Memorandum by the Director of the Office of Near Eastern and African Affairs (Henderson) to the Secretary of State

Mr. Byrnes: You will recall that before your departure for London you approved a suggestion made by this office that an informal inquiry be made of the War Department regarding the extent of force which might be required to maintain order in Palestine and near-by areas in case disturbances should take place as a result of decisions to open Palestine to Jewish immigration.

The Department’s informal inquiry62 and the informal reply of the War Department63 are attached hereto as of possible interest to you.

It will be Observed that the War Department estimates that 400,000 men would be needed, including both British and American troops. Detailed information regarding the British portion of this force is not available but the War Department is of the opinion that the possible United States commitment would be at least four or five divisions, with supporting air and service forces, or a total of 200,000 or perhaps even over 300,000.

The memorandum takes the position that the use of American forces in this respect would result in an indefinite delay in the carrying out of demobilization plans, while the effect of the disturbances upon the commitments of the British and French in the Middle East would decrease their ability to share in the occupation of Japan and Germany.

It would seem that the number of troops needed would depend to an extent, upon the character and scope of such uprisings as may take place. We believe that it is just as difficult for the War Department as for this Department to foresee precisely how extensive the disturbances might become. We should therefore bear in mind in examining the figures presented by the War Department that those figures must be regarded as estimates based upon developments which cannot be accurately foreseen. Nevertheless, these figures are of interest since British military experts may use similar methods in calculating the number of troops which would be necessary in case disturbances should follow decision to open Palestine to Jewish immigration. If British military authorities are submitting similar estimates, the opposition of the British Government at this time to the opening of the doors of Palestine to Jewish mass immigration is understandable.

Loy W. Henderson
  1. See footnote 20, p. 725.
  2. Memorandum by the War Department to the Department of State, September 19, p. 742.