Memorandum of Conversation, by the Minister at Saigon (Heath)


Subject: General Jean de Lattre de Tassigny’s visit with President Truman

Participants: President Truman
General de Lattre
Ambassador Bonnet
Minister Heath

With Ambassador Bonnet I accompanied General de Lattre on his; call on the President on September 14th. The President greeted the General in a very friendly fashion, complimented him on his performance in Indochina and assured him of the United States desire to continue to be of assistance to the French effort there. He reminded him that we had to reckon with Congress which had not yet voted the 1952 Mutual Security Act.

General de Lattre then took over and his remarks closely paralleled those he made to the Secretary later that afternoon (see Memorandum, of Conversation with the Secretary, 9/14/51)1

De Lattre brought up the ever present possibility of a direct Chinese invasion and the President said something to the effect that if that happened we would have to see what could be done.

When de Lattre mentioned his increasing need for artillery due to the fact the Viet Minh now attack at night when French aviation cannot be employed against them, I reminded the General that the President was himself an artilleryman. The President then reminisced pleasantly about his experiences in World War I. He said that he had learned artillery with French 75’s which he described as the best guns in World War I. The President said that he would like to retrace his steps in France and visit the artillery training center he had attended. He was interested to learn that that school is now a continuation school for Saint Cyr, the French West Point.

  1. Post, p. 502.