Memorandum of Conversation, by the Assistant Secretary of State (Berle)
Sir Girja came in to see me, at his request. His purpose was principally to maintain contact.
He said that in his position he naturally had to be very quiet and careful. He had been going about the country seeing a number of editors and journalists, off the record, and giving them some general background on the conditions in India.
Of more importance was his account of dealings with Lord Halifax. He said that he had told Lord Halifax that he was convinced they were at the beginning, not at the end, of the long road of Indian resistance. Lord Halifax had eventually sent a long cablegram to London, which was repeated to Lord Linlithgow, evidencing his (Halifax’s) concern about the situation. I gathered that Lord Halifax had urged that attempts at settlement be not abandoned. In response, Lord Linlithgow had cabled Lord Halifax personally, setting out a long justification of what the viceregal government had done, supporting the position at every point, and winding up by saying that Lord Halifax should “pass from the defensive in the United States to the offensive”—which Sir Girja interpreted to mean, start a campaign of propaganda justifying the British position.
Sir Girja added that to date the Indian Government had used a total of fifty-seven battalions in suppressing Indian unrest—a material diminution of their defensive power.
Finally, Sir Girja said that he had received intimations from his staff that our lend-lease and other services had about decided to send no more supplies to India, fearing lest they would be jeopardized by an ultimate Indian revolt. He asked me whether I could confirm this.
I said that I had not definite information on that score, but that I was aware of a feeling of very distinct concern, especially in military circles, as to whether supplies and equipment sent to India might not be lost. I thought it fair that Sir Girja should know this. (I did not tell Sir Girja that the Chiefs of Staff had resolved not to implement the Grady report for just these reasons.)[Page 736]
Sir Girja plainly evidenced his own concern over the situation. He characterized Winston Churchill’s speech as disastrous, and said that in his personal judgment the situation could never be solved as long as Lord Linlithgow remained Viceroy, and Amery remained Secretary of State for India. Sir Girja struck me as a very unhappy man.