Copyright
Charles Gates Dawes.

A journal of the great war (Volume 1) online

. (page 25 of 30)
Online LibraryCharles Gates DawesA journal of the great war (Volume 1) → online text (page 25 of 30)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


military authority as are the members of the General Pur-
chasing Board by the General Purchasing Agent. As in the
case of the purchasing board of the A.E.F., this does not
mean the radical interference with the conduct of current
activities. It does not even mean the lessening of current
activities. It means their proper coordination and intelligent
direction, and above all it means that when once a necessity
is determined, the authority is in existence to compel its
immediate relief. The influence of such unified military
command of the service of the rear of the Allies upon the
question of tonnage, use of material, economy of construc-
tion, and general betterment of conditions, must be self-
evident. To go with unified military action at the front
must come unified military support at the rear. You are the
only man that can bring this about. If it was anybody else
than you, even under the tremendous pressure of the present
emergency, I should hesitate to suggest it; for human nature
is weak. Nothing but the weakness and ambition of human
nature prevented the unification of military command
which you have always advocated until the death of hun-
dreds of thousands and continued military failure brought
individual and national ambition under the yoke of a com-
mon necessity involving existence itself.

General Harbord took dinner with me last night and spent
the evening and I presented these views to him. He did not



C8o JOURNAL OF THE GREAT WAR

express himself, but I judge from his demeanor that he was
not entirely unimpressed. I understand from Harbord that
you may be here within the next few days. I had intended
to come to Chaumont to present verbally what I am writing
here. There is probably nothing in this letter which has not
already been considered by you. However, now that unifica-
tion of military command at the front has been secured, I
am sure that the application of your General Purchasing
Board idea to the service of the rear of the Allies is that
which will go farther just now in bringing a successful con-
clusion to this war than any other thing.

Yours

CHARLES G. DA WES

Colonel, Engineers, N. A.

On April 19, 1918, in connection with this subject, you ad-
dressed a letter to M. Clemenceau, President of the Council,
Republic of France, and on the same date cabled the Adjutant-
General at Washington. Copies of this letter and cable, to-
gether with the answer of the Chief of Staff at Washington,
follow :

France, April 19, 1918
The President du Conseil

Republique Franchise
DEAR MR. CLEMENCEAU:

Referring to our conversation of yesterday, permit me to
confirm my suggestion that all supplies and war materials
that are used in common by the Allied armies be pooled and
that the principle be extended as far as possible to the civil
populations of the Allies in Europe.

After many disappointments in Allied endeavors to secure
coordination in the operation of the Allied armies, we have
finally come to recognize the absolute necessity for the ap-
pointment of a Commander-in-Chief of the Allied armies,
with full power to give all necessary directions for unity ot
command.

The defects of present methods of handling supplies have
long been recognized in similar manner, but each of the Allied
armies continues to think only in terms of its own require-
ments independently of the other armies. While it is fully
realized that there are many classes of supplies that are used




MAJOR-GENERAL HARBORD. COMMANDING GENERAL SERVICE
OF SUPPLY, WITH THE GENERAL PURCHASING AGENT



A: REPORT TO COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF 281

by all the Allies which could be pooled and issued to a par-
ticular army as required, a practical solution to the problem
has not yet been reached.

I consider this subject of vital importance. The next three
or four months are going to be difficult and combatant units
from the United States should have every possible ton of
shipping that can be saved by utilizing available Allied sup-
plies and materials. The A.E.F. has recently reduced or
postponed its requirements in tonnage to the lowest limit to
save sea transportation, and a study of the subject leads to
the conclusion that our allies could also do much more than
is now being done.

While some attempt has been made through coordinating
Allied committees, including the Supreme War Council,
these bodies are only advisory and hitherto each has con-
sidered only one subject. A bird's-eye view of the whole
problem of supply is lacking, and the authority to order the
allotment and distribution of supplies to the different armies
does not exist. This authority should be vested in a military
chief.

The classes of supplies and material that are common to
all armies are many, but too much detail should not be under-
taken. The subject should be viewed broadly. The following
classes of supplies, naturally, would be included: aviation
materials, munitions as far as practicable, horses, oats, hay,
meat, flour, coal, gasoline, wagons, harness, motor transport,
depots, warehouses, lumber, and timber. Such concentration
or control of supplies would probably result in economy of
port construction, especially in storage facilities.

To meet the situation in question, I propose the designa-
tion of one military chief occupying a position as to supplies
and materials similar to that of General Foch as to military
operations, who shall have authority to decide just what
supplies and materials shall be brought to France by the
Allies and determine their disposition.

May I urge that this matter be given early attention?
Permit me to suggest that Colonel Dawes, Purchasing Agent
of the A.E.F., be called into consultation with such officers
of the French army as you may designate to discuss this
important subject.

I remain, with high personal and official esteem,
Your obedient servant

JOHN J. PERSHING



282 JOURNAL OF THE GREAT WAR

Cablegram

April 19, 1918
ADJ UTANT-GENERAL

Washington, D.C.

Paragraph i. For the Chief of Staff. No. 953.
The matter of tonnage is so vital to success of Allies that
every possible ton is being cut from our requirements during
the next three or four months as already indicated by re-
ductions reported. A careful study of Allied demands for
tonnage as a whole makes it evident that further reduction
can be made if we pool all supplies that are in common use
by Allied armies and certain reductions could also be made
in supplies for civil populations of Allied countries. We have
at last combined military forces under the supreme command
of one man and should do the same thing as to supplies
and war material. The appointment of many coordinating
boards has led to confusion and loss of positive action.
Strongly urge that supply question be placed in the hands of
one military head with power to determine and decide on
disposition and distribution of Allied supplies in Europe and
determine what shall be shipped from United States. Much
information necessary for prompt action is already available,
but no one has power to decide. Supreme War Council
comes in the same class with other boards in its lack of
power. One man in military control of Allied supplies is
necessary. Principle involved is foundation of A.E.F.
Purchasing Board. The next three or four months should
at least be covered by this arrangement. The class of supplies
such as: aviation (which has been taken up in my cable
No. 904) ; munitions (as far as possible considering different
calibers); coal, horses, gasoline, oats, hay, meat, flour, shoes,
sugar, wagons, tentage, demountable barracks, lumber,
timber, supply depots, and warehouses are the principal
items that could be pooled. Such pooling would affect ma-
terial saving in our construction programme including rail-
road construction. Have presented this suggestion to Mr.
Clemenceau, who approves. Shall go to London Sunday to
adjust questions relative to handling our troops that go to
British. While there shall submit pooling plan to Mr. Lloyd
George. Have designated Colonel Dawes, who made this
study, to confer with French representatives to be named by
Mr. Clemenceau. Shall report progress later.

PERSHING



A: REPORT TO COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF 283

Cablegram

May 3, 1918
No. I23I-R
PERSHING, Amexforce

Paragraph 4. With reference to paragraph I your 953. The
plan of pooling supplies for all Allied forces, operating under
the supreme command of one military commander, is un-
doubtedly correct in principle, but such plan involves certain
military, political, and economic features which will require
careful consideration and considerable negotiations. The
working details of such plans are not at once apparent, but
can be worked out after all phases of the methods of oper-
ation, proposed by you, are fully presented. The project
will be given careful study, awaiting more details from you,
after your consultation with Allied representatives, referred
to in your cablegram.

MARCH

In your further consideration of this subject you again
wrote M. Clemenceau, under date of May 3, 1918, as follows:

France, May 3, 1918

MONSIEUR LE PRESIDENT DU CONSEIL

Paris

MY DEAR MR. PRESIDENT:

Referring again to my note on the subject of pooling sup-
plies, I wish to say that, after further thought and a full
discussion of the tonnage situation with the Shipping Board,
it would appear advisable to suggest the consideration of the
important subject of control of allotment of tonnage space
in connection with the pooling of supplies by the committee
of military men that you were kind enough to propose.

I had hoped to have an opportunity to mention it to you
in person at Abbeville, but the pressure of other business
prevented. I shall, therefore, convey to you in the following
paragraphs what I wrote to Mr. Lloyd George on the subject.

As you are no doubt aware, a very careful study shows
that for the year 1918 there will be a deficit of 2,000,000 tons
dead-weight tonnage unless some of the programmes can be
reduced. Obviously the military programme on the Western



284 JOURNAL OF THE GREAT WAR

Front must be given first consideration and cannot be re-
duced. Actually it will be increased as American participa-
tion increases.

It would seem possible as recommended in substance by
the Inter-Allied Maritime Council :

(1) That the use of merchant tonnage by Allied navies
might be materially reduced by joint reconsideration
of naval programmes;

(2) That considerable tonnage might be saved by sus-
pending or reducing military activities in theaters of
war other than the Western Front ;

(3) That further reductions in civilian imports carefully
considered by Inter-Allied criticism can release ad-
ditional tonnage.

It would appear desirable that these two subjects pool-
ing supplies and control of shipments should be under
military direction and that one executive head be given
charge of both. It is believed that a very great increase in
efficiency will result from such centralized executive man-
agement.

I would therefore suggest that the officer whom you select
as the French representative on Supplies be also instructed
to discuss the question of control of shipments.

With renewed expression of esteem and respect, I remain,
Yours faithfully

JOHN J. PERSHING

And to myself, on May 5, 1918, you addressed the following
letter:

GENERAL HEADQUARTERS
AMERICAN EXPEDITIONARY FORCES

May 5, 1918
COLONEL CHARLES G. DA WES

General Purchasing Agent, A.E.F.

Paris

DEAR COLONEL DAWES:

With reference to our conversation as to the scope of author-
ity that should be given the executive control of Allied army
supplies and overseas shipments under the pooling arrange-
ments contemplated, I am of the opinion that, generally
speaking, authority should be absolute. However, in its
exercise, I do not conceive that there would ever be conflict



A: REPORT TO COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF 285

of authority, inasmuch as no radical decision would be likely
without the approval of all parties.

So that the real basis of the executive committee's acts is
coordination and cooperation founded upon mutual con-
fidence among the controlling Allies themselves, and upon
the judgment of the committee they have selected. In
principle it should bear the same relation to Allied supplies
that the Purchasing Board of the A.E.F. bears to the various
supply departments in our own army.

I am firm in my view that the members of this executive
control should be military men of as broad business expe-
rience as possible, and hope the preliminary conference for
the discussion of plans and organization of this committee
may take the same view.

As to the duties, there are three main features which have
been clearly outlined in our discussions and which fall
naturally within the scope of the controlling agency we hope
to create :

(1) The pooling and allocation of all bulky supplies that
are used in common by all Allied armies.

(2) The groupment and allocation of military labor and
transportation facilities, including motor and field
transport.

(3) The control of overseas shipments of all Allied mili-
tary supplies and material.

The idea set out in paragraph 3 should be definitely sepa-
rated from control of shipping by the Allied Shipping Boards,
whose authority extends to the allocation of shipping itself,
as distinguished from the direction necessary to control
shipments of particular classes of supplies and material.

The foregoing is a mere outline, the details of this im-
portant work being left to you and those selected to work
with you. Sincerely yours

JOHN J. PERSHING

M. Clemenceau having appointed M. Loucheur, the French
Minister of Armament, to confer with me relative to the
formation of a plan for presentation to yourself and M.
Clemenceau, conference was had between us on May 2, 1918.
The following is a statement of its results as drafted in agree-
ment by M. Loucheur and myself, which was afterward read
at the Inter-Allied Conference:



286 JOURNAL OF THE GREAT WAR

Conference of May 2, 1918, between M. Loucheur, Minister of
Armament, and Colonel Charles G. Dawes

Colonel Dawes presented to M. Loucheur General Per-
shing's ideas concerning a unified command of the Service of
Supplies. General Pershing feels that it is not sufficient to
pool the resources, but that there must be one man in a
position to have a bird's-eye view of and power over the en-
tire supplies for all the armies. This man should, General
Pershing believes, have absolute military power amounting
to a dictatorship, and should be a Frenchman. He does not
wish the final decision to rest with a committee, but with
this one man.

M. Loucheur replied that he had been appointed by
M. Clemenceau to study the matter and present a plant
M. Clemenceau's idea is to appoint an American to direct
the new organization. M. Loucheur considered that, with
the mingling of troops on different parts of the front, the
present method of separate supplies for each ally is a mis-
take. He cited the case of the difference in oat ration be-
tween English and French horses. Some materials, such, for
example, as uniforms, would have to be different, but other
materials, such as food, munitions, gasoline, etc., can be
handled in common.

The following agreement was reached, subject to the
approval of M. Clemenceau on the one hand and of General
Pershing on the other hand:

(a) The Americans and French will unite their resources,
including warehouse space, materials, etc., and the
distribution and transportation of these resources.
The French will write to the British stating that the
Americans and French have discussed a plan of unified
control for Services of Supplies and that they invite the
British to join.

(b) One man, a Frenchman, will be placed in charge. The
Americans and French will each appoint a staff
composed of officers representing the various lines of
activity in the Service of Supplies. It will be the duty
of these two staffs to carry out the orders of the newly
appointed Commander-in-Chief of Supplies.

As a result of all the above correspondence and personal
conferences held in connection therewith, the Inter-Allied



A: REPORT TO COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF 287

Conference of May 6, 1918, met at Paris to consider the unifi-
cation of the Service of Supplies of the Allied armies. The
French Government was represented by M. Jeanneney, M. le
Controleur-General de Lavit, M. Ganne (Director of Central
Office of Franco- American Relations), and Colonel Payot
(Chef de la Direction de 1'Arriere au G.Q.G. Frangais) ; the
British Government by Lieutenant-General Sir John Cowans
(Quartermaster-General), Mr. Andrew Weir (Surveyor-
General of Supplies), Mr. James J. Currie, Major-General
A. S. Croften-Atkins (Director of Supplies and Transport),
and Brigadier-General F. G. T. Cannot ; the Italian Govern-
ment by General Merrone; and the American Government
and the Commander-in-Chief, American E.F., by myself
under your nomination.

At this conference the American initiative to secure coor-
dination of Allied supply and the activities of the rear of the
Allied armies under a central military control met, from the
majority of the heads of Allied civil and military authority,
with immediate acceptance as a principle, but desperate
opposition in detail. The attitude taken by you, as Com-
mander-in-Chief of the A.E.F., that you would relinquish the
military control of the rear of your own army to secure this
coordination, was not reflected in a similar attitude on the
part of the English. It immediately became evident to me as
your representative at this conference that, everything con-
sidered, coordination of the civil agencies of Allied supply
through a central military control, however imperative, was
impossible. The only possible coordination of civil authority
in supply procurement and transportation as up to the
time of the military unification at the front had been the
case with military movement and strategy was that which
could be effected by common understanding of necessities
through discussion without the loss of any authority on the
part of any of the negotiating agencies.

At the conference of May 6, 1918, it was agreed that each
ally should prepare a reply to the three following questions:



288 JOURNAL OF THE GREAT WAR

(1) Are General Pershing's propositions filed herewith
accepted by the other governments?

(2) How can the unity of the distribution and trans-
portation of all supplies to the different Allied armies
in France be realized?

(3) How can unity in the collection of the resources of all
the different Allied countries be realized?

This gave me an opportunity of submitting a written argu-
ment upon the entire situation in which I endeavored to focus
the discussion upon matters affecting the immediate military
rear of the armies, over which the authority to create a cen-
tral control existed in the conference by the delegation of
existing military authority alone as distinguished from civil
authority. This letter was addressed to M. Jeanneney, the
Chairman, and was written immediately after the conference.
In it I advocated that the first step taken be the transfer of
the control of the rear of the Allied armies to a board consisting
of one member from each army, whose unanimous agreement
as to the necessity of a coordinating order should be the basis
for its issuance to the Allied armies in France. By this ar-
rangement a military authority over the rear of the three
armies could be established by unanimous agreement, the
power of veto upon any measures suggested for the common
benefit existing in the representation of each army. This
letter, which was revised by yourself and received the general
consideration of the members of the conference before the
holding of the next meeting, is given herewith :

Paris, May 8, 1918

To M. Jeanneney, President Inter- Allied Conference of
May 6, 1918 (called to consider General Pershing's
proposition and plan for military unification of the
Allied Services of Supply).

Relative to the three questions the conference proposed at
its first meeting and in accordance with your suggestion that
comments be filed thereon, I submit the following:

General Pershing's plan, in so far as it involves the co-
ordination of military supply, transportation, and construe-



A: REPORT TO COMMANDER-IN-CHIEF 289

tion now located in the immediate Allied rear, is susceptible
of adoption by the military commands as distinguished from
the civil as a strictly military measure of coordination in-
volving activities now wholly under military control, but as
yet not coordinated between the three armies. To this extent
the plan may be considered as presented by the Commander-
in-Chief, A.E.F., as a measure of military action affecting the
immediate rear and therefore as only necessary in this par-
ticular phase to be discussed in its relation to the several
existing military as distinguished from civil authorities.

The plan, in its more general application, involving the
coordination of activities now under civil control, must be
first approved by the Government of the United States as
well as by England and France. But since the first conference
on this subject of prime importance has developed some
hesitation as to their authority on the part of members of
the conference, I deem it my duty as General Pershing's rep-
resentative at this conference to place on file the following
statement as applying simply to the coordination of the im-
mediate activities of the Allied rear now possible under his
plan if approved by the existing military authorities alone.

Before my submission to the conference of General Per-
shing's plan looking to the military unification of the services
of the Allied rear to match the military unification at the
front, he had obtained the verbal acceptance of the principle
by M. Clemenceau and Mr. Lloyd George. The duty of this
conference, therefore, was to devise a plan, not to suggest
obstacles to its consummation to which most of its time
was devoted at the first meeting. The letter of General
Pershing, addressed to myself and submitted to the confer-
ence, considered together with the detailed statement of his
plan, indicated that his desire is such to secure military
unification of the Services of Supply of the Allied rear, that
while he would prefer final authority to be located in one
man he would acquiesce in an agreement by which the mil-
itary authority of the proposed committee could be set in
motion only by the unanimous consent of its three members.
This suggestion should of itself sweep away the objections
1 aised at this conference to this procedure. General Per-
shing's contention is that if British and American lives can
be trusted to French control, so can British and American
material. This military central control of supply service is
as essential to maximum effectiveness of effort against the



290 JOURNAL OF THE GREAT WAR

enemy as unified military control of the front. The recent
reverses during the first days of the last offensive were
sufficient to sweep away the arguments against Allied mili-
tary unification suggested by national pride and prestige for
the last four years. With the difficult months ahead of us,
and the urgency of unity of action and mutual cooperation,
minor considerations should not now be raised against a
plan involving a principle so indisputably correct that it is
immediately adopted upon presentation by those first in
authority and committed to us to work out and not to
combat.

Given a military control committee of three, one each
representing the British, French, and American armies, with
authority through military channels to collect full informa-
tion and then with power to put into effect by military order
a unanimous decision improving the coordination of the
rear, what harm would result? If it did nothing else this
military committee would be a clearing-house of informa-
tion, thus facilitating the now clumsy efforts born of over-
whelming necessity, to coordinate the activities of the Allied
rear. Each Government retaining its control over its member
could, through his veto power, save from any possible alter-
ation its entire system of intermingled civil and military
control so jealously exploited in the discussions of this con-
ference. So vast are the possible accomplishments of good
from the military unification of the Allied Services of Supply,
under one man or military committee, extending throughout
England, France, Italy, and the United States, properly to be



Online LibraryCharles Gates DawesA journal of the great war (Volume 1) → online text (page 25 of 30)