The British Prime Minister (Churchill) to President Roosevelt59

No. 50, April 12th, 1942.60 Former Naval Person to President personal No. 68. I have read with earnest attention your masterly document about future of the war and the great operations proposed. I am in entire agreement in principle with all you propose, and so are the Chiefs of Staff. We must of course meet day to day emergencies in the East and Far East while preparing for the main stroke. All the details are being rapidly examined and preparations where action is clear have already begun. The whole matter will be discussed on evening of Tuesday, the 14th, by Defense Committee, to which Harry61 and Marshall62 are coming, and I have no doubt that I shall be able to send you our complete agreement.

[Page 635]

I may say that I thought the proposals made for an interim operation in certain contingencies this year met the difficulties and uncertainties in an absolutely sound manner. If, as our experts believe, we can carry this whole plan through successfully, it will be one of the grand events in all the history of war.

About 3 AM this morning, the 12th, when contrary to your instructions Harry and I were still talking, the text of your message to me about India came through from London. I could not decide such a matter without convening the Cabinet, which was not physically possible till Monday. Meanwhile Cripps had already left and all the explanations have been published by both sides. In these circumstances, Harry undertook to telephone to you explaining the position, but owing to atmospherics he could not get through. He is going to telephone you this afternoon and also cable you a report.

You know the weight which I attach to everything you say to me, but I did not feel I could take responsibility for the defence of India if everything has again to be thrown into the melting pot at this critical juncture. That I am sure would be the view of Cabinet and of Parliament. As your telegram was addressed to Former Naval Person I am keeping it as purely private, and I do not propose to bring it before the Cabinet officially unless you tell me you wish this done. Anything like a serious difference between you and me would break my heart and surely deeply injure both our countries at the height of this terrible struggle.

  1. Copy obtained from the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library, Hyde Park, N. Y.
  2. Cablegram from London received at the War Department Message Center, April 12, 1942, 10:17 a.m.
  3. Harry L. Hopkins.
  4. Gen. George C. Marshall, Chief of Staff, U. S. Army.