740.0011 European War 1939/16081

The Acting Assistant Chief of Staff, War Department (Gerow), to the Acting Chief of the Division of European Affairs (Atherton)

Dear Mr. Atherton: In compliance with your request, I am enclosing a paraphrased copy of two secret radiograms: One sent September 30 to the Commanding General, United States Army Forces in the Far East, and the other dispatched the same date to Major General Chaney, Special Army Observer, in London.

Sincerely yours,

L. T. Gerow

Brigadier General
[Enclosure 1]

Paraphrase Copy Secret Radiogram, War Department to Commanding General, United States Army Forces in Far East, September 30, 1941

Air defense of Philippines–Australia–Dutch East Indies-Singapore Area, would be strengthened if airfields with necessary detachments and supplies, are established and made available to the United States at Singapore, Port Darwin, Rabaul, and Port Moresby and advanced air depot facilities at Rockhampton.

In order to provide these facilities as early as possible, you are requested to contact, at once, appropriate British authorities in the Far East and secure permission for the establishment of advanced air depot at Rockhampton; the use of airfields at Singapore, Port Darwin, Rabaul and Port Moresby for our heavy bombardment and reconnaissance aviation; and the emergency use of other airfields in British possessions. Also contact local Dutch authorities to secure permission for use of their airfields in an emergency.

United States force will be limited to service detachments. Request British and Dutch provide local defenses. The War Department will [Page 498] at once request London authorities to authorize their local officials to enter into necessary agreement.

When permission is obtained, it is desired that you provide immediately two missions of 500-pound bombs and ammunition at Singapore and Port Darwin, and a similar amount at Rabaul or Port Moresby, or divided between the two, for one heavy bombardment group of 35 airplanes. Supplies will be shipped from Philippine stocks. Bombs and ammunition for two missions at these airfields for an additional heavy bombardment group and replacements for bombs shipped from the Philippines will leave the United States about December 1.

If practicable, please arrange for supply of 100 octane gas and appropriate quantities of oil as follows:

Singapore and Port Darwin 300,000 gallons
Rabaul }
Port Moresby
200,000 gallons
Rockhampton 200,000 gallons

Advise if local arrangements not possible. Shipment will then be made from the United States. Advise by radio, if necessary shipping can be secured locally and if use of any U. S. Army transports is required.

Air depot detachment for Rockhampton will be organized in the United States and sent first transportation available. Funds will be allotted by War Department on request.

One airfield between Singapore and Manila is essential for operation of B–17 type bomber. Request you urge British to develop one airfield in North Borneo at earliest possible date.

Additional bombers for Philippines are leaving San Francisco October 3. 19th Bombardment group sails same port October 4. Airplanes move by air about October 20. An additional heavy bombardment group (35 B–17) will be dispatched about January 1, and a dive bombardment group (52 A–24) and two pursuit squadrons (50 P–40) during November and December. Transfer of 35 B–24 bombers as reserve will be made January 1942.

It is planned to increase Philippine air units as rapidly as airplanes and units become available. This will provide 136 operating heavy bombers and 34 additional in reserve; 57 operating dive bombers and 29 additional in reserve; 130 operating pursuit planes with an additional 65 in reserve.

Under consideration is one additional pursuit group, Second Aviation Objective strength. Augmentation to commence about April 1942 and to be completed October 1942.

[Page 499]
[Enclosure 2]

Paraphrase of Secret Cablegram Sent to Special Army Observer, London—September 30, 1941

It is considered that the Air Defense of the Philippines–Australia–Dutch Indies–Singapore Area would be materially strengthened if operating fields with necessary supplies and equipment including bombs, ammunition, gasoline and oil, and service detachments at Singapore, Port Darwin, Rabaul and Port Moresby, and advanced air depot facilities at Rockhampton were available to the United States. To provide such facilities at earliest possible moment, you are requested to contact appropriate British authorities in Far East at once and secure permission for use of these facilities and for emergency use of other airfields in British Possessions for operations by our heavy bombardment and reconnaissance aviation. Also contact local Dutch authorities and secure permission for emergency use of their airfields. United States Forces will be limited to necessary service detachments as determined by you. British and Dutch should be requested to provide necessary local defenses. One field between Singapore and Manila suitable for operations of B Seventeen type bombers is essential to our probable operations. Request you urge the British to develop at least one airfield in North Borneo to necessary extent at earliest possible date.

Desire that you request British authorities in London to authorize their local authorities in Far East to enter into necessary agreements with MacArthur and to cooperate with him in the execution of the above directive.

Expedite report of result of your action.