Memorandum of Conversation, by the Ambassador at Large (Jessup)

top secret

Subject: Message from Mr. Bevin to the Secretary

Participants: Mr. Lovett1
General Omar Bradley
Mr. Matthews, G2
Mr. Jessup, S/A

In accordance with the Secretary’s instructions Mr. Matthews and I called on Mr. Lovett at 11:30 this morning. Mr. Lovett asked General Bradley to join us. They both read my memorandum of conversation with Sir Oliver Franks on January 14th and the text of the personal message from Mr. Bevin to the Secretary which raised the question of [Page 806] consultations about policy in the Far East and about, our strategic air plans.

In regard to the question of the strategic air plans General Bradley said that they already had some talks with Tedder and other members of the British Mission in which they had given them some general indications without going into details which would violate our security requirements. He said he had always assumed that we could not operate out of British air bases unless the UK were in the War with us since otherwise we would be operating from neutral territory which was impossible. Mr. Lovett added that we could not use the British bases without British consent. There was general discussion of the impossibility of making formal commitments about consultation but it was agreed that it was quite reasonable for the British to insist upon some information. It was the common view that General Bradley might say to Slessor that in our planning regarding the use of bases in England we have assumed that if war came the UK would be in it with us. He might then give to Slessor such information about plans as he considered appropriate. It was felt that this could be done in such a way as to allow Attlee with a clear conscience to make to Parliament the kind of statement which he wished to make; that is that the British chiefs were in touch with our chiefs in regard to plans. Mr. Matthews stressed the point that this should be done in such a way as not to lead the British to expect that this would be formalized in a written agreement.

[Here follows discussion of the Far Eastern situation.]

Philip C. Jessup
  1. Robert A. Lovett, Deputy Secretary of Defense.
  2. H. Freeman Matthews, Deputy Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs.