Memorandum of Conversation, by the Ambassador to Mexico (Messersmith), Temporarily in Washington
When I saw President Roosevelt today I told him that just before leaving Mexico City, the President of Mexico had discussed with me the final designation of Squadron 201, now in training in the United States. President Avila Camacho said that the Squadron would complete training on January 20, and was ready to proceed overseas. It was his understanding that we wished to send it to the European theater. I said that President Avila Camacho had most earnestly and strongly asked me to say to him that it was his desire and hope that the Mexican Squadron would not be sent to the European theater but to the Pacific theater. He asked me to recall to him that about two years ago President Quezon32 had participated in a radio broadcast with President Roosevelt and with him in which radio broadcast President Roosevelt and he agreed to do all they could to free the Philippines from the Japanese. President Avila Camacho said that Mexico could do very little with one squadron, or even a dozen squadrons but it did mean a tremendous lot to the Mexican people to have their Squadron fight in the Pacific theater. He said it was not because Mexico was less interested in the war against Germany but it had [Page 1197] sentimental reasons for wanting the Squadron to fight in the Pacific theater.
In addition to this promise to President Quezon, deceased, he had this high regard for General Mac Arthur,33 whom he knew personally and it would be a tremendous satisfaction to him to have this Mexican Squadron do combat duty under the orders of General MacArthur.
The President of Mexico therefore asked that the Mexican Squadron be sent to the Pacific instead of the European theater.
I said that I had discussed this with General Arnold, the Chief of the Army Air Forces, and I had felt him very understanding and sympathetic towards this request of the President of Mexico. I said that Genera] Arnold had indicated that if the President agreed he, General Arnold, would send a telegram to General MacArthur strongly recommending this matter. I said that such a telegram had been prepared by General Arnold and would be forwarded as soon as President Roosevelt indicated his approval.
President Roosevelt said that he thought the request of the President of Mexico was natural and he realized the reasons for which it was made and thought it desirable that it be carried through. He authorized me, as I had been in contact with General Arnold on the matter, to say to General Arnold that he considered the request of the President of Mexico justified and that he thought it was understandable under the circumstances and that it was his desire and hope that it would be carried through. The President said he hoped that General Arnold and General MacArthur would be prepared to agree to this assignment of the Squadron, as there should be any number of places in the Pacific theater where the Squadron could be used to advantage.
In accordance with the foregoing conversation with President Roosevelt and my conversation with General Arnold the preceding day, I telephoned to General Walsh34 this afternoon to say that the President had expressed this wish and General Walsh said that the appropriate telegram would be forwarded.
There is appended hereto a copy of the telegram35 which General Walsh indicated to me would be sent to General MacArthur.
- Manuel L. Quezon, President of the Philippine Commonwealth, 1935–44.↩
- Gen. Douglas MacArthur, Commander of the U. S. Armed Forces in the Far East.↩
- Maj. Gen. R. L. Walsh, U. S. Army Air Force.↩
- Draft telegram not printed. Telegram No. WAR–80442 was sent to General MacArthur December 21, 1944; not printed (740.0011 E.W./12–1944). Under date of January 2, 1945, General MacArthur indicated that he would be pleased to have this squadron assigned to his command.↩