Copyright
Charles Gates Dawes.

A journal of the great war (Volume 1) online

. (page 12 of 30)
Online LibraryCharles Gates DawesA journal of the great war (Volume 1) → online text (page 12 of 30)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


going ahead along general lines. Have conferred with both
French and English military authorities. Am doing it con-
stantly. Why on earth some one was not doing this on a
comprehensive scale three years ago, between the French
and the English, I do not know. But their present acquies-
cence in any plan for improvement is indicative of a useful
future for our effort.



124 JOURNAL OF THE GREAT WAR

Our work will not involve on our part excessive attention
to detail. It is only necessary to get the proper independent
heads of the three services to conduct their efforts with one
common purpose in mind. To bring them into proper con-
tact and have them evolve the procedure is wiser than to
attempt primarily to suggest procedure to them who have
first contact with actual conditions. My experience in these
first important matters is convincing me of this. The re-
sult of my calling General Langfitt and General Wheeler
here indicates also that to men so intelligent and energetic
as they there is little need of doing anything but bring them
into contact with conditions. We must introduce the active
heads of the supply services of the three armies to each other,
point out the common necessity, and rely chiefly on them to
suggest the steps to meet it. My experience in working for
coordination teaches me that the coordinator must himself
coordinate his mental activities with others. To seek to
display authority is to embarrass progress. Reason must be
king. A good reason carries one farther than a General's
stars. Where one must enforce authority he cannot be too
patient in explaining the reason for its particular exercise.
This, of course, applies to the great changes we are endeavor-
ing to effect in army policies of the three Allies. It is all just
a matter of common sense. 1

General Pershing has talked over with me his wish to
found a great band for the National Army. Colonel Boyd
called me by telephone to say the General was sending to
me for suggestions the report of a board recommending the
instruments to be used. While time is precious, am going
to take occasion to help in this matter, for little is of greater
importance to an army than its music. My idea is that we
should get a fine bandmaster to visit every regimental band
in the army, and select from them the personnel. The way
an organization of this kind starts determines largely its

1 See Report of Daily Activities, June 1 1, paragraph 8, Appendix C,
vol. n, p. 129.




LIEUTENANT-GENERAL SIR JOHN COWANS
Quartermaster-General for the British Armies



SELFISH OPPOSITION 125

career. If it is started, not with the idea of making it a good
band, but the best, it will probably become such. There
should be in the formation of this great organization no
concession to mediocrity; for it will some time march before
one of the greatest armies the world has seen an army
sanctified by suffering, glorified by victory, and first in the
love and pride of every true American.

Paris, June 12, 1918

AM still struggling to get our Military Board in operation.
When I think of what one in military command of the rear
of the three armies could accomplish for their greater strength
in only one month's time, the delay is taxing my patience.
We are waiting for the French to name their man. Shall
have a conference with Tardieu and Ganne to-day and urge
their immediate action. In the meantime the heavy arrival
of pur troops makes imperative greater cooperation in the
rear. Am in daily conferences with our services as to their
necessities. Kernan called on me yesterday. He is an able
officer and a fine soldier as well as executive. Had a con-
ference on Monday with General Pershing who explained his
plans of fighting our American troops. He believes in keep-
ing the men in motion.

Paris, June 13, 1918

I AM thankful that when we started nearly sixty days ago
this effort to coordinate the rear of the armies, we did not
realize the enormous obstacles in the way of it having their
root in individual selfishness and ambition. When a man
looks at a proposition involving the common interest only
from the standpoint of how it will affect his own authority,
he is a hard man to persuade in fact, you cannot persuade
him. The only way you can move him is so to expose his
opposition to reason to all those about him in official position
that his self-clogged soul suddenly realizes that if it longer
opposes reason it will be hurt more than by acquiescing in it.



"




126 JOURNAL OF THE GREAT WAR

It has been my long, weary, and ungrateful task during the
past few months to state the necessity for certain great steps
of Allied self-preservation over and over again so clearly
that selfish opposition to it has to unmask itself and put off
the disguise and pretense of an opposition based upon sin-
cere purposes.

The French were delaying their appointment on our
Board and seemed undecided on the man. This was ex-
plained to me by them as caused by the fact that several men
wanted the place. Yesterday I had appealed earnestly to
M. Tardieu and M. Ganne stating the folly and wickedness
of delay, and this morning was invited to a conference which
they had succeeded in having called. Present were Ministers
Vilgrain and Lavit, M. Tardieu, M. Ganne, and Colonel
Payot, of Foch's Staff, and myself. I think sometimes that
it is fortunate I cannot speak French, for in a crowd of
Frenchmen I stick to the text better. I have no temptation
to digress, for I can't understand anything.

All I have the patience to record here is that somehow,
some way, they all agreed to do as I asked, after about two
hours "go" at it, and stated that they would unanimously
recommend to Clemenceau to appoint Payot. I want also
to record appreciation of the help of Tardieu and Ganne.
It was effective, unselfish, and most opportune.

This afternoon the representatives of the Belgian Govern-
ment called, as I had suggested to Van de Vyvere to have
them do, and I explained the plan to which they acquiesced.

No wonder the Allies have not coordinated better on the
battle-fields! No wonder it took terrible defeats to bring
about military unification at the front! To achieve real
leadership in the army, intelligence, energy, and ambition
must (with other things as well) be united. The soldier in
high position is often consumed with an intense pride.
Everything contributes to inflate his egoism. Suddenly an
emergency requires him to submerge himself for the common
good. If he has a Commander-in-Chief over him, his will is



PERSHING'S PLAN OF CAMPAIGN 127

bent as needed through military discipline. But when the
soldier to make a sacrifice is one in independent command!!!
John Pershing is about the only one over here who is big I
enough to do this and he has done it. Because there are
no more like him my task is so hard. But once we are started
we shall make rapid progress.

Paris, Sunday, June 23, 1918

AM writing this, "3 P.M., upon my arrival in Paris by automo-
bile from Tours.

Last Monday morning General Pershing called me by
telephone to come immediately to Chaumont. I took Cap-
tain Jay with me for company. Left by motor and arrived
at the General's house in time for dinner. In the evening in
his room he outlined his plan of action and programme for
the American military effort. This was in effect a prelim-
inary statement to me of the announcement he made to the
conference of his officers the next morning. But to me he
gave his reasons more in detail. The General believes that
just as the present since it is the moment of the Allies'
greatest weakness has called for Germany's supreme ef-
fort, so the time immediately following the collapse of the
German offensive is the period of greatest weakness for them,
and the time for our supreme effort as quickly as it can be
delivered. He fears reinforcement next year for the Germans
from western Russia. He feels that he must fight vigorously
all along the line, utilizing against a worn foe the fresh and
eager army which he commands. From the standpoint of
enemy morale and our own, vigorous movement will lower ,
theirs and increase ours. He desires to keep the war one of
movement as far as possible. He believes in a constant har-
assing by raids in the intervals between larger attacks, thus
in every way keeping the enemy nervous and on the defen-
sive. Therefore he has determined to demand that America
continue until next April a schedule of shipment of 250,000
troops per month, which by April I will give him an army




128 JOURNAL OF THE GREAT WAR

of 3,000,000 (or more exactly 2,850,000 men). But in the
meantime he will begin to fight with the men he has along
the lines above mentioned. He will take command under
Foch or, as he has told Foch, under any one Foch may
name of the American field army. He has notified the
Secretary of War that he will take care of the men asked for
over here. In other words, he purposely burns the bridges
behind us in order to win victory by insuring our maxi-
mum effort as soon as possible. By August I we shall have
1,250,000 troops here. He called the conference of his lead-
ing officers to announce the plan, and to notify them of
the tremendous burden of effort it will impose upon them
in connection with the supply service. Asking my opinion
I heartily approved. I told him that I believed the supply
service could make good.

Much will depend upon how we can make our Military
Board of Allied Supply function, for to support this pro-
gramme coordination of the rear of the armies becomes im-
perative. Told the General that emergency, more than any-
thing else, compels unity of Allied action; that this was
illustrated by Great Britain furnishing sea transport for
American troops when defeat threatened if she did not ; that
the emergency in supplies which he would create by the
execution of his programme would operate to compel greater
unity in their handling; that troops in the line would not be
allowed to starve; that in emergency all warehouses, all
supplies, everything, would be treated as a common store;
that coordination, impossible to a proper extent between
allied armies not under great pressure, was unavoidable in
matters of food supply when under great pressure ; to sum up
that he had a right in making this programme to assume that
behind a united front were all the resources of supply of the
armies of France and Great Britain and our own army sup-
plies to be handled as one. In the accomplishment of this our
new Board must be made a great factor. This Board makes
it possible if it is properly handled.




ANDRE TARD1EU AS CAPTAIN OF ARTILLERY



PERSHING'S PLAN OF CAMPAIGN 129

Next morning at his headquarters the General announced
formally his plan of campaign to the officers he had invited
to meet him. There were present, besides the General, the
following: McAndrew, Chief of Staff; Kernan, Langfitt
(Major-Generals), Atterbury (Brigadier-General), Connor
(Fox), Logan, Moseley (Colonels of the General Staff), and
myself. With the General's consent I brought Jay to the
meeting. Sherman, of the Shipping Board, was also present.
The plan was approved by all, and we committed ourselves
as representing the supply service.

The General devoted much of his time in the afternoon to
the preparation of the announcement to the army of the
establishment of the Military Board of Allied Supply and
my appointment thereto as the representative of the A.E.F.
He directed McAndrew, Logan, and me to submit a proposed
draft. We did so, and the General promptly proceeded to
write an entirely different and better one. Care is necessary
in announcing to the army this important step so as not to
have it misconstrued by either it or our allies.

In the evening at his house, the General read me the letter
announcing his plan for the war to Secretary Baker and asking
the approval of the President and the Secretary of War. This
we discussed at length as well as the whole situation. As
illustrating the completeness with which the General makes
his plans, and the force with which he presents them, not one
thing was suggested to be changed by any officer after the
fullest discussion. He had prepared the plan some days
before, as well as the letter to Baker. This is the kind of a
leadership that wins to be willing to submit to reason, but
to reason so well that the submission involves neither delay '
nor difference. I am sure my love and admiration for John
is not interfering with my cold judgment when I say that I i
consider him the ablest man in both action and reason in time !
of emergency that I have ever known or shall ever know.

Jay and I left the General's house Wednesday morning
for Paris via Provins and Meaux. (Less than one hour, thirty




130 JOURNAL OF THE GREAT WAR

minutes by motor from Chaumont to Troyes, 55 miles:
quick travel.) Stopped at French General Headquarters and
called on Payot, and talked over plans for our new Board.
Foch and Petain have combined in recommending Payot to
the French War Office for promotion to Brigadier-General as
he takes on these duties. Payot succeeded General Rague-
neau, who commanded the rear of the French army under
Nivelle. He is one of the ablest men in the French army. He
had his supply system both ammunition and rations
so well thought out that the recent great German advance
covering so much territory did not disarrange it. We are good
friends and both feel we shall work well together. We agreed
on headquarters for the Board at French G.H.Q. with an
office also in Paris.

At Meaux, where I had gone to see my friend Harbord,
was greatly disappointed to find him away. Stopped on the
way and took mess with some soldiers (company) of the 2d
Division temporarily out of line. Arrived at Paris in the
evening.

Yesterday morning (Saturday) I left by motor for Tours
taking with me Colonel Sewell who was visiting me in Paris.
Am anxious to see this fine officer and able man called more
into the center of things than he can be at a base port. Went
to Tours to talk with Kernan on the methods of cooperation
between him and myself in connection with the new Board.
Had full and satisfactory conference. Asked him to appoint a
member of his Staff to centralize information on all our army
warehouse situation (all services), as this is the first thing I
want to get started. Expect in this first step in coordination
to effect an enormous saving in our army construction with
the aid of the French. Kernan's man under our direction will
match up information with the French and English and thus
give our Board the basis for an order of coordination. Dis-
cussed other matters with various members of the Staff. Was
entertained at dinner by my friends Smither and McAdam,
of the Staff C.G.S.O.S.



FIRST MEETING OF THE NEW BOARD 131

Paris, June 29, 1918

YESTERDAY afternoon (Friday) the new Military Board of
Allied Supply met at my office for the first time l marking in
my judgment the beginning of an inter-Allied Staff which, if
the war lasts, must be the chief factor in the intelligent use of
the resources of the rear of the Allied armies for the benefit of
the front.

Payot now has charge of the French rear, and this fact adds
greatly to our opportunity for immediate beneficial action.
Beadon, the English army representative, is a good man, but
so handicapped by his superiors, who are still nervous about
the way in which the Board may exercise its powers, that he
acted (as every man must who is not expected to exercise
authority in the company of those who do) as an obstruction-
ist. Still we got through everything which Payot and I
regarded as important.

Before the meeting talked with General Pershing on the
telephone in Payot's presence and explained Payot's ideas.
The General approved them, as they were along the lines
which we have so long been earnestly striving for.

Nothing is slower than an Englishman to move in matters t

involving a possible loss of authority. But when he does move,
and when he gives his word, he stands by it through thick and
thin. Since England is now represented in the plan, her full
and complete sympathy with it is only a matter of time. The
purposes of the Board are such that, as its action develops,
all will put their shoulders heartily to the wheel. Least of all
will England be backward in the time of greatest emergency
which is still before us. Unless this Board can coordinate the
Allied rear, I doubt if in France we can handle the 3,000,000
men who, if the General's plan is carried out, will be in the
American army by April I. That is why I have been so anx- I

ious to get started. Payot and I are in complete accord. /

As he expresses it we have "two heads under one hat." As the

1 See Report of Daily Activities, June 29. Appendix C, vol. n, p. 139.



132 JOURNAL OF THE GREAT WAR

chief measures of coordination are first to be taken between
the French and American armies, we hope to move rapidly,
and the full measure of English constructive cooperation will
come a little later when the influx of our troops makes more
pressing the food situation.

As it is now we are all too prone to think in terms of surplus
instead of deficits, which latter we must do to bring to bear
our maximum effort against the enemy at his time of greatest
weakness Pershing's insistence on troops and his general
plan have been determined largely by his confidence that the
rear can be made to support properly the front. And it will.

Thursday night had a narrow escape in the air raid. Two
bombs dropped near the hotel. General Winn, Junior Ames,
and I were watching the raid from my window on the fourth
floor of the Ritz about midnight. When the appalling ex-
plosion occurred, found myself half across the room from my
window sitting in an armchair. The hotel was not directly
struck, but its glass was shattered everywhere. One man on
our floor severely cut. 1 The wounded in the hotel and vicinity
were not numerous, but some were severely hurt, and on the
street some were killed. Junior took a wounded woman to
the doctor's in a taxicab. This makes about my thirtieth
air raid or thereabouts but it has given me an added
respect for a bomb. It is certainly a case where "familiarity
does not breed contempt." We have had raids for the last
three nights.

Paris, July 3, 1918

THE usual meeting of our Military Board was held at my
headquarters yesterday. The English are cooperating like
the thoroughbreds they are. Consulted with General Per-
shing relative to the machinery to be installed in our own
army to give me, as a member of the Board, the authority
over our own services necessary to enable me to coordinate

1 It afterward developed that this man a waiter at the hotel was
struck by shrapnel in two places and severely wounded.



FOCH AND THE BOARD OF SUPPLY 133

our rear with the French and the English. Am in too much
of a whirl of work to write details. Subsequent events will
develop a record of them in official papers.

General Pershing is daily conferring with the Allies. He
wants to give them enough American troops to keep their
defense lines stiffened, without unduly delaying the accumu-
lation of his army of the offensive Meantime he is daily
harassing the enemy. Thank God for this great man of
action. The French made ceremonial calls on us at my head-
quarters this afternoon. But in the life of this particular
individual at this particular time there is no time for extended
ceremonies. Harbord sent me a bayonet with the "compli-
ments of the Marine Brigade." This division saved Paris.
Air raids nearly every night. Since my narrow escape the
other night in the bomb explosion near the Ritz am a trifle
"gun-shy."

Paris, July 8, 1918

YESTERDAY (Sunday) went for first time to the headquarters
established by the French army for the Military Board of
Allied Supply. Was accompanied by General Jadwin and
about eight of my personal staff of assistants. Colonel
Smither arrived at night, having been delayed. Cannot spare
time to describe at length our magnificent headquarters.
They consist of a chateau (modern) at Coubert, where the
members of the Board will live (when at Coubert), and an old
castle for our Staff about a quarter of a mile away, built in the
year 1550 and occupied at one time by a sister of Louis XIV
(so they said). The French have outdone themselves in pro-
viding impressive and convenient surroundings for us. At the
meeting of the Board Payot presided. He came in from Foch's
headquarters angry. At Versailles the other day Lord Milner,
in the presence of Lloyd George, said to Clemenceau that it
was clearly understood that Foch had no control over our
Board. Clemenceau repeated this to Foch, who was irritated
over it. He called Payot to his headquarters yesterday morn-





134 JOURNAL OF THE GREAT WAR

ing and forcibly expressed himself in the matter hence
Payot's attitude. Payot proceeded to take it out on Beadon.
We all in reality clearly understood that Foch does not have
a military control of us. It is logical that he should Pershing
recommended it but after a long contest with the Eng-
lish, who opposed it, our compromise of a unanimous consent
provision was reached. Everything was and is understood
but the English keep "rubbing it in," and the French kick
back every time. However, somewhat through my efforts
we finally settled down to business and took up warehouse
and construction coordination. Have asked G~4, G.H.Q.,
and G~4, S.O.S., each to name a man for my Staff. We shall
rapidly collect the information from the three armies neces-
sary to base our decisions upon. We must proceed wisely and
firmly. Unquestionably we have in our hands the power if we
but act with wisdom.

Payot saw Pershing Saturday and the General told him
that anything Payot and I recommended would be ordered
into effect by him in the A.E.F., which makes it possible for
Payot and me to coordinate the French and American rear
even if the English do not join. I know, however, that on the
essential and important things the English will cooperate to
the limit. No one could ever make me believe to the con-
trary. They, however, are very cautious.

To-day received a telegram saying the Commander-in-
Chief desires me to take up the horse situation (artillery)
immediately through Tardieu. Am pressed by an emergency
somewhere every day owing to the immense increase in our
army. Am trying to do my best, which is all any one can do.

Jadwin is demanding more laborers. Am simply putting on a
little more steam plugging away and not being "rattled."

Stayed all night at our palace called by courtesy "field
headquarters," and came to town this A.M., about fifty min-
utes' ride. Stopped at the Roman ruins of an amphitheater
(Rue des Arenes) for a few minutes.

Am determined that by means of our Board, Foch's needs



A HEAVY BURDEN 135

shall be met from the rear as they are interpreted by Payot.
This is common sense. While the English will not concede the

**

theoretical general authority necessary to make one army
with a single command covering the front and rear they
will, I am sure, when the individual propositions come be-
fore our Board, follow the dictates of common sense and agree
upon remedial action rectifying present conditions. However,
in any event Payot and I can put over two thirds of the rear
in shape to satisfy Foch.

Paris, Sunday, July 14, 1918

MATTERS and time move so swiftly that it is difficult to keep
track of either. As the practical mediator between the French
Government and army and the A.E.F. in supply matters, the
burdens of my position are growing heavier. The division of
an insufficient supply between two imperative necessities
is never easy. In artillery horses, lumber, transportation,
munitions, warehouses in almost every department the
difficult situations exist. But one by one they must be met.
To deserve the confidence of both sides really to deserve it
is my constant effort. As far as possible in anticipation of
decisions and actions I try to keep the French officials and
the heads of our own services advised of the real conditions
confronting each other. The thorough appreciation of
another's necessities lessens the blow when it comes. Each
must make concessions. The common purpose demands it.
An attitude toward the French dictated alone by our own
necessities without reference to the satisfaction of theirs is
fatal to the common cause. It is very difficult for me some-
times to make our officers see this, struggling as they are
under the tremendous load of our military programme.

Friday night General Pershing and I spent the evening



Online LibraryCharles Gates DawesA journal of the great war (Volume 1) → online text (page 12 of 30)