Memorandum of Conversation, by Mr. Alger Hiss, Assistant to the Adviser on Political Relations (Hornbeck)

Participants: Colonel William Wood
Lieutenant Colonel Pennoyer
Mr. John Carter Vincent and
Mr. Alger Hiss

Pursuant to an appointment Messrs. Vincent and Hiss called on Colonel Wood and Colonel Pennoyer in an endeavor to ascertain informally views of the War Department with respect to the communication under reference.34

[Page 611]

A copy of the British communication of August 19 was left with Colonel Wood and a brief indication was given of the present attitude of the Department as indicated in a memorandum of conversation with Mr. Ray of the Lend-Lease Administration dated August 27.

Colonel Wood said that he thought the War Department had much the same view of the route that this Department has and that so far as he could see a reply along the lines suggested would be suitable. It was agreed that if after further consideration the War Department had any suggestions to make Colonel Pennoyer would call Mr. Hiss some time next Monday (August 30).

Colonel Pennoyer subsequently telephoned to say the War Department had no further comments to make with respect to the Department’s proposed reply. He said, however, that he had some question as to whether we should indicate that our approval of plans relating to the proposed route depended solely on political considerations. At this point I reminded him that the formula which the Department has had in mind should not give rise to any such implication. I said that according to my understanding of the Department’s view, political considerations outweigh the economic potentialities of the route. It is not our view that political considerations are the sole reasons for the assistance which the United States has agreed to contribute, in form of trucks. Colonel Pennoyer went on to say that in any event he thought on such a question as that the judgment of this Department should be controlling and would be satisfactory to the War Department. He also said that the War Department was heartily in favor of it being made clear that this Government would not wish any new approach to the Chinese by the British to have the appearance of involving this Government in any additional commitments with respect to the furnishing of trucks or other supplies for the operation of this route.

  1. British memorandum of August 19, p. 608.