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should be well-nigh discouraged were it not for the confidence
of these dear and loyal friends supporting my authority in
every way, and encouraging me by words of praise and sym-
pathy. The very extent of the powers they place in my hands
is in one sense an embarrassment, for I have constantly to
watch myself in my relations to others lest my usefulness be
interfered with by latent opposition to them.

Foch requested of Pershing increased power over the rear
in supply and transportation. Through Payot, General Foch
keeps in closest touch with our Board. He naturally desires
to put Payot in supreme command of the rear, but John can-


not safely part with the control of the line of communications
to his own command now that the segregation of the armies
has been accepted as best from a military standpoint. John
so notified Foch's emissary, stating that through our Military
Board the necessary measure of central control over the Allied
rear could be maintained without interfering injuriously with
the control of his own rear in other essentials by himself.

In the meantime on last Wednesday I made the first draft
(dictated) of a letter l to the Commander-in-Chief designed to

1 August 24, 1918

*m <f From: The General Purchasing Agent, A.E.F.

To: The Commander-in-Chief, A.E.F.

Subject: Activities of the Military Board of Allied Supply and Relation
of American Member, Military Board of Allied Supply, to
the General Staff, A.E.F.

I. The Military Board of Allied Supply, the formation of which by the
Governments was due to your initiative and strenuous efforts as Com-
mander-in-Chief of the A.E.F., has now been in existence for two months.
Its activities may be summed up as follows:

(1) The first composite picture of the motor transport of the three
armies has been made, the conclusions arising from which are self-
evident and are to-day affecting our army policy. It has considered
the question of a mobile automobile reserve behind the Allied armies,
securing the information for the respective Commanders-in-Chief
in their determination of it.

(2) For the first time a system for the proper circulation and handling
of automobile transports, considering the Allied armies as a whole,
is being studied and arranged and will soon be put into form to be
submitted for your approval.

(3) The first composite study of the forage situation has been made, and
in connection therewith you have reduced the American forage ra-
tion to the British standard and issued additional regulations
against waste, thus tending to relieve a later forage crisis among all
the Allied armies.

(4) Ammunition between the Americans and the French has been
pooled along the front.

(5) For the first time a map has been prepared showing complete in-
stallations in the rear of the three armies as to locations. When the
final details of capacity are secured, the importance of this map in
connection with the consideration of the construction policies of
the three armies is manifest.

(6) The creation of an inter-Allied reserve of 60 c.m. railway material
and personnel is under consideration, which, whether it results in
action or not, will for the first time give such information as to the


set out clearly the importance of the present work of the
Board, and the necessity of guarding against possible diver-
common situation as greatly and beneficially to affect the individual
policy of each army.

(7) The investigations of the Board in connection with labor have
demonstrated the impracticability of pooling the same and therefore
stimulated the independent agencies of recruiting.

(8) The consideration of the general wood and tie situation, while it
precipitated coordination in this particular connection with the
Ministry of Armament instead of through the Board, unquestion-
ably greatly cohtributed to the reaching of the recent satisfactory
understanding with the French on this subject.

(9) It has demonstrated that through it alone can a coming crisis in
supply, transportation, and 'technical military handling of the Al-
lied rear be measured so as to indicate and to justify the necessary
and appropriate preparation for it on the part of each army.

(10) Lastly and of great importance, no member of the General Staff or
chief of independent service of the A.E.F. has attended one of the
meetings of the Board and listened to the discussion of the Allied
situation as a whole without having derived, in my judgment, a
more intelligent understanding of how his activities, whether under
authoritative direction or not, can be conducted in better coordina-
tion with similar activities of our allies.

The importance of its work from a tactical, supply, and military stand-
point, in spite of great opposition, is self-evident.

2. In some respects the name "Military Board of Allied Supply" is
unfortunate. It is apt to create in the minds of the chiefs of services the
idea that it is an organization primarily to pool and divide supplies; in
other words an organization through which somebody is trying to deprive
the A.E.F. of a portion of its already inadequate supply or through which
the A.E.F. is seeking to secure replenishment from the inadequate supplies
of the other armies. Facing an approaching inadequacy of supply, the
Chief, with this conception of the Military Board of Allied Supply, natu-
rally sees in its existence no possible good and only a menace. We encounter
a natural fear in all the armies of a possible authoritative action of any
outside body enabled to interfere with supplies. This feeling ignores the
useful activities of the Board in connection with the coordinated use of
transportation from a tactical standpoint and of construction coordina-
tion, to say nothing of other important matters entirely disassociated
with any question of pooled supplies. As a matter of fact, however, with
each army confronted as it is by insufficient supplies, a situation is indi-
cated in which in the future the existence of this Board and its powers is
rendered of supreme importance not only to the A.E.F., but to the other
armies as well.

The continued importation of American troops and the present condi-
tion of supplies will inevitably create a crisis. Through the force of your
personality constantly exercised and through continued and stern ad-


gence of view in the future between the General Staff and
myself as the American Member of the Board. In my first

monition, you have taught the A.E.F. already to think in terms of emer-
gency and deficit rather than in terms of surplus, for no one has realized
better than yourself that the time is rapidly approaching when a surplus
will turn to a deficit and finally an acute deficit. At such a time the mili-
tary machinery upon which much reliance must be placed is the Military
Board of Allied Supply. The continuance of the importation of troops
during the fall, unless accompanied by a coordinated importation of sup-
plies, apparently impossible, will unquestionably at times create
points and situations along the fighting line where military authority and
not common consent must be relied upon to insure such a distribution of
supplies as will maintain the troops actually at the front. In the distribu-
tion of supplies this Board may not commence to function until the ab-
sence of its functioning means, in a way that is evident to all, that fighting
troops must leave the line. We must look ahead. If one feels that there
will not be a different situation than exists at present about the division
of food supplies when related to the continuance of actual military opera-
tions, it is necessary only to recall the attitude of our friends the English
in connection with ships up until the time of the German victory around
Calais, after which they turned Allied defeat into certain Allied success
by the sea transportation of the bulk of the American army. When the
time of real crisis arises, this Board is the agency through which an intelli-
gent view of the situation is practicable and through which proper meas-
ures can be taken. It is also the only body, by reason of its common knowl-
edge, which can give advance notice of approaching emergencies and make
the suggestions to the armies useful in the attempt to avoid them. If,
from the minds of all, there could be removed the shadow of apprehension
that an outside authority was looking with designing eyes upon our in-
sufficient stocks, it would contribute to the feeling of earnest cooperation
with the Military Board of Allied Supply. As the segregation of the
troops into armies of different nationalities does not affect in any way the
desirability of central military control of movement, so the fact of the
existence of a large field army of the United States should not be allowed
to overshadow the necessity in times of emergency, for the support of that
army, of a central Allied control over certain transportation and supplies,
especially in the military zone. Upon the basis of the retention by the
Commanders-in-Chief of the respective armies of the final authority for
the distribution and transportation of supplies to their respective armies,
it will still be through the machinery of the Military Board of Allied
Supply which you have created, and which cannot be set in motion with-
out your approval, that part of the supply and transportation business of
the Allied armies, which is inseparably connected with general tactical
movements, will be provided for without interfering with such final au-

3. Largely because of the personality of such men as McAndrew,
Moseley, and Eltinge, with whom I chiefly work, there is between the


draft of the letter I advocated the appointment of the Chief
of Staff as the member of the Board in place of myself ; but

American member of the Military Board of Allied Supply and the Gen-
eral Staff the closest cooperation and understanding. The crisis of the
present situation from the supply and transportation standpoint will prob-
ably be reached within from sixty to ninety days. Properly to meet it the
Military Board of Allied Supply and the General Staff must practically
function as a unit. The authority actually existing in the Military Board
of Allied Supply in connection with matters of coordination, under the
terms of the agreement which you secured from M. Clemenceau, is great
and it is necessary that it should be. Power governing the rear of the three
armies cannot be exercised by the staff of a separate army, nor can the
powers of the Military Board of Allied Supply be set in motion in the way
that you intended, unless its decisions, approved directly by you and based
upon a common viewpoint (impossible to be obtained by a staff not repre-
sented on the Board), are accepted by each army as automatically and in
as unquestioned a manner as a direct order from a Commander-in-Chief
himself. Conflicts having their roots in human nature, which are inevi-
table between two bodies with concurrent jurisdictions, one acting under
one authority and one under another, must be avoided. A very sure pre-
vention for this between the General Staff and the Military Board of
Allied Supply is to have the supreme authority of the unit, to wit, yourself
or the General Staff, represented authoritatively on any outside board
which is created to coordinate and regulate the unit. It is a tribute to
your great Staff that as yet the Military Board of Allied Supply has ex-
perienced from it only the closest cooperation and understanding. If this
does not continue it will arise out of the fact alone that there cannot be
between the General Staff and myself as the present member of the Board
continuous juxtaposition and common knowledge of all the elements of a
problem. The first viewpoint of the Staff is properly the necessities of the
A.E.F. irrespective of necessities directly counter of the three armies con-
sidered as one. With the General Staff in possession of the complete knowl-
edge in detail, derived from the composite pictures of the necessities of
the three armies presented by the Military Board of Allied Supply, a more
proper military coordination and cooperation will be reached. As you
yourself have indicated, the A.E.F. may be in a position under certain cir-
cumstances and at certain times where it must subordinate and subrogate
its temporary needs for the common good in order to make sure in the
long run its own existence through final victory. The General Staff cannot
be the judges of what is in the long run for the interest of the A.E.F. until
it is put in a position by knowledge of the facts relating to the three armies
as to what is essential and what is not essential for the A.E.F. to do as a
unit in its own best interest. I therefore suggest that you personally ap-
point as a member of the Military Board of Allied Supply, either in my
place or as an additional member, either the Chief of Staff, General Mose-
ley, or Colonel Eltinge. I am of the opinion that to have the American and
French rears properly coordinated, an authority to match Colonel Payot's,


upon telling Payot of my intention that evening at Coubert
after the meeting of the Board, he so strenuously objected to
my leaving the Board that I had to promise him I would not
do so of my own volition. He stated that it was through my
relation to the Board that he could secure the cooperation of
the departments of the French rear under civil control, which
they would not accord to him as a member of the Board un-
less associated with myself who have conducted in the past a
large part of the negotiations of the A.E.F. with the French
civil government; and gave other reasons, among them
strange to say was his idea of my influence with the Eng-
lish. He stated if I left the Board he would immediately ask to
be relieved and that the Board would no longer exist; that
the Board was regarded as my creation and my separation
from it would destroy its prestige with the French and Eng-
lish. I don't think any one was ever more surprised than I was
to hear this from Payot.

So on going to Paris next day I altered my letter to a rec-
ommendation that a member of the General Staff be made an
additional member with me. To-day I gave the letter to
General Pershing. This afternoon he will see Foch if possible

who is in command of the French rear in the Zone of the Advance, should
exist in the representation of the A.E.F. upon this Board. The gentlemen
named have had experience arising not only out of military service, but
continued contact with the technical rear of our army, neither of which
I have had. They also have the bird's-eye view of the operations of the
rear of the A.E.F. which is as essential to a proper understanding of its
necessities as is the knowledge arising only out of a membership on the
Military Board of Allied Supply of the necessities of the rear of the Allied
armies considered as one. An order of the Military Board of Allied Sup-
ply thus constituted would produce a mental status quo on the part of
the chiefs of the American services much more conducive to prompt
and efficient action than would otherwise be the case. If the Military
Board of Allied Supply was known by the army to be expressing the
conviction of the Commander-in-Chief personally, which of course is
always the case, since its every action is first submitted to you, attention
would be given primarily by the chiefs of the services to carrying out its
mandates with less discussion of their wisdom, which tends to delay.


Colonel, Engineers


on his way to Chaumont, and among other things take up
with him this letter and the subject of strengthening the
authority and machinery of our Board. The Commander-in-
Chief (John) realizes what the Board means just as I do who
am a member of it. It is fortunate that this is so, for if he did
not I should despair of the proper settlement of many of the
supply crises of the future. Experience has taught me that in
the last pinch, whenever they cannot be present to attend to a
supply crisis themselves, both John and Harbord turn to me,
and practically to me alone, either to conduct or to supervise
the conduct of the negotiations with the French and English.
The more acute the crisis the surer they are to do it. Yester-
day and to-day are examples on the hay and potato situation
at Is-sur-Tille involving the army policy. Upon my negotia-
tions with the French to-morrow must rest the final decision
of the hay question including the question of American impor-
tation. The crisis is acute. There is no hay at Is-sur-Tille
there the telephone rang and my office tells me Payot has
telephoned me he is coming to Paris to see me to-morrow. I
had appealed to him for help for our army by wire.

The question of the establishment of a proper fiscal system
for the army is receiving our best attention. I have recom-
mended that this matter be made independent of me ; but as
is usually the case the difficulty is to convince others (i.e.,
the C.-in-C.) that it should not be under my jurisdiction.

I never saw General Pershing looking or feeling better.
He is sleeping well. He is tremendously active. He will soon
strike with his field army. I know he will succeed. He is not
letting anything get on his mind to absorb it from the all-
important question of how to get a military victory. He tells
me how much confidence he feels in Harbord and myself, and
that he sleeps well at night because we are in the S.O.S. ; and
that this is why he does not worry over problems which it is for
the S.O.S. to solve, to an extent to divert his mind from the
plan of his approaching fight. All of which only shows that
John realizes the best way of getting all the best that is in us


enlisted in the work. He is a very great man and a very
dear friend.

Paris, August 28, 1918

WAS interested yesterday when Bacon (liaison officer at
British Headquarters) telephoned saying that, as General
Travers-Clarke, in command of the British rear, could not
come to Paris on account of the battle going on, he wanted me
to come to British Headquarters to talk over the demand of
Foch that Payot be put in charge of the rear of the three
armies. As it was impossible for me to go, I sent copy of my
letter to General Pershing, dated August 25, for Bacon to read
to General Travers-Clarke, and told Bacon to tell him that
Pershing had notified Foch that he could not accede to the
suggestion because the organization of the American field
army made necessary final control of its line of communica-
tions in its commander. However, I pointed out that Pershing
and Foch would use the Military Board, of which Payot is a
member, to get the necessary central military control over
the Allied rear without interfering with the right of the unit
to the essential measures to self-preservation. If military
experience had not shown that the men fight better with their
own armies kept separate than when commingled by regi-
ments or battalions, or even divisions, the complete military
unification of the rear for which I contended so strenuously
in the past would now be conceded, in my judgment.

Shall be interested to see if the British will not now cause
their command of the rear to be directly, instead of indirectly,
represented on our Board, as I have always urged. Every-
thing tends to increase the power and usefulness of our Board,
and my part in its conception and formation is my chief
satisfaction in my military service.

Received letter from Pershing saying he had discussed
matter with Foch and explained some of the difficulties of the
situation of which Foch had not been informed.

In his endeavor to assist in the hay crisis at Is-sur-Tille,



Payot came to Paris to see me. He responds to my every
suggestion for assistance to our army to the very best of his
ability. By our extremely close cooperation and under-
standing we are much relieving the common situation in a
time of common crisis. He tells me that he will meet me prior
to every meeting of the Military Board of Allied Supply or
whenever called for. Payot has many enemies, for with his
great force he lacks patience in his dealings with the civil
departments and ministers of the French Government in
contact with him. He told me the other day that he was very
tired and very much overworked, as is natural with our lines
of battle advancing. " I am working sixteen hours a day," he
said; "four hours fighting the Germans and twelve hours
fighting my own people."

My Saturday with General Harbord and my Sunday (last)
with General Pershing enabled me to get settled several im-
portant policies and my mind is much more quiet, though
my work was never greater.

I certainly resent the attitude of some of our chiefs of serv-
ices who try to excuse their own shortcomings by blaming
the French whenever there is a shortage of supply. I wish
I could let these officers of the French civil government and
army so nobly working to help us this people almost
bleeding to death and still giving giving giving
know of how strongly, and to their faces, do I resent this
attitude on the part of very few of our officers. In this strong
feeling of overwhelming obligation to the French, I find our
splendid Commander-in-Chief as decided as I am, and as
stern in his attitude toward their critics who cannot know
the difficulties under which they labor as do the General and
myself who are more closely in contact with them.

Paris, August 29, 1918

YESTERDAY afternoon General Travers Clarke, through
Bacon from British Headquarters, telephoned he would come
to Paris to see me Sunday and go to the Board meeting with


me Monday. He wanted to know what the A.E.F. had done
in connection with Foch's request that Payot be placed over
the Allied rear. 1 I told him that General Pershing in declining
acquiescence urged the greater use of our Board in military
coordination of the rear as the only effective agency possible
at present, and had seen Foch in this connection.

Foch yesterday ordered the French army to give us the
horses we need. Thus as time proceeds the truth is apparent
of my constant contention that military necessity will prop-
erly apportion insufficient supplies as we enter the critical
period of the war. Am glad to note greater interest in the
Military Board of our hesitant friends the English.'

Paris, Monday
September 2, 1918, 10.30 P.M.

I AM just arrived from Coubert from a meeting of the Military
Board of Allied Supply this afternoon which was important
and interesting. General Travers-Clarke accompanied me to
Coubert; also my old friend Samuel McRoberts (who has
just been made a Brigadier-General for his fine work in the
Ordnance Department) and Colonel Smither and Colonel
Harry Nut whom I knew as a boy in Lincoln. While the
meeting was in progress General Pershing and General
Petain arrived, and both thanked the Committee for its
work. 2

1 See Report of Daily Activities, Sept. I. Appendix C, vol. n, p. 165.
J Memorandum

In the course of the sitting of the Military Inter-Allied Committee at
Coubert, on September 2, 1918, General Petain and General Pershing
made the following statements:

General Petain said he wished to express his appreciation of the excellent
work the Committee had been doing toward the pooling of all the resources
of the Allies in motor transportation. He observed that the Allies had
been led to the conclusion that such a pooling was necessary by the ex-
perience in the French armies since the beginning of the War. In the first
part of the war, he stated, every division, army corps, army commander
in the French army wanted to have his own motor transportation. The
result was a tremendous waste of trucks. Units at rest retained material


The subject of the mobile automobile reserve being under
discussion both Pershing and Petain emphasized its impor-
tance as well as that of the treatment by rules, etc., of the
motor transport system from the standpoint of the inter-
Allied armies. The new rules are nearly completed for adop-
tion by the armies. The completeness and thoroughness with
which they have been prepared by our joint sub-committee,

which was much in excess of their requirements while units engaged in
active operations were short of transportation. The total amount of

Online LibraryCharles Gates DawesA journal of the great war (Volume 1) → online text (page 14 of 30)