Memorandum by the Chief of the Division of British Commonwealth Affairs (Hickerson) to the Adviser to the Liberated Areas Division (Moffat)


I am sorry that you did not go to the meeting last Monday of the Joint War Aid Committee, United States and Canada, for almost the entire discussion was devoted to China. I had hoped by now to have first draft copies of the minutes. I think it desirable to write this memorandum giving some impressions of the meeting.

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Soon after the Mutual Aid Committee was formed it was agreed that the Canadian stock pile in India for China should be held at 12,500 tons. About two months ago the Canadians sent out the first consignment of the goods to constitute this stockpile. The Joint War Aid Committee had already approved the goods but certain items were, I think, on the conscience of the Canadians and they wished the Committee to know about them. These were trucks. The Canadians pointed out in the meeting that the term “ancillary equipment” included trucks to transport guns, ammunition and parts. These trucks are ordinary trucks which, as you know, are in short supply. At the meeting at the time there was an acrimonious discussion about the obvious foolishness of sending trucks to India to be immobilized at a time when trucks generally were in an acute shortage. It was the view of the Committee that no further shipments of that sort should be made.

The Canadians at the meeting last Monday brought forward for clearance with the Committee a list of the military equipment to comprise the second shipment of Chinese material to India; this shipment will complete the 12,500 ton stock pile. You will note that this list includes 375 three-ton trucks. When Bill Batt21 saw that item he hit the ceiling and we went over much the same ground which we [Page 974]traversed two months ago. The Canadians referred to the Department of State’s memorandum of May 15 in which it was stated that the Chinese have requested that General Stilwell take custody of Canadian material shipped under mutual aid and they added that in these circumstances they assumed that General Stilwell would be able to make effective use of any Canadian war material shipped to India pending the time that it could be transported to China. Lauchlin Currie22 said that this was not the case and that the net effect of the Chinese request that Stilwell take custody of the Canadian material was that he would have charge of warehousing it without the right to use it unless the Chinese Government gave special permission. He pointed out that since the title to the material furnished to China by Canada passed to the Chinese Government when the goods were actually shipped from Canada, this material was in exactly the same position as the American purchase supplied to China prior to May 1942, and that we were still arguing with the Chinese Government about the right to use this material.

Mike Pearson23 quoted the whole sentence from our memorandum referring especially to the phrase “and to assure the most effective use of war material destined for China” and said that he assumed that this meant that General Stilwell could actually use Canadian material without special permission from the Chinese. Lauchlin Currie insisted that that was not the case but that the situation was as he had described it and that all General Stilwell could do would be to accept custody for the goods which were controlled exclusively by the Chinese authorities. I was unfortunately not in a position to interpret the language of your memorandum. What precisely is the situation?

In saying his piece again on the complete foolishness of immobilizing trucks in India Bill Batt learned from the Canadians that they have 1000 three-ton trucks in Canada which are unallocated. He made a careful note of this and said a little grimly that they wouldn’t have them long or otherwise he wouldn’t have anything to say about immobilizing trucks.

The United States War Department officers said that warehouse space in India was at a premium and that it would really be asking a lot of General Stilwell to put on him the burden of finding storage space for this additional Canadian equipment. They therefore said that they proposed to take up with the War Department a suggestion that a telegram be sent to General Stilwell to decline to accept custody of this material for the Chinese unless he was given full authority over it to be used as he saw fit. The Canadians said that they of course had no objection to this procedure and that they had in fact intimated [Page 975]to the Chinese that they felt the material ought to be made available for use pending the time that it could be transported to China. They agreed to send a further message in this sense to the Chinese.

All of the foregoing relates to material which has already been approved by the Committee for shipment to India comprised in the 12,000 ton Canadian stock pile. The Committee then discussed briefly the future position. The Canadians said that the report of the ad hoc committee of March 23, 1944 was not satisfactory to the Canadian Government and they circulated a memorandum entitled “Supply to China” giving a counter draft or rather an interpretation of this report. The Canadian memorandum is attached.24 General York appointed a sub-committee to look into this matter and to report to the next meeting. I should be glad to have your comments on the Canadian draft.

It was a hot day, the air conditioning in the Chiefs of Staff Building was working badly and altogether it was a bad meeting.

John D. Hickerson
  1. William L. Batt, Vice Chairman, International Supply, War Production Board.
  2. Administrative Assistant to President Roosevelt and Acting Deputy Administrator of FEA.
  3. Lester B. Pearson, Minister Counselor of the Canadian Embassy.
  4. Not attached to file copy.