Truman Papers

No. 1198
The Joint Chiefs of Staff to the President
top secret

Memorandum for the President

In 1942 the munitions resources of the United States and the United Kingdom were insufficient to meet the requirements of the United Nations forces. Therefore, President Roosevelt and the Prime Minister agreed to pool munitions resources and to create Munitions Assignments Boards in London and Washington1 to assign finished war material to the several United Nations in accordance with strategic needs.

From the military point of view, the present combined munitions assignment procedures are no longer necessary or desirable. Combined munitions resources are now generally more than sufficient to insure the success of combined strategy. The British, who are converting many of their own munitions facilities to civilian production, are in a position, through their membership on the Munitions Assignments Board, Washington, to object to the assignment of U. S. munitions to other nations—a matter of primary United States concern.

In the absence of the Munitions Assignments Board decisions on transfers or retransfers of munitions and on the assignment of captured equipment could be made by the Joint Chiefs of Staff or appropriate British agencies. Either nation would still retain the right of appeal to higher authority.

It is recommended that you seek the agreement of the Prime Minister to abolish the Munitions Assignments Board, Washington. A suggested form of a memorandum for the Prime Minister is attached.2 Consultation with the Prime Minister is believed appropriate in view of the agreement between him and President Roosevelt. It is further recommended, however, that if the Prime Minister will not concur you should nevertheless issue an appropriate Executive Order abolishing the Munitions Assignments Board, Washington, and transferring its functions to the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

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If the British Government should desire to abolish the London Munitions Assignments Board, its existing function of assigning enemy equipment captured in Europe should be retained until new machinery now contemplated to perform this function has been established and is operative.

For the Joint Chiefs of Staff:
William D. Leahy

Fleet Admiral, U. S. Navy, Chief of Staff to the Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy.
  1. With respect to the creation of the Munitions Assignments Board, Washington, see Federal Records of World War II (Washington, Government Printing Office, 1950–1951), vol. ii, p. 4.
  2. The attached draft was dispatched without change on July 23. See document No. 1199.