Memorandum of Conversation, by the Counselor of the Embassy in the United Kingdom (Penfield)1

top secret

I called on General Morgan2 in his office this afternoon. During the course of our conversation he made the following comments regarding his new duties which he formally assumed about October 1:

He had just concluded a tour of what he referred to as his “Northern diocese”, and said that he had been pleasantly surprised and greatly encouraged by the attitude of the people working in the program. He said they had a real enthusiasm and esprit which he felt indicated that they were doing effective work.
He said that, although he believed there were only two unsettled points in connection with Dr. Penney’s negotiations in Washington, he was rather pessimistic regarding the outcome. He exhibited not the slightest resentment over the difficulties being encountered by Dr. Penney, but on the contrary showed a very understanding and sympathetic attitude toward the public and private difficulties faced by the American authorities. He confirmed that the only steps that the British have taken to develop their own facilities is to send out a few reconnaissance parties.
General Morgan said that the thing which bothered him most about his set-up was the security situation. He indicated that the Government’s decision regarding revised procedures which was made as the result of the recent U.S.–U.K. security talks in London has not yet been implemented because the Cabinet had not given final approval. He explained that the contemplated changes had important internal political potentialities, and gave as his private opinion that nothing would be done before the elections. He was, however, optimistic that no matter which Party wins, the situation would be very quickly cleared up after the elections are over.
He anticipates that if, as is generally expected, the Conservative Government comes into power after October 25th, there will almost certainly be a reorganization of the atomic energy program embodying at least some of the ideas advanced by Lord Cherwell3 in the House of Lords debate on the subject early last summer. (In view of Lord Cherwell’s close association with Churchill and the latter’s great reliance upon him in scientific matters, this would seem to be almost a foregone conclusion.) General Morgan, however, does not expect any immediate drastic action, as he tends to believe that the atomic energy [Page 775] program reorganization will form part of a larger governmental reorganization involving the rationalization of the previously conflicting responsibilities of the Ministry of Supply, Ministry of Materials and Board of Trade.
General Morgan emphasized several times during the conversation his desire to develop closer and mutually profitable Anglo-American atomic energy relations, but he had a very realistic and sympathetic understanding of the American side of the problem. In this connection he expressed the hope that Colonel Damon’s4 arrival could be speeded up so that the gap left by Colonel Langguth’s5departure could be filled as promptly as possible.

J[ames] K. P[enfield]
  1. Transmitted as the enclosure to despatch 1777 from London, October 16.
  2. Lt. Gen. Sir Frederick Morgan, British Controller of Atomic Energy.
  3. Philosopher, physicist, and statesman. Personal assistant to Prime Minister Churchill, 1940; Paymaster-General, 1942–1945.
  4. Lt. Col. John C. Damon, Assistant Army Attaché, United States Embassy in the United Kingdom.
  5. Lt. Col. Paul O. Langguth, former Assistant Army Attaché, United States Embassy in the United Kingdom.