893.24/1490: Telegram

The Acting Secretary of State to the Chairman of the Munitions Assignments Board (Hopkins)

My Dear Mr. Hopkins: Reference is made to the action taken by the Munitions Assignment Board on February 3, 1943 disapproving the request made by China Defense Supplies, Incorporated, to assign five C–47 airplanes to China for the use of the China National Aviation Corporation.

Since then a number of significant developments have taken place among which may be mentioned the following:

In the official communiqué issued at Casablanca5 relating to the conference there of the President and Mr. Churchill,6 it is stated that the President and Mr. Churchill had been in communication with Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek and that they had apprized him of the measures which they were undertaking to assist him in China’s magnificent and unrelaxing struggle for the common cause. Accounts in the press relating to the Casablanca conference emphasized inter alia that it had been decided to render all possible aid to China.

On February 9 and 10 General Henry H. Arnold,7 in company with General Sir John Dill,8 conferred with Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek at Chungking concerning plans for offensive operations against Japan.

On February 12 in his address to the White House Correspondents’ Association,9 President Roosevelt, in referring to the Pacific theater of war, stated that “Great and decisive actions against the Japanese will be taken to drive the invader from the soil of China. Important actions will be taken in the skies over China—and over Japan itself. The discussions at Casablanca have been continued in Chungking with the Generalissimo by General Arnold and have resulted in definite plans for offensive operations.”

The presence of Madame Chiang Kai-shek in Washington has given additional significance and weight to the statements of the President.

Press accounts of the joint press conference held by the President and Madame Chiang Kai-shek on February 19 reported that the President stressed the difficulties involved in getting substantial aid to China and emphasized his intention to accelerate the sending of such aid.

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On February 26 the American Ambassador at Chungking telegraphed that the China National Aviation Corporation had, as the result of a forced landing recently in the Yangtze River, lost the use of one of its three passenger planes; that due to the necessity of awaiting replacement of worn-out motors, one of the China National Aviation Corporation planes cannot be operated for the time being; and that service within China has had to be curtailed and the service from China to Calcutta has had to be reduced to two flights a week. The Ambassador urges again the importance of prompt action being taken to furnish the China National Aviation Corporation with additional planes.

Copies in paraphrase of the telegram of February 26 and of a telegram of January 16 from the American Ambassador at Chungking are enclosed. The Department forwarded a copy in paraphrase of the telegram of January 16 to the Secretary of War under date January 23 and at the same time expressed its support of the recommendation made therein and requested that the matter be brought to the attention of the Munitions Assignment Committee.

This Department is in accord with the views expressed by the American Ambassador at Chungking.

The Department believes that the prompt supplying to the China National Aviation Corporation of additional planes would not only be in conformity with the situation as described by the American Ambassador to China but also with the broad political-military considerations mentioned in the first part of this letter. The Department therefore earnestly hopes that the Munitions Assignment Board may give this matter renewed and favorable consideration at an early date.

Sincerely yours,

Adolf A. Berle, Jr.
  1. Department of State Bulletin, January 30, 1943, p. 93. Records of the Casablanca Conference are scheduled for publication in a subsequent volume of Foreign Relations.
  2. Winston Churchill, British Prime Minister.
  3. Commanding General, United States Army Air Force.
  4. Head of British Joint Staff Mission in the United States.
  5. Excerpts printed in Department of State Bulletin, February 13, 1943, p. 145.