The Ambassador in Mexico (Messersmith) to the Secretary of State


My Dear Mr. Secretary: I have to acknowledge your secret letter of March 23,6 in reply to mine of March 15,6 with which I sent you a copy of a secret letter of that same date to the President,7 reporting [Page 1185] that Dr. Padilla, the Minister for Foreign Relations, had informed me of the desire of President Avila Camacho to offer the participation of a Mexican air squadron at a combat front and to enter into conversations with us covering the appropriate arrangements which General Arnold has in mind regarding this participation.

I received several days later a letter from the President dated March 24,8 in which he stated that he had discussed the matter of the combat participation of a Mexican air squadron with General Arnold and that General Hall, the Deputy Chief of Air Staff, would discuss this matter informally with me and make arrangements for several other officers of General Arnold’s staff to go to Mexico City later at the convenience of President Avila Camacho to discuss details. The President said that these officers would be fully conversant with the details of our suggested plan for equipping and maintaining a Mexican squadron. The President said that he was sure that satisfactory details can be worked out.

Arrangements had previously been made for our Government to decorate General Salinas, the head of the Mexican Military Air Force, and to this end General Hall, the Deputy Chief of Air Staff, arrived in Mexico City on March 26. He arrived with instructions from General Arnold to discuss this matter of possible Mexican participation through an air squadron with me on behalf of General Arnold and with the President of Mexico. The fact that General Hall came here for the purpose of decorating General Salinas made it possible for us to carry through all these conversations while he was here on participation by the Mexicans without any information getting to the press or to others with regard to the conversations which he also carried on with respect to Mexican participation. This was a very fortunate circumstance, as it is desirable for the present that the same reserve be maintained with regard to this matter, as we have maintained up to the present both at home and in Mexico.

On the afternoon of March 27 I took General Hall to call on Dr. Padilla and General Hall conveyed to Dr. Padilla the information which he had previously conveyed to me on behalf of General Arnold. The Minister said that he would be very glad to have some of the information which General Hall had given him specifically with reference to the composition of an air squadron in writing so that he could use it in his conversation with the President in the next day or two. General Hall prepared such a memorandum and I think I can best convey this information by enclosing herewith a copy of the memorandum which General Hall furnished me and which I later [Page 1186] furnished the Minister, Dr. Padilla, for the information of President Avila Camacho. This is enclosure no. 1 to this letter.9

In view of the fact that General Hall had discussed with General Salinas the possible composition of a Mexican air squadron, General Hall wrote me a secret memorandum dated March 29 covering this and I am appending hereto a copy of this memorandum (enclosure no. 2)10 for the record. While I conveyed the information in this memorandum of General Hall’s of March 29 to Dr. Padilla orally, I thought it well to leave a copy with him so that he might be able to inform the President with absolute definiteness as to the degree to which General Hall had discussed this matter with General Salinas—and this in view of the fact that General Salinas has not been informed by President Avila Camacho of the President’s decision that a Mexican air squadron shall actually participate at the combat front.

Later I took General Hall to see President Avila Camacho at his home in Los Piños and Dr. Padilla, the Minister for Foreign Relations, was present. During this conversation the President reaffirmed to General Hall his firm intention to have a Mexican air squadron participate at a combat front. He said that Dr. Padilla had fully informed him concerning the conversation which General Hall and I had had with him. The President said that he was fully in accord with the outline and composition of the Mexican squadron which General Hall had left with him. He said that he would like to have a little further supplementary information and that was as to the rates of pay which the officers and men in an American squadron received. He said that he also wished to have as full information as General Hall could give him as to the cost of maintaining this squadron and he explained to General Hall the information which he wanted. The President said that he would need this information in order that he would be able to prepare the budget for the maintenance of this squadron at a combat front.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . .

One question developed during the course of our conversation with the President which will cause some little delay although no essential difficulty. The President said that it was interesting that all of us had been considering this matter of a squadron at a combat front and that we had not thought of the fact that he was not yet authorized to send troops out of this hemisphere. He said that he had authority from the Congress to use the Mexican Army in this hemisphere but that he had no authority to send them outside of this hemisphere. It [Page 1187] was, therefore, necessary for him to seek that authority from the Congress.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . .

I am transmitting herewith (enclosure no. 3) a copy of a memorandum prepared by General Hall dated April 111 which covers briefly the substance of his conversations here.

I am not going into full detail with regard to the conversations which took place while General Hall was here as General Hall will inform General Arnold fully with regard to details and the substance contained in this letter. I am not writing to the President with regard to this matter but I am enclosing herewith copies of this letter and would ask that a copy thereof be sent to General Arnold and you will use your discretion as to whether a copy should be sent to the President who has shown this interest in this matter.

The important thing for the moment is that there must still be the most complete reserve and secrecy with regard to this decision of the Mexican Government. The President, however, is proceeding with the selection of the personnel for the squadron and he has indicated that it will be ready to leave for training in Texas in two months. General Hall in the meantime is preparing the additional data which President Avila Camacho requested and which the President asked should be sent by General Arnold to me and by me to him. I think I should emphasize that for the present here the matter of the decision of the President to send a combat squadron to the front is still one which has not been communicated to the military authorities, including General Salinas, the head of the Mexican Air Force, who, while he realizes that the President is thinking along these lines, does not know that the President has made this decision and informed us of it.

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I shall keep you informed of developments.

With all good wishes [etc.]

G. S. Messersmith
  1. Not printed.
  2. Not printed.
  3. Supra.
  4. Not found in Department files.
  5. Memorandum entitled “Personnel Requirements by Specialty for a Fighter Squadron”; not printed.
  6. Not printed.
  7. Not printed.