Tasker H. Bliss to Newton D. Baker

Identifier

WWP25076

Description

Report from the Supreme War Council on conditions on the frontlines.

Source

Library of Congress, Woodrow Wilson Papers

Publisher

Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library & Museum

Contributor

Language

English

Provenance

Document scan was taken from Library of Congress microfilm reel of the Wilson Papers. WWPL volunteers transcribed the text.

Text

SUPREME WAR COUNCIL,
AMERICAN SECTION,
VERSAILLES.

No. 15.

My dear Mr. Secretary:

I returned late last night from a four days trip to the northern part of the line,--a most interesting and instructive one.

I left here early in the morning of Thursday, the 18th instant and went by way of Beauvais to the Headquarters of General Rawlinson, Commanding the British IVth Army, on the Amiens sector. I stopped there for only a few moments as I intended to pass a night at General Rawlinson’s Headquarters on my way back. I went on to the British G.H.Q. which I had been cordially invited several times by Field Marshal Haig to visit. I took dinner with the Field Marshal and the principal officers of his Staff that night and was greatly pleased to hear the expressions of admiration and confidence expressed by all of them in the American troops. In fact, everything that I heard there and during the entire trip confirmed what I have so often said, that neither the British nor the French had any conception of the aptitude and intelligence of our men. They now have perfect confidence in their reliability after a few weeks training although it was not a long time ago that they insisted that a period of eight or ten months of intensive training here in France, no matter what training they may have received at home, would be necessary before they would be able to play their part on the line.

The following morning I went to Fruges, which is the Headquarters of General Reed, the Commander of the 2nd American Army Corps. The divisions of this Corps, mostly without their artillery and engineers, but under their own division commanders and with their own Staffs, are attached to British Army Corps. As soon as they complete their training and receive all of their auxiliary units, they will be prepared to form an independent American Corps. General Read was absent from his Headquarters inspecting his divisions and I could not see him until the following day (Saturday) further down the line. I accepted an invitation from the Belgians to visit their headquarters at Houthem. I arrived there in time for the lunch at the mess of their G.H.Q. They, like everyone else in Europe, are anxious to have American units fight with them. After lunch I went to the Chateau (about 15 minuts distance) occupied by King Albert. I had expected merely to inscribe my name in the Visiting Book because, had I asked for an audience it would have required, according to the usual routine, two or three days. But while I was at lunch at the Belgian G.H.Q. a message arrived from the King to the effect that he wished to see me in person and would give me an audience at 2 o’clock. The Belgian officers seemed to regard this as an extraordinary favor. I talked with the King for half an hour. I found him to be a very simple and unaffected gentleman. He spoke very gravely about the effect which the war was having on his own country. He thought that if the war continued in its present form, by the time the Germans were driven out of his country the latter would be practically destroyed. He spoke of his Aviation Service and said that although it was small, it was one of the best in the Allied Services but that it included no bombing planes. The reason he gave for this is, of course, quite obvious, namely; that there are no cities or villages in his front which he can bomb, except Belgian cities and villages and they have not the heart to do that. I explained to him the preparations that we are making and what we had already accomplished and he said that the hope of the Allies was now entirely in America. I offered my congratulations on the approaching Belgian national festival and he replied with some very affecting words of gratitude to the United States for all that they had done and were doing.

Leaving there I visited the Headquarters of our 33d Division at Watou, the division being under the command of General Lewis. I also called on General Watts, the British Corps Commander on this sector. This division is getting its training by platoons, companies, and battalions, on the sector to the right and left of Ypres. Our troops occupy one of the principal lines of defense called the “Poperinghe Line”, and from there are fed into the front line by platoons. The latter, after a very short time, are withdrawn and rested and then go forward again as Companies, and the process is repeated by battalions. This, unless perhaps it may be followed by going into the line in regiments replacing British Brigades, completes their secondary training.

From Watou I went to Oudezeele, a little to the southwest, where I saw General O’Ryan and the Headquarters of the 27th Division. A part of his command had been bombed the night before and he had lost by one explosion 28 men killed. His division, like the 33d, was completing its training on the Ypres sector.

From Oudezeele I returned by way of Cassel (Where from the hill-top one has a fine view of the sea on one side and the German lines about Mont Kemmel on the other), and St. Omer, to the British G.H.Q. I arrived there late in the evening and found an invitation from Marshal Haig to take breakfast with him in the morning. The next morning, Saturday, the 20th instant, I left the British G.H.Q. and went by way of Hesdin and St. Pol to Roellecourt which is the Headquarters of our 78th Division, commanded by General McRae. The last organization of the 78th Division had arrived in its position the preceding night. I had passed some of it enroute to Roellecourt on the latter part of my trip the day before, while returning from my visit to the 33d and 27th Divisions. Here I met General Horn, the British Army Commander on this part of the front. The 78th Division is very nearly ready for its secondary and final training at the front and General Horn told me that he proposed to give this training on the sector occupied by the Canadian Corps in the vicinity of Arras. Being so near the Canadian Headquarters at Duisans, and as General Currie, the Canadian Corps Commander had repeatedly asked me to visit him, I went on to Duisans and stopped for half an hour at his Headquarters. They seemed much pleased to know that some of the Americans were going to train with them.

From Duisans I went across country just to the west of Arras until I reached the highway leading from Arras to Doullens. Arriving at the latter place, I went north a few kilometers to Bouquemaison were General Read was conducting a tournament of selected platoons from his entire Corps. Unfortunately I reached there just as the tournament was finished, so I went down the road with General Reed and the Division Commander, General Cronkhite, to the Headquarters of the 80th Division at Beauval.

After half an hour’s talk with Generals Read and Cronkhite and some of their Staff Officers, I left Beauval late in the afternoon of Saturday the 20th for Moulliens-au-Bois where are the headquarters of the 33d American DIvision commanded by General George Bell. General Bell, like the others, told me of the splendid spirit of his men and how anxious they were “to get in”. He told me about the fight of July 4 in which some of his companies took part and how (which General Rawlinson afterwards told me in more detail) some of his men exchanged uniforms with the Australians so that the former could get into the fight, even contrary to orders.

I arrived at Flixecourt, a kilometer or two from the junction of the NIEVRE and the SOMME, about half-way between Amiens and Abbeville, a little after 6 p.m. Here I met General Rawlinson and his staff and stayed at General Rawlinson’s quarters for the night. General Rawlinson explained to me the operation of the 4th July to which I referred above. He had planned to make an attack (on not a large scale) on a part of his sector northeast of Amiens. It was in this sector that the troops of the 33d Division (Bell’s) were taking their second period of training. The front of this part of the sector was held by Australian troops with whom ours were training. A battalion of our troops was scattered by companies along the front of attack in the front line, and in the second line along with the British troops were six more of our companies. All of these men of ours were most anxious “to go in” but it seems that it was held by higher authority that their training had not progressed far enough to warrant this and an order was sent directing that they be withdrawn from the attacking troops. General Rawlinson told me that he was able to withdraw the six companies that were in the reserve but that the four companies in the front line could not be withdrawn without making his operation impossible, and that it was too late to pull them out. They, therefore, took part in the attack where, it seems, they did really better than anyone else. General Rawlinson said that when he gave the order to withdraw the six companies that were in the reserve there were men who actually cried with rage and disappointment. It seems that a good many of them exchanged clothing with the Australian soldiers and went into the fight without being recognized as Americans. I fancy that they were recognized all right but that the arrangement was quietly winked at by the local officers, but nothing was known of it at the higher headquarters until the list of casualties was scanned, when the fact was discovered. General Rawlinson told me that he would unhesitatingly put our troops in any place where he needed the very best.

I left Flixecourt the following morning, July 21, and went by way of Beauvais to Noailles, where I expected to find General Fayolles. He was not there and a Staff Officer informed me that he had moved his headquarters nearer the front, to Lamorlave, south of the Oise, and on the edge of the Forest of Chantilly. General Fayolles was absent at the moment and I could not wait long for his return but I had a very interesting conversation with the Chief of Staff who told me all about the work of the Americans, of whom General Fayolles had a very considerable force in his group of Armies, --the I, III, and X.

On account of the blocking of the roads by numerous supply and ammunition trains I could not conveniently take the direct route to Versailles vis Paris and I therefore recrossed the Oise and went down the north bank to Pont Oise and thence back by St. Germain.

Everything that I heard on this trip, from the highest sources, was to one effect, --that it is the Americans who are saving the situation in France. And there can be no question that this is true. It is the presence of our American divisions that has brought up the fighting morale of the French to the point where they could make the counter-offensive that they are completing on the Marne and the new attack which began at 5.30 this morning by the 1st French Army north of Montdidier.

(July 31, 1918). I have forgotten to tell you of the Conference of the Military Representatives on July 16 at which a question came up for consideration which gave me an opportunity, sometime before receipt of War Department cablegram No. 73, which announces the policy of our Government in regard to the employment of American troops, was received by me, to express what I believed from instructions previously received by me to be the attitude of our Government in regard to our participation in military efforts in new theatres of war. The question under consideration was, “The Defense of the Naval Base of Corfu.” It seems that on July 26, 1917, there was a Diplomatic Conference in Paris, in the Minutes of which appears the following paragraph:

“France, Great Britain and Italy will be able to maintain during the war a Naval and Military Base in the island of Corfu, it being understood that the entire island shall remain under the sovereignty of Greece.”

That Diplomatic Conference was held at a time when the United States had practically nothing in the way of military or naval forces in Europe, and our Government did not participated in the conference. The Italian Military Representative dug up the above quoted paragraph and made it the subject of a draft of a Joint Note which he presented for consideration. In this Joint Note, after setting forth the necessity for the development of the Naval Base at Corfu, and then, without making any reference to the fact that the United States did not participate in the Diplomatic Conference, he proposed that the Commander in Chief of the Allied Armies in the Balkans should prepare the details of a plan for the development of the Naval and Military Base and should determine the contribution of men and material which each of “The Allies” should make. If it were possible for such a Joint Note to be accepted the French Commander-in-Chief in the East could call on the United States for any contribution that he saw fit. I knew that our Government would not approve such a proposition and told the Military Representatives that there was no use in their attempting to adopt it. I said that the American Government had cordially placed all of its troops that are on the Western Front under the orders of General Foch, the Allied Commander-in-Chief, because it had accepted General Foch as such Commander-in-Chief and so long as it did so it would loyally support him in the execution of his strategic plans; and that if the United States should ever engage in an expedition to another theatre of war than the one of the Western Front, and should agree with its Allies upon a Commander-in-Chief, it would doubtless do the same with respect to that Commander-in-Chief that it now does with respect to General Foch. But, I said, we have no military forces, either military or naval, in the Eastern Mediterranean, and the proposition of the Italian Military Representative is that one single man there shall determine the military policy of the United States with respect to that distant theatre. I added that “the Government of the United States reserves to itself the right and the power to decide as to whether it will intervene in any new theatre of war and, should it do so, when and with what effectives it would intervene; and that, whilst I could not prophesy what action the United States might be willing to commit itself to in this or that theatre, of one thing I am absolutely certain and that is that my Government will never consent to delegate unreservedly to another government or to any one man, the power to determine the time and the place and the means of action with which it will intervene in any new theatre.” It was finally decided that the Diplomatic Conference of July 26, 1917, related only to action that might be taken by England, France, and Italy.

A word about allocation of Liberty engines for tanks, in connection with our Aircraft program. As you know, a plant is in process of erection at Chateauroux for the assembling of heavy tanks, the material for which is to be furnished by the Allies. The French Government furnishes the site at Chateauroux while the Americans and British are supposed to furnish the construction material for the plant, this material to be partly purchased in France but the main part of the iron work to come from Great Britain. The French were to furnish a small part of the unskilled labor, but the main part was to be furnished by the British; and the British and the Americans were to provide the skilled labor for the assembling of the tanks. The progress of the work of erection of the plant has been very unsatisfactory. It is to be a large establishment and ought to have been completed by about now. As it stands, there is no telling when it will be completed. Thus far, according to my information, only a few concrete columns have been erected. The British have not furnished the labor which they were suppose to provide for the construction of the plant, nor have they given priority to material which they were supposed to do. There are some who believe that the British will be in no hurry about the matter,-even if they are able to do anything at all,-because under the present arrangement all of the tanks from Chateauroux are to be allocated to the Americans and the French, and the British get none. All this has to be taken into consideration in connection with the French proposition for the allocation, beginning with the month of August, of Liberty Motors to be used in tanks to be assembled at Chateauroux. Not long ago the French Military Representative, at the instance of his Government and apparently in full accord with the wishes of General Foch, submitted to the Military Representatives the draft of a Joint Note on the general subject of hastening the erection of the plant, and the provision of the material for assembling the tanks. Among his propositions was one to make an allocation of Liberty engines for the tanks to be assembled at Chateauroux. He asked for the allocation of 75 for the month of August, 150 for September, 200 for October, and 200 per month thereafter until and including the month of February, 1919. It seems that the Inter-Allied Committee on Tanks, on which the United States is represented by its own officers, had made a unanimous recommendation to the foregoing effect, and the French Military Representative’s proposition was intended to carry out this recommendation.

When I received the draft of this Joint Note, and before we discussed it, I sent it on to General Pershing for his views. In his reply he stated that the allocation of these tanks was being made in the United States, under agreement between the War and Navy Departments. As the allocation of tanks proposed by the French would apparently interfere with our Aircraft Program he was not willing to make any recommendation which would have that result. I agreed with him in this and asked the French to suspend further action in the matter, which was done. Later, however, the French Representative brought it up again, at the instance of his Government and of General Foch, and requested consideration by the Military Representatives.

Before it was taken up for consideration, Mr. Stettinius arrived and in an interview with him in my office I showed him the paper. I told him that it was one of the many causes of embarrassment resulting from our inability, frequently, to get an all-round unbiased view; that we have separate Inter-Allied Committees, on both of which the United States is represented by its expert officers, dealing with the question of tanks and aircraft; that one essential element of both tanks and aircraft,--Liberty motors,--enters into both of these constructions; that we have a unanimous recommendation from the Inter-Allied Committee on Tanks for a special allocation of engines for tanks, apparently regardless of the effect which it may have on the Aircraft program; that we have nothing from the Inter-Allied Committee on Aircraft, although I am unofficially informed that this Committee might very possibly agree with the Committee on Tanks in this matter of allocation of motors. Mr. Stettinius said that the question proposed by the French was very important in its bearing on our Aircraft Program and that the subject would have to receive careful consideration. He left the following morning for Chaumont and has not yet returned.

The day after his departure the matter came up for consideration by the Military Representatives and I again requested suspension of action on the ground that Mr. Stettinius was now here for the purpose of reaching a conclusion on many of these disputed points relating to munitions, and that we would have to await his judgment. I immediately telegraphed to Mr. Stettinius and General Pershing saying that on the arrival of the former in Paris I would lay the French papers before him. I have just received a telegram from him in which he says that the output of Liberty Motors is little more than enough to meet our own requirements for our own plans. He also says “I can see no way in which the requests for earlier deliveries of engines for tanks can be made unless authorities were to agree to give preference to the program over Aircraft Production.”

In reality, from the point of view of the French, the whole question is whether the authorities will agree to give preference to the allocation as proposed by them, over the requirements of our Aircraft Program. The French claim (and this war, I think, the view of the Inter-Allied Committee on Tanks) that there is a very serious shortage of tanks now and for the campaign in the Spring; that the allotment which they ask, of motors for tank construction, is comparatively a small matter; that the military asset resulting from a small increase in the number of heavy tanks is very much greater than a small increase in the number of aircraft.

On the return of Mr. Stettinius to Paris I am going to ask him to give a positive decision that our Aircraft Program cannot be interfered with; otherwise the matter will remain unsettled and come up for constant discussion, because both the French Government and General Foch are behind the French Military Representative in his proposition.

As a matter of fact, I do not believe that the establishment at Chateauroux will be ready to produce an output of tanks in October or for some time thereafter. I, therefore, see no necessity for making an allocation of motors for August, September and October. It seems to me quite possible that by the time the works at Chateauroux are prepared to operate, our Government may be able to make an allotment of motors for tanks without any serious interference with out Aircraft Program.

Last Saturday, July 27, the Italian Military Representative proposed for consideration the draft of a Joint Note on the subject of the transfer of reserves from France to Italy, in case of necessity. His proposition was in a form to which I have frequently objected, and I objected again in this case.

You will remember that the Convention of Doullens, of March 26 last (after the beginning of the disaster on the British front due to the German drive of March 21) purported to confer on General Foch the powers of an Allied Commander-in-Chief over all troops operating in France. As a matter of fact, it gave him only power to consult with the different national Commanders-in-Chief and the so-called “power of co-ordination.” He found, in practice, that he could do nothing except to confer with the different Commanders-in-Chief and try to persuade them to adopt a common plan. He could give no orders that would transfer a British Division beyond the immediate command of Marshal Haig, nor a French DIvision beyond the immediate command of General Petain.

This led to the Convention of Beauvais on April 3, at which General Foch stated his difficulties and his helplessness and said that it would be better for him to resign his so-called position than to attempt to exercise his incomplete powers. It was then unanimously agreed, with the consent of all Commanders-in-Chiefs who were there present, to give him the complete powers of a Commander-in-Chief, including that of giving and enforcing any order for the strategic movement of troops in France.

At the Session of the Supreme War Council at Abbeville on May 2 and 3, M. Orlando said that the French Government wanted to place their Armies under General Foch as Allied Commander-in-Chief. But when he learned that this would give General Foch the power not only to order Allied Divisions from France to Italy, but also to order Italian Divisions from Italy to France, he said that his Government would not accept under the then existing conditions. He agreed to give General Foch the incomplete and illusive powers of the Convention of Doullens but said that the Italian Government would not give him full power of command until there should be Allied Armies operating in Italy in the same sense as in France. As a matter of fact the British and French Divisions now in Italy do not form British and French Armies but are amalgamated in the Italian Army.

The Italian Military Representative stated that a considerable reinforcement in Italy might be necessary, either to meet an enemy offensive supported by German divisions that might be transferred to that front or to make an offensive of their own. He wanted the Allies to be prepared to send not less than 20 divisions to Italy on the call of the Italian Commander-in-Chief, among which were to be “several” (number not mentioned) American divisions. He wanted to have training areas established in Italy to which an unknown number of American Divisions would be sent to complete their training and take their place on the Italian Front.

In the discussion I said that there was nothing to indicate that even the incomplete powers of General Foch has been exhausted and that until that should be done there was no warrant in appealing to the Allied Governments to pass on this question; that, so far as I could see, General Diaz was appealing through the Italian Military Representative at Versailles to get the Allied Governments to put pressure on General Foch, without there being any evidence that General Diaz had himself consulted General Foch at all. I objected to any mention of American Divisions by name. I said that the British, French, American, and Italian forces now in France constituted one Allied Army under General Foch; that it was the duty of General Diaz to place his plan before General Foch, through the Italian Liaison Officer at General Foch’s Headquarters; that if General Foch approved of General Diaz’ plan he could, if an emergency arose, send troops of the Allied forces in France, to Italy, whether British, French or American, with the consent of the Governments concerned. I insisted that if a Joint Note were sent to Washington which in anyway affected General Foch’s command, my Government would immediately reply that it would give the matter no consideration except as it was approved in whole or in part by General Foch himself. I, therefore, insisted that the Italian Government should submit its plans to General Foch and that the Allied Governments should not interfere unless he himself proposed or accepted a plan which made their approval necessary. This was the final action taken.

I immediately telegraphed the facts to General Pershing and suggested that he communicate with General Foch, asking him to do nothing until the two of them should come to an agreement in regard to anything which affected the use of American troops.

At the same Saturday Session, the question of possible offensive operations on the Macedonian Front came up again. Guided by the instructions contained in your Number 66, dated July 1, I informed the Representatives that the United States having no troops there, had no direct military interest involved and that it would be satisfied with whatever plan the other three Allies should adopt, provided it made no demand on the United States for personnel or material. That being the case, I told them that I did not like to take part in the preparation of any plan, but that if my personal views were of any assistance to them I would gladly give them. As you know, we had two or three weeks ago a Joint Diplomatic and Military Session at which M. Pichon, the French Minister of Foreign Affairs, Comte Bonin Longare, the Italian Ambassador in Paris, and Lord Robert Cecil, from London were present. These latter gentlemen discussed the political aspects of the situation and the French and Italians were decidedly of the opinion that offensive operations in Macedonia were warranted as soon as the season permitted it,--that is somewhere about October 1st, next. Lord Robert Cecil was somewhat non-committal. One serious thing was admitted by all,--that the Greek Army would melt away before the coming winter, just as the Serbian Army had to a considerable extent done, if no hope were given to them of an offensive movement by which they might win back certain lost territory. The Allied forces in Macedonia cannot afford to lose the Greek contingent because, on the strength of it they have withdrawn a very considerable British and French force for use on the Western Front.

Some days after our conference with the above-mentioned diplomats, General Guillaumat asked me to meet him in his office in Paris. He has recently returned from Macedonia where he was the Allied Commander-in-Chief. I could see at once that his interview was inspired by higher authority and he wanted to put me in the position of an arbiter between the French who are determined to have an offensive in Macedonia in October, and the British who are hesitating. General Guillaumat is one of the most level headed Frenchmen I have met and, I think, stands high in the estimation of General Foch. I told him that I would not do anything that would force a decision as between the British and the French because that, of course, would put me in the position of the one who dictated the final plan of action, which would be contrary to the wishes of my Government. But as he was the one who, while in Macedonia, prepared the plan which the French have accepted, I said that I would be very glad to go over the details of it with him, which I did.

I had this interview with General Guillaumat fresh in mind when we met last Saturday. In the discussion that followed it appeared that all were agreed that it would be wise for the three Allies to continue the preparations which they are now making, as though they had decided upon an offensive in October. This would have the effect of holding the Greek and Serbian forces together, because they would live in the hope that something was going to be done. The French still wanted a positive declaration now that an offensive would be undertaken in October. The British said that they would accept my proposal to the effect that preparations continue and the question of an offensive in October be decided by the Allied Governments about that time in the light of the political and military conditions found then to exist. The French yielded and that is the way the question now rests.

Finally, the question was taken up of the formation of an Inter-Allied Bombing Command. The study of this question had been given to the Inter-Allied Committee on Aviation and they had hopelessly split on the question of command. The British on that Committee wanted to have this Command as a sort of “free-lance” and independent of General Foch. When their report was submitted to the Military Representatives a Joint Note was prepared by the French in which the general direction of this bombing force was to be given to General Foch, the Inter-Allied Commander-in-Chief. I conferred with the British Section here and found that they were of the opinion that it would be unwise to create such a command independent of General Foch, but they said that they did not know what the attitude of their Government would be, as some of their officials had expressed the opinion that rather than have the command of this bombing force placed under the French they would establish an independent bombing base in England. My own opinion is, and has always been, that so long as the United States recognizes General Foch as our Commander-in-Chief for all strategic purposes in France we should not separate from him the control of any military agency that he may find necessary in carrying out his strategic plans. In our final action the French, Italian and American representatives agreed on giving the command to General Foch; the British Military Representative also agreed to this in principle, but requested the matter be held up until he could receive definite instructions from his Government.

I was delighted to get War Department cablegram No. 73. WIth it in front of me and with the instructions in your number 66 they clear the ground so thoroughly that I scarcely feel the necessity of asking further instructions on general questions. You will have already received my telegram in which I asked to have the Italian Ambassador made to understand, if he did not at the beginning, that the words, “Supreme Command” which appear in the President’s instructions communicated by your No. 73 means the supreme command of General Foch and is not the “Commando Supremo” of General Diaz. You may think that this is a very small point, but I have discovered that most of the differences of opinion here grow out of small points.

Despatches from America, appearing in the French newspapers say that Mr. Schwab is now making a largely increased estimate of the production in tonnage resulting from our ship-building program, based on progress already made. I hope his estimate may prove true. Should it do so you may be able to carry out the 100-division program, if we do not bring the war to a conclusion with a lesser force. On previous estimates of available tonnage I have feared that even the 80-division program is more than we can accomplish. But when we consider that the American Division is double the strength of the German division, any approximation to the 80-division program will give us a magnificent force.

When I received the decision in Washington about the Murmansk and Archangel Expedition I telegraphed it to General Pershing, suggesting that he take the matter up direct with General Foch, because any delay in getting any troops off that we send there, may cause them unnecessary hardship. He replied that he would do so and I fancy the matter is now settled. My officer at General Foch’s Headquarters informed me that General Foch had replied to General Pershing that he believed the Murmansk Expedition to be necessary.

Since writing the above I have re-read your welcome letter No. 4, dated July 8. I note what you say about the British General Brancker and his proposition that an “aerial offensive” which he thinks should be an entirely independent one, be launched against Berlin from England. The Germans have already taught us that there is an enormous amount of all-important work that can be done and can only be done by bombing planes in operations at the front. If we satisfy the demands of General Foch for every agency of this kind to meet the tactical and strategical necessities it will be a good while, I think, before we can have a great independent air-fleet for bombing Berlin.

Sometime when you have time to do so I would like you to let me know what your ideas are about the “Post-Graduate War University” of which you speak in the last paragraph of your letter.

While writing the foregoing paragraphs Mr. Stettinius called me up on the telephone and I learn that he has returned to Paris and intends to come out to Versailles this afternoon. I shall then take up with him the question of the allocation of Liberty Motors. I have already prepared a formal statement of the facts for him and I think that on them he will be enabled to settle the question for good and for all.

I am very glad to know from your letters that my general attitude on the question of Intervention in Siberia and Russia meets with your approval. I have been a good deal worried about the matter. Now that the President has finally settled the questions in his instructions as communicated in your No. 73, it seems as though it was a rather simple one. Most questions when once finally settled seem to be simple. But I have been for so long a time pulled and hauled in different directions by arguments of all kinds, some of them specious and some of them have more or less appealed to me, that the question became to me a very complicated one.

Cordially yours,

(signed) TASKER H. BLISS


The Hon. Newton D. Baker,
Secretary of War,
Washington, DC

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Bliss, Tasker Howard, 1853-1930, “Tasker H. Bliss to Newton D. Baker,” 1918 July 22, WWP25076, World War I Letters, Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library & Museum, Staunton, Virginia.