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August 20, 1940 [Washington, D.C.]
Conference held in Office Chief of Staff at 12:30 p.m. this date.1
“The transfer of the following materiel to the British is O.K.:2
5B-17 planes, without bomb-sights.
5,000,000rounds cal. 30 ammunition.
Colonel Stimson understood that the 5 million rounds of cal. .30 ammunition was from the fifty million rounds at ten million a month previously promised the British, which I now consider too essential to our defense to permit the transfer.3
G. C. M.”
900,000cal. .30 Springfield
Army 2,000,000 — need 1,000,000
Home Guards 500,000
Document Copy Text Source: Records of the War Department General and Special Staffs (RG 165), Records of the Office of the Chief of Staff (OCS), Foreign Sale or Exchange of Munitions File, National Archives and Records Administration, College Park, Maryland.
Document Format: Typed notes.
1. Lieutenant Colonel Orlando Ward took these notes.
2. During the negotiations with the British over the exchange of United States destroyers for the right to create military bases in certain British possessions in the Western Hemisphere, the United States agreed to include several additional military items. Under Secretary of State Sumner Welles prepared drafts of an agreement on August 19. At noon the following day, Marshall held a staff discussion of the army’s role in the proposed agreement. The memorandum printed here resulted from that meeting. The additional military items were not included in the September 2 destroyers-bases agreement, but they were ultimately furnished. (For further details see Conn and Fairchild, Framework of Hemisphere Defense. pp. 52-60.)
3. Marshall had previously urged Secretary of War Stimson to cancel the United States obligation, made in a June 6 agreement, to allocate to the British 50,000,000 rounds of .30 caliber ammunition from current production. “The critical situation in the Philippines makes further releases to the British Purchasing Commission now impracticable, as the caliber .30 ammunition involved must be diverted to the Philippines to meet in part the urgent requirements of the Commanding General of that Department. I feel therefore that it is imperative that I notify the British Purchasing Commission that the War Department is unable to release any additional caliber .30 ammunition at this time.” (Marshall Memorandum [drafted by Major Walter B. Smith] for the Secretary of War, August 7, 1940, NA/ RG 165 [OCS, Foreign Sale or Exchange of Munitions File].)
Recommended Citation: The Papers of George Catlett Marshall, ed. Larry I. Bland, Sharon Ritenour Stevens, and Clarence E. Wunderlin, Jr. (Lexington, Va.: The George C. Marshall Foundation, 1981- ). Electronic version based on The Papers of George Catlett Marshall, vol. 2, “We Cannot Delay,” July 1, 1939-December 6, 1941 (Baltimore and London: The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1986), p. 292.