842.20 Defense/11–1246

Memorandum by the Assistant Chief of the Division of British Commonwealth Affairs (Parsons)


The following developments, all related to Canadian consideration of basic joint defense problems, took place during the first ten days of November and are summarized for the record.

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Ambassador Atherton reported in late October the resentment of Canadian military authorities faced with a peremptory request from Field Marshal Montgomery to rubber stamp his alleged agreement with General Eisenhower on standardization of arms. The London press story of October 30 on this subject extended Canadian resentment to high civil service and political levels. Mr. Atherton reported that the Prime Minister had been particularly annoyed at the false allegation that standardization was first broached by him in London last April at the Prime Ministers Conference. Moreover, he acted promptly (a) to make the position clear to the British High Commissioner at Ottawa, (b) to instruct the Canadian High Commissioner at London to do likewise, and (c) to advise the United States through Mr. Pearson that no commitments to the British had been made. Mr. Atherton also reported that there remained a definite undercurrent of concern lest General Eisenhower had somehow been persuaded that Montgomery was in a position to speak for Canada as well and had made commitments on that basis. Additionally, in contrast to the official sensitivity, the press in Canada had been generally enthusiastic over the reported Anglo-American agreement in principle on United States-British Empire standardization.

On November 5, I called on Major General Norstad16 and made the following points:

The resentment of the Canadian military (earlier communicated through General Henry17 to General Eisenhower) was not personal but rather stemmed from Canadian concern as to her sovereign freedom of action.
I sought and received authorization to ask Ambassador Atherton to make clear at his discretion that General Eisenhower was fully aware of Field Marshal Montgomery’s inability to commit Canada and that no commitments have been made on that basis.
I hoped that at the technical meetings commencing November 11 between United States, United Kingdom and Canadian military authorities, a special effort could be made to recognize Canada’s equal status, if not stature.
I impressed upon General Norstad that Montgomery’s action and the British press statement had created a situation favorable to the United States as was evidenced by the fact that Prime Minister King had now accepted the President’s oral message of October 28 as a basis for further consideration of joint defense. Moreover, Mr. Atherton had received a letter from Mr. Pearson recommending that the matter be pursued through high political and diplomatic channels.

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General Norstad was emphatic in his denial that General Eisenhower had in any way accepted Montgomery as a spokesman for Canada or had made any commitments. He pointed out that the record now showed and would continue to show that we deal with Canada on a basis of equality and that when any question of concern to Canada came up in U.S.-U.K. talks, we invited Canada to participate. …

General Norstad also stated that General Foulkes18 would be coming to Washington the week of November 11–16 and that General Eisenhower personally wished to see him.

Subsequent to the foregoing, Mr. Atherton reported that General Foulkes had no plans to come to Washington and apparently had no invitation to do so. In General Norstad’s absence, General Lincoln19 informed me that the Army member of the Canadian Joint Staff Mission, General Brownfield, was the source of the information that General Foulkes would be coming to Washington.

The question of a visit from General Foulkes at this time becomes academic because General Lincoln also stated that all Canadian high military officials in Washington have been called to Ottawa next week when the Defense Committee of Cabinet will consider the President’s oral message. In addition, the Secretary of State for External Affairs is being called back from the Assembly Meeting in New York for the same purpose.

(Finally, as reported in a memorandum of conversation20 dated November 7, 1946, between the Canadian Ambassador and Minister and Messrs. Hickerson21 and Parsons, it was suggested that the next discussions on basic joint defense problems might be carried on in Ottawa by Ambassador Atherton with no U. S. military participants. However, the Canadian Ambassador made clear the desire of the Canadian Government for information from our top military people on broad strategic concepts in as much as the Canadian Government is mindful that in any future war it would have to provide for offense as well as defense.)

  1. Maj. Gen. Lauris Norstad, Director, Plans and Operations Division, War Department General Staff.
  2. Maj. Gen. Guy V. Henry, Senior U.S. Army Member, Permanent Joint Board of Defense.
  3. Lt. Gen. Charles Foulkes, Chief of the General Staff, Canadian Army.
  4. Brig. Gen. George A. Lincoln, Chief of the Strategy and Policy Group, Plans and Operations Division, War Department General Staff.
  5. Not printed.
  6. John D. Hickerson, Acting Director, Office of European Affairs.