No. 833


Memorandum of Conversation, by Cloyce K. Huston of the Office of Eastern European Affairs

top secret

Subject: Military Aid to Yugoslavia

Participants: Lord Jellicoe—British Embassy
EE—Mr. Huston

Lord Jellicoe came in today by appointment to say that he had now received instructions from the Foreign Office containing his Government’s comment on the report of Tripartite Committee on Military Assistance to Yugoslavia.1 He said he was rather inclined to pass the comment on verbally, as not only had events outrun the paper, but the Department had already received some of the British views piecemeal and many aspects of the problems raised in the paper seem somewhat academic in view of the lack of availabilities from which to draw aid for Yugoslavia.

[Page 1692]

Lord Jellicoe then said that the British Foreign Office had indicated that it had already accepted the United States view on one of the principal recommendations of the Report, i.e., it had agreed with our view that no offer of arms should be made at the present time and the sending of a team of military experts to Yugoslavia should not now be proposed. The Foreign Office believed that the question of stockpiling was rather premature at this time when little or nothing was available in the way of supplies; they noted, however, that some technical difficulties might arise in connection with the use of Trieste for this purpose, as there was reason to suggest that it might not be prudent to convert Trieste into a place d’armes.

Referring to indications in the Tripartite Report that the French might have considerable supplies of arms available, particularly after MDAP supplies to France began to arrive, Lord Jellicoe said that he personally wondered if there might now be arms lying in France which could be made available to Yugoslavia. He added that time was passing, and it would be a pity if we were suddenly to find Yugoslavia in an emergency needing supplies which were lying idle in France. I told him that we had received no indication that the Yugoslavs had asked for substantial quantities of war materiel from France beyond those included in negotiations for the French-Yugoslav financial settlement, but if they should attempt to secure additional arms presumably the French would consult with the United Kingdom and United States Governments.

Lord Jellicoe then said that the official British estimates of satellite armed strength and the likelihood of satellite attack on Yugoslavia had recently swung nearer to what he understood to be the United States view. Information received from the new British Military Attaché at Belgrade indicated that the armed forces of Hungary, Rumania and Bulgaria had increased, both in men and in armor, to about the strengths mentioned by Tito in his recent speech. It was the British military view, however, that if a satellite attack were to take place it might be postponed until after the “summer maneuvers.”

He concluded by saying that the Foreign Office would be glad to receive any proposals the Department might wish to make regarding an appropriate means of obtaining information regarding Yugoslav requirements in case of attack in order that the three Western countries may plan to meet those needs when they arise.

  1. Regarding the Tripartite Committee on Military Assistance to Yugoslavia and its report issued in October 1950, see the editorial note, Foreign Relations, 1950, vol. iv, p. 1482.