2-248 Memorandum for the Secretary of War, August 28, 1940

Publisher: The Johns Hopkins University Press
Date: August 28, 1940

Memorandum for the Secretary of War

August 28, 1940 [Washington, D.C.]

At the sudden request of the State Department Colonel Maguire was sent there at 3 P.M. yesterday to be present at a discussion reference Canadian use of Greenland.1

Colonel Maguire informed Mr. Berle of State Department that the War Department had no objections to the Canadians using Greenland as a ferrying station across the Atlantic, and that it was a matter for the State Department to decide. Mr. Berle gave the impression that he was surprised that the War Department did not object.2

However, the matter was discussed and as it now stands the Canadians are authorized to investigate the feasibility of using Greenland as a ferrying station. As we now understand it, ships could not land stocks of gas and oil on the east coast of Greenland before next spring.

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. Lieutenant Colonel Hamilton E. Maguire (U.S.M.A., 1916) was a member of the Intelligence section (G-2) of the General Staff.

2. Adolf A. Berle, Jr., assistant secretary of state, observed in his diary that the problem with the British-Canadian plan was: “If planes can go East that way they can likewise come West; and I’m not enthusiastic about developing an air route which might be used by an enemy to make trouble for us. Also, we have pretty sincerely tried to keep Greenland out of this. And of course the moment it becomes an air ferry station, we should have to contemplate the possibility that the Germans might try to interrupt the place. This brings in the Monroe Doctrine with a vengeance and I regard it as possibly crucial.” Moreover, he believed that “if anybody has a base in Greenland I prefer that we do.” (Navigating the Rapids. 1918-1971: From the Papers of AdoyA. Berle, ed. Beatrice Bishop Berle and Travis Beal Jacobs [New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1973], pp. 331-32.) See Foreign Relations, 1940, 2: 352-76; and Stetson Conn, Rose C. Engelman, and Byron Fairchild, Guarding the United States and Its Outposts, a volume in the United States Army in World War II (Washington: GPO, 1964), pp. 442-58.

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. 296.

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