Charles Gates Dawes.

A journal of the great war (Volume 1) online

. (page 26 of 30)
Online LibraryCharles Gates DawesA journal of the great war (Volume 1) → online text (page 26 of 30)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

regarded as the '' rear" in this effort, that we are instinctively
prone to dwell constantly on the impossibility of obtaining
it, overlooking the possibilities of obtaining most important
advantages in the immediate rear of the armies without
necessarily cutting any governmental system of internal red
tape and using only existing military authority.

As charged by General Pershing with the duty of making
recommendations to him looking toward the coordination
with our allies of the army activities of the American rear,
if this military committee is formed, and even if contrary to
his advice its military authority could not be set in motion
except by unanimous consent, I would ask and expect from
it unanimous action resulting in the transmission of the
necessary orders as follows :

(i) Ordering information from the departments concerned


of the three armies as to the status of the present ware-
house capacity of the three armies in France, and if it
is found sufficient to provide for the present and future
requirements of the Allied armies considered as one,
an order to the American army not to waste tonnage,
material, work, and men in building new warehouses
where sufficient empty warehouse space exists.

(2) Ordering information from the concerned departments
of the three armies as to the total present unloading
capacity of the docks of France (including transporta-
tion from the docks to the front of the unified Allied
army) and the amount of material now being trans-
ported to the front from these docks so that it may be
intelligently determined whether the American army
is building unnecessary docks and thus diverting ma-
terial, work, and men from more important service.

(3) Information ordered from the three concerned depart-
ments of the total amount of civilian and militarized
labor now at the disposal of the three armies, so that if
it were ascertained that the present supply, if used in
proper coordination is sufficient, orders be issued for its
proper use and for the A.E.F. to cease the continued
importation of civilian labor from adjoining countries,
thus putting a further tax upon the local resources of

(4) Ordering information from the concerned departments
of the three armies as to the present status of motor
transports in France and upon the development of the
situation the issuance of immediate orders preventing
any one army from consuming shipping space by
bringing camions to France when sufficient are avail-
able or can be manufactured here for the unified army
at the front.

(5) Information with appropriate orders as to whether
central distributing depots for the joint use of the
three armies do not now exist to that extent which will
render possible an intelligent reduction of American
construction projects in this connection.

(6) Information with appropriate orders as to the collec-
tive situation of freight cars and locomotives, the use
to which they are being put at present, whether eco-
nomical to that effect as would render it impossible for
us to cut down requisitions of this nature from America.


(7) Obtaining information regarding normal supplies
common to the three armies with a view to their
equitable distribution as needed, in order to prevent
unnecessary use of tonnage, to accumulate unusual
quantities during the present crisis in shipping.

(8) And many more subjects of importance the above
being only a few important illustrations.

That the members of this conference, instead of devoting
themselves to a discussion of the methods necessary to carry
out a plan accepted in principle by the Prime Ministers of
England and France and proposed by the Commander- in-
Chief, A.E.F., confined themselves chiefly to the suggestion
of the obvious difficulties in the way of a complete interna-
tional application of the idea, resulted in this first conference
in a comparative lack of discussion of certain practicable
steps of greatest importance related to the immediate rear of
the armies. General Pershing has made this proposition in
no spirit of distrust. It must be realized, however, that if as
suggested at this conference the partial pooling of supplies
and resources now going on under the pressure of necessity
is continued through subordinate or separate controls as
distinguished from a military central control, an insuperable
obstacle is raised to a fair and complete solution of the prob-
lem. This insuperable obstacle to complete perception of
the necessities of a common situation and the application of
the necessary remedies in connection with it lies in the
fidelity of the subordinate in charge of a particular supply
to the unit which he supplies. The conception of such a sub-
ordinate of a common necessity is determined primarily by
its effect upon the need with whose satisfaction he is charged
as a matter of military duty.

While the disposition seems to exist to combat the logical
extension of the idea of authority in this time of emergency
and war to a military dictatorship of the entire Allied Service
of Supply, as suggested by General Pershing, it is well to
point out that if that idea was accepted by the three Govern-
ments the central authority being charged with the re-
sponsibility for the whole would conceive and carry out these
responsibilities in terms of the whole and not in terms of
three separate armies. Is it possible that France, England,
and the United States will trust under French command their
men and hesitate at trusting their material? This question
must not be discussed except upon the assumption that if the


central control is established, it will be impartially admin-
istered. Objections to it must be upon the ground alone of
the impossibility of creating the machinery.

If I have wrongly interpreted the conservatism in this
conference, it is not because of any lack of appreciation of the
spirit of cooperation, as evidenced by the treatment which
the Americans have received from Services of Supply in
France. Generosity and quick response to our suggestion of
any necessity have ever marked the attitude of our allies.
All freely bring to the common cause the limit of resources
in wealth and precious lives. The people from the highest to
the lowest are one in complete self-sacrifice. The question,
therefore, is only one of natural steadfastness and conserva-
tism. But this conservatism and steadfastness should not
now be allowed to interfere with the consummation of the
common victory. General Pershing has placed his authority
over his Military Service of Supply at the disposal of the
Allies for its proper coordination and to insure the maximum
effort against the enemy. This action on his part is the high-
est expression of his confidence in the justice and fairness of
our allies and is the best indication of his belief that the plan
which he has proposed, notwithstanding all the arguments
raised at this conference against it, is possible of accomplish-
ment if it is met in a similar spirit.

In conclusion, let me say that the matters to which I am
calling specific attention, and which demand coordination,
are matters affecting the immediate military rear of the
armies. The authority to create the military central control,
absolutely necessary to deal with them effectively, exists or
can be made to exist in this conference by the delegation of
existing military authority alone.

As military men we have no right to screen our responsi-
bilities for a bad situation as regards coordination in the
immediate rear of the armies by raising smoke about civil
interference and extending unduly the scope of the discussion
of a comprehensive and unquestioned principle. It is our
fault and our fault alone if we do not correct the situation.
Civil governments have delegated us both duty and a full
authority with which to accomplish it. Concessions -tof in-
dependent military authority must be made to a central
control. The American Commander-in-Chief in his plan
places his at the disposal of the Allies. The present lack of
military coordination of the Allied Services of Supply of the


immediate rear of the armies prevents the maximum use of
our military resources against a thoroughly consolidated
enemy. If as military men we fail to correct this we are re-
sponsible in blood and lives and possibly defeat and we

Colonel, Engineers, N.A.

At the second Inter-Allied Conference which was held May
14, 1918, at Paris, and presided over by M. Clemenceau, the
representatives of the British Government did not appear, but
filed objections to the plan, suggesting that the Supreme War
Council at Versailles, a purely advisory body, could be used to
accomplish its purposes. At this second conference M. Cle-
menceau presented a plan in behalf of the French embody-
ing the principles suggested in my letter, which, in response
to a question by him, I accepted for the American E.F. under
your authority.

Plan adopted in Conference by French and Americans

1. An Inter- Allied Board of three members will revise the
organizations of supply and evacuation actually estab-
lished in view of meeting the requirements of each of
the Allied armies.

2. It brings to notice all means of unifying, coordinating,
and increasing the efficiency of the above organizations.
It is also qualified to point out the supplies, either for
civil or military use, in regard to which the existing
quantities of each nation are notoriously below the
minimum requirements and to propose all modifications
of the actual inter-Allied allotments.

3. The decisions unanimously taken by the aforesaid
Board, as a sequel of its studies, have immediate force
of law provided:

(a) they concern clearly defined matters.

(b) each member has previously received from his
Government special power to agree to them.

The reports covering these decisions should be supported
by all documents on which they are based.

4. The Board will have at any time authority to claim
from the Allied armies or Governments all necessary
information. It proceeds on the spot to any comple-
mentary inquiries.


Had the Inter-Allied Conference allowed the situation to
remain at that point, your personal intervention afterward
would not have been necessary to save the plan. The French,
however, added a statement which they proposed for discus-
sion by civil authority involving the extension of the princi-
ples of the plan. Upon my presentation to you of the report of
this conference, you properly decided in view of the attitude
of the English, who had not yet agreed to the principles of the
plan, that the continued discussion of the details of the exten-
sion of its principles over civil authority meant that it was in
a fair way to meet the sad fate so often accorded construc-
tive suggestions in inter-Allied negotiations. You saved the
failure of the effort at this juncture by personally rewriting
the essentials of the plan and adding a provision, "That
further details of the organization by which the above plan
is to be carried out shall be left to the Board, subject to such
approval by the respective Governments as may at any time
seem advisable." This plan you personally took to M. Cle-
menceau, who approved and signed it with you, thus bind-
ing the French Government and the American army. The
effect of this action was not only to bind together the French
Government and the American army in the plan, but to res-
cue it from the certain failure to secure English cooperation
which would have resulted from an attempt to have its de-
tails of operation fixed and its field of activity extended by
an inter-Allied conference. The constitution of the Military
Board of Allied Supply, prepared by yourself and afterward
ratified by the French, English, Belgian, and Italian Govern-
ments, is as follows:

May 22, 1918

It is hereby agreed among the Allied Governments sub-
scribing hereto :

1. That the principle of unification of military supplies
and utilities for the use of the Allied armies is adopted.

2. That in order to apply this principle and as far as
possible coordinate the use of utilities and the distribu-


tion of supplies among the Allied armies, a Board con-
sisting of representatives of each of the Allied armies is
to be constituted at once.

3. That the unanimous decision of the Board regarding
the allotment of material and supplies shall have the
force of orders and be carried out by the respective
supply agencies.

4. That further details of the organization by which the
above plan is to be carried out shall be left to the
Board, subject to such approval by the respective
Governments as may at any time seem advisable.

We agree to the above and wish it to be submitted to the
British and Italian Governments.


You then directed me to go to England and present the
plan to the British Prime Minister and the other English
authorities and to secure if possible their acquiescence in it.
Your letter of May 24, 1918, which I delivered to Mr. Lloyd
George, is as follows:


May 24, 1918

Prime Minister of England, London

With reference to my letter of April 28, 1918, permit me to
enclose copy of the preliminary articles of agreement between
the President du Conseil Rpublique Frangaise and myself,
which we believe set forth the principles upon which unifica-
tion of military supplies and utilities should be based.

I have designated Colonel Charles G. Dawes to represent
the American Government in this matter. If you feel so in-
clined, I should be pleased if you would have a member
designated to represent the British Government.

My idea is that in the beginning only such articles as can
well be supplied by common issue should be covered, and
that the future development of this idea should be left to
circumstances. With great respect, believe me

Faithfully yours



When I presented the plan to the British Prime Minister
he stated that he entirely acquiesced in it and would call a
meeting of the War Council at which the British Quarter-
master-General and other authorities who would be affected by
it would discuss the matter with myself in the presence of the
Council as an aid to their decision. He gave his consent,
however, to a preliminary discussion by me with General Sir
John Cowans, British Quartermaster-General, who, upon
being reassured as to certain points, gave his acquiescence.
In the meantime Mr. Paul D. Cravath had secured the acqui-
escence of the Right Honorable Lord Milner, Secretary of
State for War. These three authorities being in agreement
the call for the meeting of the War Council was canceled and
Lord Milner prepared a letter accepting the plan and embody-
ing the explanation made by me in securing the agreement of
the British Government.

In this connection I desire to call attention to the very
effective aid given by Mr. Paul D. Cravath, Mr. Dwight
Morrow, and Mr. Martin Egan in aiding to secure this agree-
ment. Mr. Cravath had been most active in explaining our
purposes before my arrival in England and I do not believe
the acquiescence of the British Government would have been
secured without his aid and cooperation. The letter from
Lord Milner accepting the plan follows:

War Office, Whitehall, S.W. I

29 May, 1918

Colonel Dawes has handed me the memorandum of May 22,
1918, signed by M. Clemenceau and yourself. We have all
been in hearty accord with your aim to coordinate, so far as
possible, the use of facilities and the distribution of supplies
among the Allied armies in France. Doubts, however, have
been expressed by our Supply Departments as to the extent
to which a unification of supplies and facilities would be
practicable. I am glad to find that our hesitation, based on
these doubts, has been due to a misunderstanding of the pur-
pose and scope of your proposal.


We now understand from your memorandum and Colonel
Dawes's explanations:

1. That your plan is intended to apply only to supplies
and facilities of the armies in France.

2. That the avoidance of duplicate facilities in docks,
warehouses, and railroads, and the proper distribution
of labor supplies, are among the things of immediate
importance. It is not intended that the proposed
Board shall interfere with the ration or with the dis-
tributing machinery of the respective armies, nor, in-
deed, with any other matters relating to their internal

3. That the requirement that the decision of the proposed
Board shall be unanimous has been introduced in order
to leave each army free to determine whether the prin-
ciple of coordination is or is not applicable in any given
case. For instance, your army might have what seemed
like a surplus of foodstuffs on hand, but which was not
a real surplus because of your distance from your base
and the period that might elapse before further supplies
arrive. The same might be true in the case of our army.
The representative of each army on the proposed
Board is therefore left free to exercise his own judgment
in voting on such questions.

4. That the decisions of the Board, when unanimous, are to
be communicated, through proper military channels, to
the chiefs of the appropriate departments of the re-
spective armies, and shall be given effect only through

If I am right in the above interpretation of your views, I
shall be happy to give the proposed system an immediate trial
and to nominate a representative on the Board. I assume
that the Italians and Belgians will also be invited to be rep-
resented on it.

Yours sincerely


Thus, while falling immeasurably short in its possibilities
for improvement of the Allied military condition which was
inherent in our original plan for a central military control of


Allied Supply, there was at last established a Board possessing
certain broad military powers over the rear of the Allied

The military field of authority of this Board was the rear
of the British army in France, the rear of the American army
in France, and the rear of the French army only in the Zone of
the Advance. The French Zone of the Rear, as distinguished
from the French rear in the Zone of the Advance, was under
French governmental civil authority operating upon military
lines. A unanimous agreement of the Board, therefore, could
not affect the French Rear outside the Zone of the Advance
without negotiation with and the concurrence of French civil
authority. The important military results accomplished by
the Board under these great limitations upon its powers, con-
stantly functioning as it did under the eye of jealous and
watchful independent authority on all sides fearful of an in-
vasion of its prerogatives, is a demonstration, not only of its
great utility, but of the incomparably greater results which
could have been obtained from a proper establishment of
central military authority as we first proposed.

The Headquarters of the Board and its Inter-Allied Staff
was established at Coubert, France.

The orders which as Commander-in-Chief you issued to the
American army establishing the relations of the American
Expeditionary Forces to the Board and to myself as the Amer-
ican member are given herewith :


France, June 20, 1918
General Orders
No. ico.

Sec. 3. Par. i. In order to unify, as far as possible, the
supply of the Allied forces, the principle of closer cooperation
in the distribution of supplies in common use among the
armies has been unanimously adopted by the Allied Govern-
ments. For the purpose of putting this principle into oper-


ation, the appointment of a Military Board of Allied Supply,
consisting of one representative of each of the Allied armies,
has been agreed upon. In its capacity as the representative
body of the several supply departments of the respective
armies, this Board is expected to study questions of supply,
and adopt all proper measures for the coordination of Allied
resources and utilities.

Par. 2. The Services of the Board of Allied Supply thus
created will be fully utilized by officers of the various Supply
Departments of the A.E.F., who are enjoined to seek through
this agency the equitable allotment of such supplies, and, in
cooperating with corresponding supply officers of the Allied
armies, to take the most liberal attitude, to the end that
every economy in the management and unification of Allied
supply systems may be accomplished.

Par. 3. Colonel Charles G. Dawes, E.G., N.A., is desig-
nated as the representative of the A.E.F. on the Military
Board of Allied Supply.

By Command of General Pershing:


Chief of Staff

From: Commander-in-Chief.

To: Colonel Charles G. Dawes, A.E.F. Representative,

Military Board of Allied Supply.
Subject: Establishment of staff, etc.

1. As the American member of the Military Board of
Allied Supply, you are authorized to establish a per-
manent staff at the Headquarters of the Board, to
enable you to carry out the instructions contained in
Section III, G.O. 100, c.s., these Headquarters. This
staff will consist of one or more representatives to
be designated by the Commander-in-Chief and by the
Commanding General, S.O.S., and such other personnel
as you may consider necessary.

2. You are authorized to direct such travel by members of
your staff as may be necessary in the performance of
their duties, using this letter as your authority for issu-
ing the necessary orders.

3. Under the provisions of Section III, General Orders
No. 100, c.s., these Headquarters, which authorizes the
Military Board of Allied Supply to make decisions, it


has been directed that such decisions as you make with
reference to supplies be communicated to G.H.Q. for

4. Such information as may be required from time to time
by the Board will be furnished by the Supply Depart-
ments or other agencies of the American E.F., upon
your request.

5. The mail address of the permanent headquarters of the
Board is "Section Franklin, Secteur Postal 141, via
American Post Office 702." The telephone and tele-
graphic address is "Franklin."

By direction:


Deputy Chief of Staff

A general summary of the activities and accomplishments
of the Military Board of Allied Supply, during the period of
its existence from June 28, 1918 (the first meeting), to the
present time is as follows :

1. The first composite picture of the motor transport of the
Allied armies in France was made, conclusions arising
from which were self-evident and materially affected the
policy of the American E.F.

2. It took up the study of the question of motor transport
circulation in the rear of the Allied armies and estab-
lished :

(a) Inter-Allied regulations governing road traffic in
the Zone of Operations.

(b) Inter-Allied regulations governing troop move-
ments by mechanical transport.

(c) Inter-Allied regulations governing the hauling of
material by mechanical transport.

The above were approved by the General in command
of each Allied army as well as by Marshal Foch, the
Commander-in-Chief of the Allied armies.

3. It established an elaborate school at Rozoy for the in-
struction of motor transport officers in connection with
the inter-Allied regulations governing motor transport


in the rear of the Allied armies which it had put into
effect. This school was of great benefit in giving the
American motor transport officers information and
training which they afterwards used in our active
military operations.

4. It studied the question of a mobile automobile reserve
behind the armies for use by the Commander-in-Chief of
the Allied armies, as well as a plan to create a flying
column of ten divisions including their artillery and
means of supplying them in rapid and long movements.
The original plan was to create a potential inter-Allied
motor transport reserve of 24,000 camions. At the date
of the armistice this potential reserve consisted of 1 1 ,000

5. By its order the ammunition at the front was pooled

Online LibraryCharles Gates DawesA journal of the great war (Volume 1) → online text (page 26 of 30)