Memorandum of Conversation, by the Minister in Canada (Moffat)

At lunch today I discussed with Mr. Robertson15 the question of Canada’s desire to have a Military Mission in Washington. I explained that our Services saw a great disadvantage in having at one and the same time the Permanent Joint Defense Board and a Military Mission, unless the latter were merely a name to cover the Service members of the Permanent Joint Defense Board who would reside [Page 134] permanently in Washington. We had always understood that if the United States became a full belligerent the Permanent Joint Defense Board would go into abeyance, to be resurrected at the end of the war, but this stage had not yet been reached. Look at it as they would, our people could not see the advantage of two separate bodies with different personnel discussing the same subjects with the United States Government. I had been forced to conclude that Canada’s interest in the Mission was largely psychological and that for domestic reasons she attached importance to the title of “Mission” and to having constant interchanges between our respective Services rather than occasional meetings plus intermediate telephone conversations. I then told Mr. Robertson that I continued to feel that the Canadian request had never been made very specific either as to personnel or as to the functions of the Mission.

Mr. Robertson said that this conversation put a somewhat different light on the matter and that he would see that it was rediscussed in Cabinet and a definite statement given us of Canadian desires. Personally, he felt that since in effect we had passed amicably from stage one to stage two in the matter of Naval Command, there was no longer the same urgency as formerly for a Mission. But that opinion should not be taken as reflecting either the Cabinet or the Service Chiefs of Staff.

  1. Norman A. Robertson, Canadian Under Secretary of State for External Affairs.