Defense Files

Memorandum by Lieutenant Colonel Wyman

Subject: Preparation of message to be sent by the President to Chiang Kai Shek in conjunction with the announcement of details in connection with the Southwest Pacific Theatres.

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The Chief of Staff, Colonel Handy, and Colonel Wyman then joined Secretary Stimson in his office where the group was joined by Mr. Hopkins and representatives from the Navy Department.

In discussing the subject letter,1 the following points were brought out:

Mr. Stimson objected to the term “Supreme Commander”. He thought it was beside the point to indicate to Chiang Kai Shek that he would have command of troops in the China theatre because at the moment there were no troops there but Chinese.
Mr. Hopkins wanted an included idea which would indicate to Chiang Kai Shek that President Roosevelt desired Chiang’s participation with the senior members of the Allied Nations in conversations related to all theatres.
Colonel Wyman again discussed the importance of including Burma, Thailand, and Indo China in any China theatre.
Colonel Peck recommended that Chiang Kai Shek be given command of the China Theatre and that it should include all of Burma. Colonel Handy stated that he thought this would create a British obstacle. Colonel Wyman indicated that he believed that Chiang Kai Shek would cooperate with an acceptable British commander for that theatre but that such a commander would have to give him, Chiang, much greater consideration than is now being given him in the Burma [Page 135] theatre.2 The dependence of the Chinese on the Burma supply line made this of the utmost importance.

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Mr. Hopkins brought up the question of bringing the Allied Planning Group representing the southwest Pacific theatre together on a basis of mutual understanding. The Australians offered great difficulty due to their misunderstandings with Great Britain. Mr. Hopkins thought all the interested groups should be included, mentioning particularly New Zealand and Australia. He indicated that the British home government was disturbed as to whom the commander of the southwest Pacific theatre would be responsible. Mr. Hopkins wanted to avoid that issue in an urgent communication3 which was being sent to the Australian Government. This was agreed to and the Chief of Staff indicated that the Australian and New Zealand representatives in Washington should be included in future discussions.

Attached is the message prepared by Colonel Handy (Tab A)4 and the final redrafted message resulting from the conference (Tab B).5

W. G. Wyman
  1. The “subject letter” was the draft of a letter from Roosevelt to Chiang, prepared by Handy for Marshall.
  2. See the reference to the Tulsa affair, post, p. 272. For the difficulties between Wavell and Chiang Kai-shek as a result of Chiang’s offer of troops for Burma, see Romanus and Sunderland, pp. 55–56.
  3. Presumably the President’s reply of January 1, 1942 (post, p. 302), to Prime Minister Curtin’s message of December 23, 1941, to Roosevelt and Churchill ( Foreign Relations, 1941, vol. v, pp. 390391).
  4. Not printed.
  5. “Tab B” is not attached to the file. The draft, as submitted by the United States Chiefs of Staff to the British Chiefs of Staff at the meeting at 4 p.m., is the typed version of the draft memorandum reproduced in facsimile, post, p. 283.