flung out the remark that a paper had been going around which was nonsense and which entirely misrepresented a conference between him and Churchill. I made no reply of course as he had given up, if he had ever entertained, the idea of discussing the surrender of MacArthur’s reenforcements.

“This incident shows the danger of talking too freely in international matters of such keen importance without the President carefully having his military and naval advisers present. This paper, which was a record made by one of Churchill’s assistants, would have raised any amount of trouble for the President if it had gotten into the hands of an unfriendly press. I think he felt that he had pretty nearly burned his fingers and had called this subsequent meeting to make up for it. Hopkins told me at the time I talked with him over the telephone that he had told the President that he should be more careful about the formality of his discussions with Churchill.”

  1. Reference is to the memorandum by Hollis, post, p. 267.