Editorial Note

The only record found of the discussion at this meeting is the following extract from the minutes of a special meeting of the Joint Chiefs of Staff held at 4:15 p.m., September 9, at which Marshall gave a report concerning his conversation with Churchill:

General Marshall said he had been sent for by the Prime Minister, whom he saw at the White House about 12:30 today. The Prime Minister said he intended to present to the President the memorandum1 which he let General Marshall read. Mr. Churchill said he also intended to advise the President that there should be a special meeting with the Combined Chiefs of Staff at 5 o’clock this afternoon, and that the idea was that there should be discussions of the points covered in this memorandum but no decisions were to be expected. General Marshall said that the memorandum was evidently prepared primarily with a view to possible German action, such as some underground plot like Caporetto2 in order that we should be prepared for some military coup. He said that with regard to naval consideration, that is, the shifting of vessels to the British Fleet, the Prime Minister’s idea was evidently to buck up their own people, such as the Australians and New Zealanders. Mr. Churchill evidently felt that this would have a good propaganda effect in the Dominions.

General Marshall said before leaving Mr. Churchill, he asked for a copy of the memorandum, and after luncheon he received the memorandum marked ‘Eyes Only’ . . . .” (J.C.S. Files)

  1. Post, p. 1287.
  2. The reference is probably to the decision by the German High Command, during the Battle of Caporetto in the autumn of 1917, to move six German divisions to reinforce the Austro-Hungarian troops fighting against Italy. The Germans moved these divisions with the greatest secrecy, achieved complete surprise, broke the Italian front, and almost succeeded in knocking Italy out of World War I.