President Roosevelt to Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek 49

I have just received your message forwarded to me by General Stilwell.

The rapid advance of the Axis forces in the Middle East, suddenly confronted the United Nations with a most critical situation. This movement, if not stopped, will result in the severance of the Air Routes to India and China, and seriously interfere with, if not interrupt, our sea lanes to India. It is imperative that the Middle East be held. All reinforcements possible are being rushed to block the Axis advance.

The urgency of the situation demanded that any and all means immediately available be dispatched to preserve our lines of communication to the China Theater. Accordingly the heavy bombers of the 10th Air Force were ordered to the Middle East.

The diversion of these planes is a temporary measure compelled by this sudden crisis. Upon arrival of sufficient air power to secure our lines of communication, the planes will be returned to the 10th Air Force.

A decision has not been made as to the theater in which the squadron of A–29 light bombers now departing from the United States will be used. This squadron has been ordered to await instructions at Khartoum. In the meantime the medium bombardment and pursuit echelon of the 10th Air Force will continue in the support of your Forces.

I reassure you that the United States and our allies do regard China as a vital part of our common war effort and depend upon the maintenance of the China Theater as an urgent necessity for the defeat of our enemies.

  1. Photostatic copy obtained from the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library, Hyde Park, N. Y. Message transmitted by the War Department. The text of the message is preceded by the following instruction: “Please hand the following message personally and promptly to Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek.”