740.0011 Pacific War/3915

Memorandum by the Second Secretary of Embassy in China (Davies), Temporarily in Washington, to the Secretary of State

During the two years that I have served as a diplomatic officer on detail to the United States Army Forces, China–Burma–India, I have had the opportunity to observe at close hand General Stilwell’s activities. Because of conditions in China and India and because of the policies of the Chinese and British Governments, General Stilwell’s activities have to a great extent been political in character. Therefore, much of what General Stilwell has done during the two years of his present command is of legitimate interest to the Department of State.

General Stilwell’s mission is to open through North Burma a land route of communications into China and to increase the combat effectiveness of the Chinese Army to the end that China may make its maximum possible contribution to the common war against Japan. For reasons of political policy the British have consistently obstructed the opening of a land route across North Burma. And the Generalissimo, determined to conserve military strength and mistrustful of his generals, has given minimum cooperation to General Stilwell’s efforts.

In this situation, which would long ago have caused a less stouthearted and conscientious officer to ask for his own transfer, General Stilwell has persevered in attempting to carry out his mission. He has shown an acute understanding of fundamental political issues and American interests in Asia. Subjected to Chinese and British blandishment and pressure, General Stilwell has steadfastly refused to compromise these interests.

During the last war we had an expeditionary force in Asia (Siberia) headed by General Graves. In the foreword in General Graves’ memoirs, America’s Siberian Adventure,86 Newton D. Baker87 stated that our allies described General Graves to President Wilson as “an [Page 32] obstinate, difficult and uncooperative commander”. Baker went on to reveal that when he reassured the President “of the complete fidelity of General Graves to his policy, in the face of every invitation and inducement of the Allied Commanders”, the President replied—“‘I suppose it is the old story, Baker, men often get the reputation of being stubborn merely because they are everlastingly right’”.

John Davies
  1. Gen. William Graves, America’s Siberian Adventure, 1918–1920, (New York, Jonathan Cayse & Harrison Smith, 1931), p. xi.
  2. Secretary of War, 1916–21.