841.248/12012/4: Telegram

The Personal Representative of the President in India ( Johnson ) to the Acting Secretary of State

190. For the President and Acting Secretary. I summarize a two and a half hour conference with General Wavell today as follows:

1.
All the troops are in the northeast of India and must be used “for a card of reentry into Burma whenever we are able to make an offensive.”
2.
“Calcutta can be defended only through adequate bomber and fighting plane force.” Please see my 155 April 6, 5 p.m.,63 to which as optimistic and definite an answer as possible ought to be given at the earliest possible day. Presence large number planes Calcutta area probably steady population and enable continuation industrial operations now severely curtailed. Estimate 700,000 people already evacuated Calcutta. If Calcutta goes, India goes.
3.
Wavell asked that preceding a radio talk seeking to allay fear to be made by him middle of next week, I hold press conference asserting confidence that India will not fall and our cause will prevail. Have refused to communicate with press since arrival, but because of this request am arranging to meet with the press Tuesday, April 28, at 4:30 p.m. Will quote figures given by President at opening session of Congress64 and would appreciate any further messages or suggestions.

Understand that Welles made a statement to people of India. It has not been released or published here, nor has it been received by us. Censorship terrible and certainly not pro-American or pro-United Nations.

Johnson
  1. Not printed; but see last paragraph of telegram No. 145, April 4, 8 p.m., from the Personal Representative of the President in India, p. 626, and footnote 48, p. 627.
  2. Address delivered before a joint session, January 6, 1942; for text, see Department of State Bulletin, January 10, 1942, p. 39.