2-413 Memorandum for the Secretary of War, April 4, 1941

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: April 4, 1941

Memorandum for the Secretary of War

April 4, 1941 [Washington, D.C.]


Subject: Staff Conference at Singapore.

I request authority to send the following radio to the Commanding General, Philippine Department:

Advice has been received that the British Commander-in-Chief, Far East, will conduct a staff conference on April 18, 1941 at Singapore. The representatives of Australian and New Zealand Governments; Netherland East Indies; British Commander-in-Chief, China; British Commander-in-Chief, East Indies, and the United States are invited to attend.

In this connection you are advised that there was forwarded to you on April 3, 1941, by Naval Courier, report of United States-British Commonwealth Staff Conversations recently concluded in Washington, with letter of transmittal. This report scheduled to reach you April 14. While no approval has as yet been given to the report, nevertheless you are herewith authorized to designate a well informed officer of sound judgment to represent you on the staff conversations referred to above. This authority revokes that specific part of the letter of transmittal in contradiction thereto. Agreements reached in the conference must be subject to approval by the War Department. Commander-in-Chief, Asiatic Fleet has also been authorized to send a representative and he will provide transportation for Army representative.1

Document Copy Text Source: George C. Marshall Papers, Pentagon Office Collection, Selected Materials, George C. Marshall Research Library, Lexington, Virginia.

Document Format: Typed memorandum.

1. Under the agreement of the American-British conversations held in January and February in Washington, a further staff conference, including representatives of the Netherlands, was held in Singapore from April 21 to 27, 1941. Colonel Allan C. McBride, assistant chief of staff, G-3, of the Philippine Department, represented his commander, Major General Grunert; Captain William R. Purnell, chief of staff, Asiatic Fleet, represented his commander, Admiral Thomas C. Hart (U.S.N.A., 1897). (Matloff and Snell, Strategic Planning for Coalition Warfare: 1941-1942, p. 65.)

At the Singapore conversations the delegations formulated a general statement of strategy for the Far East. Emphasizing the defensive nature of operations in the Pacific, they, nevertheless, proposed the organization of air operations against Japan and Japanese-occupied territory, in the event of hostilities. The conference report stressed the importance of Luzon as a strategic base for Far Eastern operations and the importance, therefore, of the defense of the Philippine Islands. (Ibid., p. 66.)

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), pp. 464-465,

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