Memorandum by the Secretary of War ( Stimson ) to President Roosevelt 22

Subject: Radiogram from General Mac Arthur quoting President Quezon.

General MacArthur points out that the nature of President Quezon’s letter23 is such that it can properly be answered only by the President of the United States. He requests information as to when reply can be expected.

That portion of Mr. Quezon’s letter on which he asked distribution was sent immediately, through G–2,24 to Colonel Donovan’s25 organization. A radiogram of acknowledgment has been dispatched to General MacArthur.

The following draft of a suggested reply is intended for dispatch by the President to General MacArthur for President Quezon:

“I have read with complete understanding your letter to General MacArthur. I realize the depth and sincerity of your sentiments with respect to your inescapable duties to your own people and I assure you that I would be the last to demand of you and them any sacrifice which I considered hopeless in the furtherance of the cause for which we are all striving. I want, however, to state with all possible emphasis that the magnificent resistance of the defenders of Bataan is contributing definitely toward assuring the completeness of our final victory in the Far East. The gaps existing in our offensive armaments are those that are to be expected when peace-loving countries such as the United States and the Philippines suddenly find themselves attacked by autocratic power which has spent years in preparation for armed conflict. Initial defeats, privations and suffering are the inevitable consequences to democracy in such circumstances. But I have pledged to the attainment of ultimate victory the full man power, finances and material resources of this country; and this pledge of [Page 891] victory includes as an essential objective the restoration of peace and tranquillity in the Philippines and its return to the control of a Government of its own choosing. While I cannot now indicate the time at which succor and assistance can reach the Philippines, I do know that every ship at our disposal is bringing to the South West Pacific the forces that will ultimately smash the invader and free your country. Ships in that region have been loaded and dispatched to Manila with various supplies for the garrison. Already our forces, with those of our Allies, have inflicted severe losses upon enemy convoys and naval shipping and are definitely slowing his Southward advance. Our four engine bombers are daily reporting to General Wavell26 from the trans-African route and more recently via the Pacific. Ten squadrons of pursuit and fighter planes have already been made available in that theater and a steady flow of such planes is crossing the Pacific. Our Navy is heavily engaged in escorting to the same region large troop convoys. Every day gained for building up our forces is of incalculable value and it is in the gaining of time that the defenders of Bataan are assisting us so effectively.

“I have no words in which to express to you my admiration and gratitude for the complete demonstration of loyalty, courage and readiness to sacrifice that your people, under your inspired leadership, have displayed. They are upholding the most magnificent traditions of free democracy.

“Those portions of your letter to General MacArthur on which you asked publicity are being broadcast to the world from Washington. Your words and your example will rally to renewed effort not only the people of your own country but all those that in every section of the globe are enlisted in the fight for democratic principles and freedom in government.”27

Henry L. Stimson
  1. Copy obtained from the Franklin D. Roosevelt Library, Hyde Park, N. Y.
  2. See supra.
  3. Military Intelligence Division of the War Department.
  4. Col. William J. Donovan, Coordinator of Information.
  5. Gen. Sir Archibald P. Wavell, British Commander of the American-British-Dutch-Australian Area, an Allied command including the Philippines, the Netherlands Indies, Malaya, and Burma.
  6. Marginal notes: “OK Send FDR”; and “Col. Gailey states this case has been dispatched.” Colonel Gailey was Executive Officer of the War Plans Division.