Memorandum by the Director of the Office of African and Near Eastern Affairs ( Berry ) to the Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern, South Asian and African Affairs ( McGhee )

top secret

Subject: Lend Lease Retransfer of Ammunition to the Egyptian Army


Last February and March the British requested our approval for the retransfer of 164,000 rounds of 75 mm and 2,100,000 rounds of 37 mm ammunition from lend lease stocks to the Egyptian Army.1 No action could be taken on these requests pending determination of our policy on arms shipments to Israel and the Arab States. However, as it has been decided that limited quantities of low potential military equipment will be made available to the Arab States and Israel,2 conversations were held with the British with respect to the ammunition for the Egyptian Army. Since the quantities requested appeared to be entirely out of line with Egyptian training needs, we compiled jointly with the British figures on the number of Egyptian armored vehicles using 75 mm and 37 mm guns as well as figures on the amount of ammunition, according to US-UK training standards, used per year by each armored vehicle. On this basis it was decided that an appropriate amount of ammunition for the Egyptians for one year’s training would be 84,000 rounds of 75 mm and 50,000 rounds of 37 mm. It seemed that the only logical way of proceeding would be to agree [Page 293] on a formula, such as training requirements for one year, which could be readily used in order to defend any criticism regarding these arms and ammunition shipments. It is proposed that we use the same formula for requests from Israel.

It should be added that the British have suggested that since the Egyptians have received no 75 mm ammunition for two years and since 75 mm ammunition is the more important item, we might be willing to release the full amount of 75 mm ammunition requested, i.e. 164,000 rounds. The attached telegram, however, is drafted to approve only 84,000 rounds of 75 mm ammunition as we believe that only one year’s training requirement can be legitimately defended.


It is recommended that you sign the attached telegram to Cairo.3

  1. The initial British request was transmitted to the Department of State on February 28 in despatch 952 from London. (774.56/2–2850) The request was changed on April 28 to that of seeking blanket permission to retain and dispose of certain lend-lease military supplies without further reference to United States authorities. (Despatch 2546 from London, May 24; 780.56/5–2450) The Department of State, after consultation with the Department of Defense, decided not to grant blanket permission. (Airgram 43 to London, July 13;750.56/5–2450)
  2. For documentation concerning this decision which culminated in the Tripartite Declaration of May 25, see pp. 122 ff.
  3. Not printed; this telegram, sent to Cairo by the Department of State on July 10, informed the Embassy of the Department’s decision as noted in the source text and instructed its officers not to reveal to the Egyptians the basis upon which the Department arrived at its decision about the approved quantity of ammunition. (774.56/7–1050)