The United States and Canada: Copartners in Defense

Politically and sentimentally attached to Great Britain, Canada for many years before the outbreak of the war had been linked by the facts of geography, by a mutual cultural tradition, and by economic ties to the United States. The Dominion's "Sunday religion," as a witty Canadian scholar has put it, came from Britain, but her "weekday habits" were North American. In early years, the interplay of Sunday religion and weekday habits had not been without friction. There had been those in the United States who could not refrain from casting covetous eyes on their weaker neighbor to the north and who sporadically urged Canada to exchange her bonds with Britain for a marriage of convenience with the United States. The result was that defense, to Canadians, meant protection against their impetuous and more powerful neighbor. Notwithstanding those in England who told them to "loose the bonds and go," Canadians felt they had to rely on their British connection to save them from the fate of the Sabine women, but the position began to shift in the decade before World War I. As Canada ceased to be a subject for expansionist oratory in the United States and developed a sense of security on her own borders, she became aware that in disputes with the United States the British connection could not invariably be depended upon. After World War I came a drive toward independence in the conduct of international relations, a drive that brought the establishment of direct diplomatic ties with the United States, but which was held in check "by a cautious desire to retain the advantages of the British connection and, as far as might be, to follow a line not dissimilar to that taken by the United States." 1  More than a century of peace was proof that among nations, at least, a triangle could be a more satisfactory arrangement than a marriage of convenience.

During the 'twenties and early 'thirties Canadians as well as Americans found it difficult to see any real threat to their respective countries. In Ottawa as in Washington wishful optimism and a concomitant aversion to international commitments had become so deep-rooted that the activities of Japan's


"Manchuria Gang" and the ruffians of Hitler and Mussolini could scarcely shake them. The discerning few who saw the beginnings of a world-wide conflagration in the successive challenges of the totalitarian powers could barely make their warnings heard against the many who imagined the Western Hemisphere to be a fireproof house. As the international situation deteriorated, it became clear to President Roosevelt and others that the United States must assume responsibility for defending the Americas. The step from a "Good Neighbor" policy to a policy of hemisphere defense was short, clearly indicated by logic and necessity, and had the merit of commending itself to various shades of opinion. To the great majority of Americans hemisphere defense was a means of putting off, and to others it was a way of preparing for, the day when the evil intentions of the dictatorships would reveal themselves.2


Neither Canada nor the United States could be hurried into a defensive alliance. Perhaps it was, as one authority has written, that "the ghosts of Blaine and Theodore Roosevelt still walked." 3 Nevertheless, some progress was made. A trial balloon sent up by the President in a speech at Chautauqua in August 1936 was followed, in March of the next year, by the first of a series of meetings between Prime Minister Mackenzie King and the President in which the matter of common defense was discussed. The problem of coastal defense was explored in other meetings between the President and the Prime Minister and in informal talks between American and Canadian staff officers in January 1938.

President Roosevelt spelled out American policy more precisely in his address at Kingston, Ontario, on 18 August 1938. "We in the Americas," he said, "are no longer a far away continent, to which the eddies of controversy beyond the seas could bring no interest or no harm." Canada and the United States, Mr. Roosevelt continued, could "in friendship and in entire understanding" resolve to explore every pathway and possibility that might lead to world peace. "Even if those hopes (of world peace) are disappointed," the President told his listeners, "we can assure each other that this hemisphere at least shall remain a strong citadel wherein civilization can flourish unimpaired. The Dominion of Canada is part of the sisterhood of the British Empire. I give to you assurance that the people of the United States will not stand idly by if domination of Canadian soil is threatened by any other


Empire." 4 Prime Minister Mackenzie King gave a warm welcome to the neighborly sentiment expressed by Mr. Roosevelt. Canada, the Prime Minister armed, was determined to look after its own defenses. "We, too," he said, "have our obligations as a good friendly neighbor, and one of them is to see that, at our own instance, our country is made as immune from attack or possible invasion as we can reasonably be expected to make it, and that should the occasion ever arise, enemy forces should not be able to pursue their way, either by land, sea or air to the United States across Canadian territory." 5

With the outbreak of war in Europe in September 1939 the problem of coastal defense in particular and of the defense of the Western Hemisphere in general took on more vital importance; at the same time the relationship between the two countries was radically changed, for Canada immediately entered the war at the side of Britain. The United States was determined to stay out and to maintain a technical, and for the time being a strict, neutrality. The difference in status of the two countries made less feasible a joint approach to their common problems of defense. Canada thrust its energies into the task of getting men and material to the battle front in Europe; the United States continued to devote itself to the matter of Western Hemisphere defense, especially that of Brazil.

The incredibly swift rush of events on the European front in May and June of 1940 shattered any complacency that existed in either Canada or the United States and eventually, though not immediately, brought the two countries into each other's arms. The plunge of German armies through the Low Countries and northern France, the tragedy of Dunkerque, and the subsequent fall of France seemed to offer the probability that Hitler would become master not only of Europe but of the Atlantic Ocean as well. Both Canada and the United States were forced to consider the alarming possibility that by the following winter England would have ceased to be an active combatant.

Within the space of a few weeks following the German breakthrough, an expanded defense program was hurried through Congress and the War Department. The authorized strength of the Regular Army was increased, the goal of the Army's aviation program was raised, the movement for selective service and for inducting the National Guard into the Army was given official blessing, and war planning was hastily recast to conform more closely to the situation.


Now given highest priority, the RAINBOW 4 plan was rushed to completion and submitted to the President on 13 June. Of the five RAINBOW plans, this was the only one for which the. Joint Planners assumed a collapse of British and French resistance in Europe and the loss of the British and French fleets. Recognizing the preponderant strength that under these circumstances could be brought to bear against the Western Hemisphere, and which it was thought would be directed first against South America, the Joint Planners took for their "primary immediate concern" the defense of Panama, the Caribbean area, the continental United States, Alaska, Hawaii, and northeastern Brazil. 6  Brazil was the pot of gold at the rainbow's end.

The fact that the War Plans Division was inclined to view the South Atlantic with particular concern and to minimize the threat in the North Atlantic was one element in the situation that tended to retard progress toward a joint United States-Canadian defense effort. The RAINBOW 4 plan recognized Canada as a potential and necessary ally. It envisaged an alliance, "for the immediate purpose of cooperation in the defense of Newfoundland and Greenland," under which United States forces would have the use of Canadian ports, airfields, highways, and railroads. It was essential, the plan continued, that a "definite understanding" be reached as to the extent Canada could provide for its own defense with its own forces. 7  But partly because men and equipment were in short supply, partly because Canada was a belligerent while the United States was not, and partly because the danger seemed to come from the opposite direction, Army planners were reluctant to commit American troops for defense garrisons in Newfoundland and Canada. Instead, they believed it would be preferable to rush forces northward when an emergency developed.

How circumstances took the RAINBOW 4 plan in tow might well be the lesson for the year 1941.

In Canada the reaction to the critical turn in the wax took much the same course as it did in the United States. There was the same headlong rush to expand the armed forces, to speed up the production of war goods, and much the same concern about England's chances of surviving. On this point, Canadians were more concerned, but less skeptical, than Americans. For the first time, the feeling of security that the British fleet and the Atlantic Ocean had engendered was shaken, indeed badly shaken, but the result was not a reshaping of Canada's strategy of defense. The policy of defeating the enemy before he could reach Canadian soil now merged with the classical military doctrine of concentrating at the decisive point. Thus the Canadian Govern-


ment decided to hasten as best it could the reinforcement of the British Isles. In this connection, the Winnipeg Grenadiers was sent to Jamaica to replace the British garrison there, and the flow of Canadian troops to England was speeded up. At the same time the problem of North American defense took on a urgency hitherto lacking. Although there was no danger of any large-scale invasion of the American continent, the possibility of hit-and-run raids could not be lightly dismissed. Newfoundland, although not then a part of the Dominion of Canada, was in a strategic sense vitally important and especially exposed to attack. Accordingly, the Canadian Government hastily dispatched an infantry battalion and a flight of bombers to the island, and additional forces followed. 8

These active preparations for defending the continent and the possibility of the British fleet's withdrawing to Canadian bases and of Canada's becoming the citadel of the British Empire, which, despite Canadian confidence in Britain's ability to hold, was still a possibility to be considered, seemed to call for a shift toward a continental, rather than a national, war effort. This shift was the keynote of a program that a group of prominent Canadians belonging to the Institute of International Affairs urged in July 1940. They analyzed the situation as follows:

While self-respect demands that Canadians conduct their own defense as much as possible, the United States will, in order to protect herself, insist on intervening at once if Canada is attacked or threatened-particularly if she is not sure of Canada's strategy and strength. Therefore, Canada's best chance of maintaining her national existence is the frank admission from the beginning that her defense must be worked out in cooperation with the United States, on the basis of a single continental defense policy. The emphasis must therefore be on continental effort rather than on national effort. 9

It would be unwise, they said, to set up geographic limits of responsibility but they pointed out that Newfoundland, Labrador, and Greenland were of greater strategic interest to Canada than were Iceland, Bermuda, and the West Indies. Canada could and should undertake the defense of Newfoundland and Labrador; that of Greenland, it was suggested, might be shared. However, these were matters they considered it best to leave until a political agreement and financial arrangements of some sort were worked out with the United States and until there was the closest collaboration between the two general staffs. Although the group proposing this course of action included several men who occupied official positions, the program at the time represented only a segment of Canadian opinion, not official policy.


In the meantime, Canada had been scraping the barrel to send aid to Britain, and now, with the Battle of France drawing to an unhappy end, Mr. Mackenzie King called on the United States for assistance. Canada's most urgent needs, the Prime Minister asserted, were arms and equipment and training facilities. In June the Canadian Government listed its arms requirements: 250,000 Enfield rifles and whatever .30-caliber ammunition the War Department could spare; 100 75-mm. field pieces; 800 machine guns; and 500 Thompson submachine guns, with 1,000,000 rounds of ammunition. 10

Unfortunately, the Canadian requirements were also the trouble spots of the American defense program. On 1 July the War Department could promise Canada only 28,500 rifles, and extend the possibility of 20,000 more that had been provisionally allocated to the Irish Free State. There was, according to the War Department, no surplus ammunition for sale, and neither field pieces nor machine guns could be spared. Nevertheless, in the course of the next few weeks the War Department revised its first estimates, and by the end of July Canada had been definitely promised 80,000 rifles and 4,000,000 rounds of .30-caliber ammunition. 11

Among the problems that faced Secretary Stimson when he took charge of the War Department in July, none was more puzzling or more troublesome than this one of providing Canada with arms. When it came to seeing surpluses, General Marshall and his staff officers generally viewed the problem through dark glasses. On the other hand, the President and the Secretary of the Treasury, Henry L. Morgenthau, who before Mr. Stimson's appointment had been handling many matters that properly belonged to the War Department, were inclined to be overly generous. But the actual figures given in the various lists of urgent requirements drawn up by the Canadian Government or in lists of the available equipment and arms drawn up by the War Department are not significant, for Canada was anxious to obtain as much as it could and the American "surplus" was whatever the War Department chose to make it. 12


Material aid was more easily given than the help that Mr. Mackenzie King sought for the pilot training program. The alarming events of May and June had made necessary an immediate expansion and revision of the Commonwealth Air Training Plan, which was just getting under way and which was intended to be Canada's greatest contribution to the war. Until the expanded and revised program was functioning at full speed Mr. Mackenzie King hoped that "thousands" of pilots could be trained in the United States, but the Operations and Training Division of the United States General Staff (G-3), to whom the Canadian inquiry had been referred, was opposed on grounds that the American Air Corps training program would be seriously disrupted and delayed. This was irrespective of any legal restriction or possible violation of neutrality. 13 The President, in spite of his paternal interest in the policy of aid to Canada, agreed that it would be better if Canadian pilots were not trained in the United States, although at the same time he was willing to leave the door slightly open to the possibility. 14 For the moment, planes, engines, and tools were to be the extent of American aid to Canada's air training program.

The first move in the direction of a truly "continental effort" was a proposal made by the Canadian Prime Minister in mid June that talks be held between representatives of the two general staffs. The proposal was a source of some embarrassment to both the Department of State and the War Department, for neither was ready to accept. But after the President, in early July, assured the War Department that the talks would be informal and that no commitments would be requested or entered into, conferences got under way between Army, Navy, and Air officers of the two countries. 15  Not much progress had been made before new machinery for the staff talks presented itself in the shape of the Permanent Joint Board on Defense, Canada-United States. This link between the two countries was forged by President Roosevelt and Prime Minister Mackenzie King at the Ogdensburg conference of 17-18 August.

The Ogdensburg Meeting and Its Result

Mr. Churchill had once described Canada as "a magnet exercising a double attraction, drawing both great Britain and the United States towards herself


and thus drawing them closer to each other," but in the summer of 1940 the magnetic force was running in the opposite direction. 16 One would have to transpose Canada and Great Britain in the simile. Although the long-standing personal friendship between the President and Prime Minister Mackenzie King, their previous meetings, and the new and sudden concern for the safety of North America undoubtedly paved the way for the Ogdensburg meeting, the impulse that brought them together at this time was the proposed transfer of American destroyers to Britain.

By mid-August the Roosevelt-Churchill exchanges on the question of destroyers for bases had reached the point where the mechanics of the transaction were involved. On 14 August President Roosevelt received an urgent message from Prime Minister Mackenzie King, who had been informed of the negotiations by Mr. Churchill. This message, according to the memory of Under Secretary of State Welles, included the suggestion that the President meet with Mr. Mackenzie King to discuss the destroyer question. Up to this time Mr. Roosevelt had apparently been planning to spend the following weekend cruising on the Potomac. Now he decided to go to the First Army maneuvers at Pine Camp, in upper New York State, and to invite Mr. Mackenzie King to meet him there. The decision was clinched by a report from the United States Minister in Ottawa on 16 August, which advised that pressure was mounting in Canada for an understanding with the United States on joint defense. The President, considerably ahead of his military advisers in his concern for the northeastern seaboard, was turning over in his mind the possibility of acquiring a naval base in Nova Scotia. At the same time, he realized that the closer to hemisphere defense he could tie the destroyer-base transactions the easier it would be to obtain popular approval. A meeting with Prime Minister Mackenzie King at this particular moment would emphasize this connection, would give Canadians the assurance of American interest in defending the top of the continent, and would permit discussion of a base site on Canada's eastern coast. The First Army maneuvers presented an opportune time and place. 17 The President and his party, of which Secretary of War Stimson was a member, left Washington on the evening of 16 August.

Arriving at Pine Camp the next morning, the President and Secretary Stimson spent the day watching the maneuvers. On their return to Ogdens-


burg in the evening, Secretary Stimson was much surprised, he wrote in his diary, to find the Prime Minister of Canada there, in President Roosevelt's railroad car. Mr. Roosevelt opened the conversation with an account of the destroyer-base negotiations. Turning to the matter of a base in Canada, he emphasized that the arrangements must be with Canada, since it was a .Dominion, and that this was the purpose of the meeting that evening. Then, in the words of Mr. Stimson's diary:

. . . the President suggested that there should be a joint Board composed of representatives of the Army and Navy and Air Forces in Canada, together with one lay member, and a similar cup from the United States. The function of this Committee should be to discuss plans for the defense of the northern half of the Western Hemisphere, but particularly in regard to an attack from the Northeast, and he pointed out how vitally important it was that there should be conferences, discussions and plans made between the services of the respective countries in case there should be an attack by way of the St. Lawrence or northeastern coast of Canada, where sudden attack was very likely. 18

The President next pointed out the need for an American air and naval base at Yarmouth or farther east along the coast of Nova Scotia. According to Secretary Stimson, Mr. Mackenzie King was "perfectly delighted with the whole thing." The President's "courage and initiative," the Prime Minister said, "would be a most tremendous encouragement to the morale of Great Britain and Canada," and for his part, Mackenzie King declared, "he would at once agree to the creation of such a Board and that it should be done immediately . . . ." 19 Mr. Stimson's own feeling about the meeting was that "it was very possibly the turning point in the tide of the war, and that from now on we could hope for better things." 20

A brief press announcement was issued the next day:

The Prime Minister and the President have discussed the mutual problems of defense in relation to the safety of Canada and the United States.
It has been agreed that a Permanent Joint Board on Defense shall be set up at once by the two countries.
This Permanent Joint Board on Defense shall commence immediate studies relating to sea, land and air problems including personnel and materiel.
It will consider in the broad sense the defense of the north half of the Western Hemisphere.
The Permanent Joint Board on Defense will consist of four or five members from each country, most of them from the services. It will meet shortly.

For the important suggestion that the board should be a permanent body designed to meet a continuing problem instead of a particular situation, the Prime Minister was apparently responsible. 21


On both sides of the border only a relatively few voices were raised in opposition. Some Americans were only lukewarm, and there were a few Canadians who saw in the Ogdensburg declaration the old problems of imperial relations being revived in a new form; but the critics were in the minority. Mr. Mackenzie King even went as far as to asseverate that "no development in our international relations has ever received such unanimous acclaim in this country." 22 The first reaction of the War Plans Division to the news of Ogdensburg was that something definite would undoubtedly have to be done to inject new life into the staff conversations. If "serious attention" were now to be given to joint planning, wrote Colonel Clark, the acting head of War Plans, there should be conferences in Canada, for the point had been reached where actual reconnaissance on the ground was needed. 23 The Permanent Joint Board on Defense would, it was thought, be a direct continuation of these earlier staff conferences.

The Functioning of the Permanent Joint Board on Defense

As soon as President Roosevelt and Prime Minister Mackenzie King announced their intention of establishing a joint board, the Canadian Government moved posthaste to set it in operation. On Tuesday, two days after the Ogdensburg meeting, the Canadian Minister in Washington suggested that the board hold its first session at Ottawa that Thursday. The Canadian capital was acceptable as a meeting place; the proposed date was out of the question, for the American members had yet to be named. In the next few days the American section was appointed, Mayor Fiorello La Guardia of New York was designated its chairman, and on Monday, 26 August 1940, scarcely more than a week after the President and the Prime Minister had agreed on the idea, the first meeting of the board took place. 24

Canadian military planners had approached the first session of the board with certain questions remaining from the previous discussions. They were proceeding upon the expectation that if the defensive screen provided by the British Navy were rendered ineffective a large-scale attack against Canada


might be launched sometime during the summer of 1941. As they assessed the possibilities, April 1941 would be the critical month, for that would be the time when the prelude to the attack-the attempts of the enemy to establish a foothold in Newfoundland and eastern Canada-would have to be started if an invasion of the American continent were to follow. In the meantime, during the nine months preceding April, hit-and-run raids could be expected, and although it was clear that the United States would enter the war as soon as enemy forces actually invaded Canada, American intervention was by no means certain in the event of a small-scale attack. It was therefore hoped that out of the deliberations of the Permanent Joint Board would come a statement of intentions from the United States. By an agreement reached with the Newfoundland Government only two or three days after the Ogdensburg meeting, Canada had taken over the defense of Newfoundland. How to apportion responsibility for the sea, air, and coastal defenses of that island was, according to the Canadian Government, the most pressing question the board had to consider. Next on the agenda proposed by Canada were the defenses of the Pacific coast. Third was the question of reciprocal maneuvers. The Canadian General Staff had received no assurance, finally, that the United States would provide the assistance in arms and equipment that Canada desired pending American participation in the war. The procurement of arms and ammunition therefore appeared on the agenda drawn up by the Canadian Government, but only as the last item of the agenda. 25 As a matter for deliberation by the board, long-range planning seems to have been given precedence over immediate needs.

American staff planners took somewhat the same approach. Like their Canadian counterparts, they were inclined to view the Permanent Joint Board as a means of proceeding with the unfinished business left over from the staff conversations. They were interested, in connection with the RAINBOW 4 planning, in knowing such details as what Canadian facilities-roads, airfields, and the like-would be available to American forces. The prospect of having an American base in Newfoundland and the talk of acquiring one in Nova Scotia now gave to such questions a timeliness that had previously been lacking, and the board would seem to have been a convenient instrument for obtaining the answers. But in this particular, the board had very little latitude because all matters relating to the Newfoundland base were being strictly confined to discussions with the British Government in London. Furthermore,


President Roosevelt, for his part, saw the board as something more than a medium for exchanging information. He held the view, reflected in the phraseology of the Ogdensburg declaration, that the board should consider joint United States-Canadian operations in their broadest aspect only, and he instructed the American section to this effect just before the first meeting. General Embick, Secretary Stimson's old comrade of World War I who had been appointed senior United States Army member, agreed that the board should only establish the general policies of cooperation without attempting to work out the details, but the trouble was that what General Embick might consider merely an administrative detail might sometimes be a matter of basic policy to Capt. H. W. Hill, the senior United States Navy member. 26

The business of the board, as Prime Minister Mackenzie King said when he returned from Ogdensburg, was to study and recommend. Its function was purely advisory. Nevertheless, in the course of time and quite informally, the board took on some of the aspects of an administrative agency. It became in some respects a clearinghouse for matters of common interest. And in addition to its strategic functions, the board became involved in what might be called operational planning when, as in the matter of command relationships, it not only recommended a general policy but also worked out the arrangements by which the policy could be carried out.

The details of its own procedures were never of deep concern to the board, and only two or three of its wartime recommendations had to do with procedural matters. The Canadian section reported to the War Committee of the Canadian Cabinet, putting before it the recommendations agreed upon by the board, which were then considered by the Prime Minister and Cabinet after the advice of the Canadian Chiefs of Staff Committee had been obtained. The American section reported directly to the President. As a general rule, Mayor La Guardia first obtained the concurrence of the executive departments most concerned and then submitted the recommendations of the board to the President for approval, but for a time he sent them direct to the President, who might, as he saw fit, obtain the views of the appropriate Cabinet members. Some of the recommendations do not appear to have been submitted to the President, and not all of those submitted received formal approval before they were placed in effect. Even the general procedure of the American section was on one occasion reversed. In this instance, that of bringing the Alaska Highway into being, a special committee of the Cabinet made the original recommendation; the President's approval followed immediately and work was started on the preliminary plans; next, the Canadian Government gave its


permission for a survey, and the Chief of Engineers was ordered to begin construction; only then was the question submitted to the Permanent Joint Board whose recommendation on the subject was thus drawn up after the project was well under way. 27 Until the end of the war in 1945, the board made only one formal report, that drawn up after the third meeting and submitted to the President on 4 October 1940. It was submitted not so much because the board thought an accounting of its activities was required, but because it was thought best that the two governments approve at this time the allocation of responsibility and the immediate measures that were to be included in the board's first basic defense plan. 28 After the first and only report, whenever matters of especial interest were dealt with, the President was apt to receive a very informal and personal account written in Mayor La Guardia's matchless style.

Up to the surrender of Japan in September 1945 the board made thirty-three formal recommendations, two thirds of them before the United States entered the war and none of them during the last year of hostilities. Each recommendation represented the unanimous decision of the board, but this unanimity, as the wartime secretary of the Canadian section has pointed out, did not mean that each member was satisfied with every decision of the board; it meant rather that everyone was agreed that no other decision would be generally acceptable. Differences often cropped out in the course of the discussions, but they seldom occurred on strictly national grounds. More often the divisions were along service lines. On other occasions later, when Americans came into contact with colonial officials and representatives of the British armed forces, similar lines of cleavage were observed. Then, as with the Permanent Joint Board, it was not unusual for Army representatives to join in agreement against the naval officers without regard for national lines. 29

At the very start, the board decided that "there should be a full and complete exchange of military, air and naval information between the two sections of the Board, with the understanding that each section would be free to convey to its government any information it received." 30  From this basic principle, adopted as the First Recommendation, much of the success of the board followed. After laying down this precept the board proceeded to con-


sider the defense of the eastern coast and its approaches. Ten of the first twenty recommendations, as well as most of the discussion during the first meeting, concerned this paramount problem, namely, the defense of Newfoundland and eastern Canada. After it came the defense of the Pacific coast and of the Sault Ste. Marie Canals, the projection and protection of routes to Alaska and toward the British Isles, the establishment of weather stations in the frozen north, and all the details of a working partnership.

Basic Problems of Responsibility and Command

The whole framework of cooperation, naval as well as military, rested on two joint defense plans, one based on existing strength and on the assumption that Britain had ceased to be an active and effective combatant, the other based on estimated strength as of 1 May 1941 and on the assumption that Canada and the United States were allied with a fighting Britain. 31 Work on the first of these plans, the joint Basic Defense Plan-1940, was begun soon after the first meeting of the board, and by the end of the second meeting, on 11 September, a joint draft had been agreed upon. The real task was to transform this blueprint into a finished, detailed plan acceptable to both Canada and the United States. In a radio broadcast on 20 October, Col. O. M. Biggar, the Canadian chairman, gave a résumé of the difficulties that faced the board. With gravity and earnestness, and taking a realistic view of the road ahead, Colonel Biggar reported to his listeners:

All the possible dangers from enemy operations must be the subject of profound study in advance of common action. The governments . . . must reach agreement as to the responsibilities each is to assume. These responsibilities must be carefully defined. Each government must be satisfied that the other is capable of carrying out the task allotted to it. There must be an understanding about the way the forces of each are to be reinforced by those of the other. Troop movements must be coordinated; the capacity of the available transportation facilities taken into account; methods of communication between the forces of each country arranged; and points with regard to supply and the like worked out in detail. In addition to all this you have to provide for elasticity in the plans. You must provide for their modification from time to time as events require. All this takes time, indeed it takes a long time.32

During the preliminary discussions within the War Department General Embick had proposed that when the need arose each government reinforce its peacetime garrison in Newfoundland "to a total of one division." 33 He further proposed that Canada take primary responsibility for the defense of the


Gaspé Peninsula, that the United States be primarily responsible for the land defense of Canada's Maritime Provinces against major attack, and that the United States augment Canadian forces in the Victoria-Vancouver area "by one division initially." General Embick suggested to the Chief of Staff that the United States could discharge its responsibility toward the Maritimes by incorporating those provinces into the New England Sector of the North Atlantic Coastal Frontier, and in this way commitments that might be found irrevocable when put in practice could be avoided. The proposals were approved by General Marshall as the position to be taken in the discussions with the Canadian members. The coastal frontier idea may have been discussed by the board, but no hint of it appears in the first joint draft. Also, in this version, American responsibilities toward Newfoundland were somewhat broadened. Instead of each government augmenting its forces, the United States undertook to provide the entire emergency reinforcement-one reinforced division-"including a detachment for Greenland." 34 The reference to Greenland was not out of keeping with the current RAINBOW 4 planning of the War Department, which considered Newfoundland and Greenland together as one sector or theater. 35 But after this first mention the Permanent Joint Board took no further cognizance of Greenland.

The plan worked out by the service members of the board had rough sledding in the War Plans Division in spite of the fact that Colonel McNarney of the American section of the board was also a member of the War Plans Division's Plans and Projects Group, whose chief, Colonel Clark, was at the moment acting head of the division. A memorandum for the Chief of Staff on 20 September stated, as the view of the War Plans Division, that the plan had "certain defects of a minor nature . . . ." In the original version of the memorandum drafted by Colonel Clark three days earlier, but never sent, these "minor defects" loomed as "serious inadequacies." The whole issue of command, according to Colonel Clark's original draft, had been side-stepped; the allocation of responsibilities was so obscure that no one could grasp the actual intent; and the joint mission, it was claimed, had been drawn up out of politeness rather than military necessity. Colonel Clark's initial reaction may have reflected a misgiving that some of the planning functions of the War Plans Division might be taken over by the Permanent Joint Board on Defense, a


misgiving that on further reflection he may have considered unwarranted. 36 Although Colonel Clark revised his views before he submitted them to the Chief of Staff, the criticism he had made of the provisions dealing with the subjects of command, mission, and responsibilities set forth the basic issue on which the two national sections of the Permanent Joint Board were divided.

In drawing up joint Basic Defense Plan-1940, the board adopted as its considered approach the view that the plan should merely state what was required, without specifying in detail how it was to be done. 37 To achieve unanimity and facilitate the labors of the board, the general principles of joint defense were to be agreed upon first and then the particulars, on which more controversy could arise, were to be worked out afterward. This first draft of the 1940 plan was adopted in the very understanding that it did no more than outline the respective responsibilities and specify the several tasks involved. 38 At the meeting of 25 September an attempt was made to reach a text that would be satisfactory to both countries. The general principles set forth in the original draft, stripped of anything resembling particular commitments, soon reappeared as the board's first formal report.

A new draft of the joint Basic Defense Plan-1940 was drawn up at the October meeting of the board. It contained no major changes, according to General Embick, who went on to inform the War Plans Division that the purpose of this revision was merely "to clear up obscure matters, eliminate unnecessary verbiage and incorporate minor changes suggested by the Canadian members." 39 In this draft of 10 October responsibility was allotted according to sovereignty. All Canadian territory and coastal waters were designated as the responsibility of Canada; the defense of United States territory, including Alaska, and of American coastal waters was to be the responsibility of the United States. Newfoundland, not being a part of either country, was a case of overlapping responsibilities. 40 If the allocation was in general less obscure than in the earlier draft, it nevertheless contained implications extremely distasteful to anyone who held the opinion that American soldiers must never be placed under foreign command, for it was to be expected that command would go along with responsibility.


The War Plans Division again had a number of comments to make, comments that again emphasized the question of command and responsibility. This time the yardstick was the Army's RAINBOW 4 plan. Most of the provisions of the new draft, the Plans Division found, were in accordance with RAINBOW 4 except for the allocation of responsibilities, which was "too general to permit revision of tasks now assigned in RAINBOW 4." 41 To use RAINBOW 4 as a gauge for measuring a joint Canadian-American defense plan was like using a yardstick to measure cubic content, since RAINBOW 4 was a unilateral plan in which the problem of sharing strategic responsibility and operational command did not arise.

The difficult task of giving a shape of mutuality to the War Department's unilateral plans for defending the northern part of the hemisphere now devolved upon Colonel McNarney, who had succeeded Colonel Clark as head of the Plans and Projects Section of the War Plans Division. Thus it was Colonel McNarney who prepared the War Plans Division comments on the 10 October draft of the joint defense plan and who attempted to spell out the allocation of responsibility and command along the lines of RAINBOW 4. Rejecting "mutual cooperation" as too difficult of achievement and insufficiently productive of results and doubting whether "unity of command" would be acceptable, McNarney elaborated on General Embick's proposal of early September by suggesting the Coastal Frontier system as a solution. He recommended that Newfoundland, the Maritime Provinces, Alaska, and British Columbia all be incorporated into the existing system as sectors of the North Atlantic Coastal Frontier and the Pacific Coastal Frontier, respectively. Command of the British Columbia Sector would be vested in Canada, and that of the Alaska Sector in the United States. On the Atlantic coast, command of the two sectors-Newfoundland and the Maritime Provinces-would be vested in Canada until, in the case of Newfoundland, the major elements of a reinforced American division arrived and, in the case of the Maritime Provinces, a corps of two or more American divisions arrived. 42 In effect, this would have meant that Canada would probably command both the British Columbia Sector and the Maritime Provinces Sector, for the likelihood of two American divisions moving into the Maritimes was rather remote. Thus, on the face of things, an allocation along lines of territorial sovereignty similar to that of the draft of 10 October would have been provided. Actually, there would be no such division of command, for it was intended that the


North Atlantic and the Pacific Coastal Frontiers both continue as American commands.

The War Plans Division proposals gave only a gloss of mutuality, which was not enough to make a satisfactory plan of joint defense. Canadians were just as reluctant as Americans to place their troops under foreign command, particularly in Canada and at a time when the early summer's feeling of crisis was beginning to pass. Furthermore, Captain Hill, the senior United States Navy member of the board, objected to the proposals of the Army planners, and it was thought best not to submit a paragraph on organization and command until the American section could present a united front. 43  Finally, as a result of the growing belief that England might hang on successfully and beat back any attempted invasion, Admiral Stark began to urge the President to authorize staff conferences with the British, a step that the British Ambassador, Lord Lothian, and Admiral Pound had been suggesting for some time. 44 This challenged the very assumptions on which the joint Basic Defense Plan-1940 rested. At the January 1941 meeting of the Permanent Joint Board, the Canadian Army representative declared the plan obsolete and proposed that a joint Basic Defense Plan No. 2-1941 be drawn up at once. This was the plan intended for a situation in which Britain was still an effective combatant and in which Canada and the United States were allied with Britain in bringing the war home to the Axis. The 1940 plan was not so easily laid to rest, nor was the 1941 plan so readily produced. An "extended discussion" of a 1941 plan at the February meeting of the board revealed how little progress had been made. There had not yet been sufficient preparation for the service members to meet and set to work on a draft.45

In spite of the fact that joint Basic Defense Plan-1940 was at least obsolescent, if not actually obsolete, the service members of the Permanent Joint Board undertook to draft a joint operational plan designed to implement it, while simultaneously preparing to draw up the new joint Basic Defense Plan No. 2. The command issue continued to be an obstacle. A version of the joint operational plan, implementing what Canadian planners considered an outmoded plan, was accepted by the Canadian service members of the board on 15 April 1941. This version vested "strategic direction" of Canadian and American forces in the Chief of Staff, United States Army, subject to prior consultation with the Canadian Chief of Staff concerned. War Department planners held that the same principle should apply to the joint Basic Defense


Plan No. 2. A War Plans memorandum for General Embick, written early in May, proposed that Canada have tactical command (or what the British called "operational control") of all forces operating in Canadian territory and in Newfoundland, subject to a provision that would have prevented American troops from being distributed in small bodies and attached to Canadian forces. Strategic direction of all forces in the Maritime Provinces and on the Gaspé Peninsula and in British Columbia and the Puget Sound area would be vested in the United States. 46 These proposals were no different from the position taken by General Embick and Colonel McNarney some six months earlier, although the terminology was slightly changed. The operational plan premised on joint Basic Defense Plan-1940 contained somewhat similar provisions. However, in the case of joint Basic Defense Plan No. 2 the Canadian Chiefs of Staff objected to giving the United States strategic direction on the grounds that to do so would in effect, if not in fact, place Canadian forces in Canada under the supreme command of Washington and also that North America was in no danger of becoming an active theater of operations. Their contention was that specific operational tasks could be assigned to the armed forces of both countries and that coordination of responsibility could be achieved satisfactorily by mutual cooperation  47 At the meetings of 28 and 29 May, the board devoted the entire two days to the problem without reaching any agreement, and it was finally decided that the only feasible approach was command by cooperation.48

The decision was one in which the War Plans Division was reluctant to join. Its views on the subject had been clearly set forth by Colonel McNarney; they were now reaffirmed:

As pointed out in previous memoranda relative to earlier drafts of the subject plan, the War Plans Division considers mutual cooperation an ineffective method of coordination of military forces. The present draft of the plan therefore is considered defective in its provisions relative to command arrangements.49

Unsatisfactory though it might have been to the War Plans Division, mutual cooperation was the only acceptable compromise. 50  It was, furthermore, the normal method of coordinating operations of Army and Navy


forces, and the services' current handbook on the subject provided a convenient model for General Embick and his fellow planners. The phraseology of the 1941 plan, as finally adopted, followed quite closely that of the handbook. The plan provided:

Coordination of the military effort of the United States and Canada shall be effected by mutual cooperation, and by assigning to the forces of each nation tasks for whose execution such forces shall be primarily responsible . . . . A unified command may, if circumstances so require, be established . . . when agreed upon by the Chiefs of Staff concerned; or when the commanders of the Canadian and United States forces concerned agree that the situation requires the exercise of unity of command, and further agree as to the Service that shall exercise such command . . . .

In explanation of what constituted unity of command, the plan continued:

Unity of command, when established, vests in one commander the responsibility and authority to coordinate the operations of the participating forces of both nations by the setting up of task forces, the assignment of tasks, the designation of objectives, and the exercise of such coordinating control as the commander deems necessary to ensure the success of the operations . . . . [Its does not authorize a commander . . . to control the administration and discipline of the forces of the nation of which he is not an officer, nor to issue any instructions to such forces beyond those necessary for effective coordination . . . [nor to] move naval forces of the other nation from the North Atlantic or the North Pacific Ocean, nor to move land or air forces under his command from the adjacent land areas, without authorization by the Chief of Staff concerned . . . .51

Apart from the near impossibility of the two forces ever agreeing as to which should exercise unity of command, the great defect according to American staff planners was that unity of command, as defined in joint Basic Defense Plan No. 2, did not confer authority over administration and discipline. Without this authority, there was, they contended, only the semblance of command. Given men of the right temperament in command of the respective forces, mutual cooperation might produce the better results. The problem continued to vex Army planners. Only when the threat to North America had receded and the efforts and attention of the United States and Canada were directed elsewhere did command cease to be a point at issue between the forces of the two countries.

The Pre-Pearl Harbor Pattern of Joint Defense

The 1941 plan, officially known as joint Basic Defense Plan No. 2 or ABC-22, was not directed toward hemisphere defense as an end in itself. It was intended instead to supplement the agreements reached in the United States-British staff conversations, the aim of which was to bring to bear


against Germany the combined might of the United States and the British Commonwealth when the United States entered the war, assuming that it did. According to this conception, Newfoundland, for example, would be the first in a line of outposts from which to catapult the invasion of Europe, or it would at least be one of the piers in a vast bridge of ships and planes leading to Britain. All this was in sharp contrast to the defensive strategy of RAINBOW 4 and the 1940 joint defense plan. 52 Certain tasks to be undertaken jointly by the armed forces of Canada and the United States, should the latter enter the war, were listed in ABC-22. First on the list, in keeping with the purpose of the plan, was the protection of overseas shipping in the northern portion of the Pacific and western Atlantic areas. Primary responsibility for executing this task was assigned to the United States Navy, with the support of all Canadian services and the United States Army. The roles assigned to the Canadian and American armies in the execution of the other four joint tasks were as follows:

Joint Task Two — the defense of Newfoundland.

Canadian Army — Defend Newfoundland, in cooperation with other Canadian and United States services. Cooperate in the defense of the United States bases in Newfoundland.
United States Army — Defend Newfoundland in cooperation with Canadian and other United States services. Defend United States bases. Support associated naval operations.

Joint Task Three — the defense of eastern Canada and the northeastern portion of the United States.

Canadian Army — Defend the Maritime Provinces and the Gaspé Peninsula.
United States Army — Defend the northeastern portion of the United States. Support associated naval operations. Support the defense of the Maritime Provinces and the Gaspé Peninsula.

Joint Task Four — the defense of Alaska.

Canadian Army — (No specific responsibility. The RCAF was assigned a supporting role.)
United States Army — Deny the use by the enemy of sea and land bases in Alaska and the Aleutian Islands. Defend United States military and naval bases and installations in Alaska. Support associated naval operations.

Joint Task Five — the defense of western Canada and the northwestern portion of the United States.


Canadian Army — Defend western Canada. Cooperate with the United States Army in the defense of the Strait of Juan de Fuca-Puget Sound area.
United States Army — Defend the northwestern portion of the United States. Support the defense of western Canada. Cooperate with Canadian forces in the defense of the Strait of Juan de Fuca-Puget Sound area. Support associated naval operations. 53

Both plans, the 1940 and ABC-22, however much they differed in "general strategic concept," did have in common certain preliminary steps that were meant to be taken in advance of the United States becoming a belligerent, although the plans themselves, it must be remembered, were wax plans and were intended to become generally effective only when the United States entered the war. These preliminary, prewar steps, as listed in ABC-22, were:

On the east coast, Canada was to provide the following for the use of either country:

Facilities for the operation of a composite group (seventy-three planes) of United States Army aircraft at the Newfoundland airport (Gander) and storage for 1,500,000 gallons of aviation gasoline.

Storage for 1,000,000 gallons of aviation gasoline in the Botwood-Lewisporte area and shore facilities permitting the operations of one squadron of United States Navy patrol planes.

Land-plane staging facilities, including radio facilities, at Sydney, Nova Scotia.

A fighter airdrome in the vicinity of St. Johns, Newfoundland.

Port defenses at St. Johns, Botwood, and elsewhere as required.

Expanded aircraft operation facilities in the Maritime Provinces to permit the early operation by the United States of one squadron, and the ultimate operation of four squadrons of naval patrol planes.

The United States, for its part, was to provide:

A defended base at Argentia for the operation of two squadrons of patrol planes (twenty-four planes), including storage of 110,000 barrels of fuel oil and 1,800,000 gallons of aviation gasoline.

Staging facilities, including radio facilities, at Stephenville for short-range aircraft between Sydney and the Newfoundland airport.

Improvement of the Newfoundland Railway and an increase in its rolling stock to meet United States requirements.

Development of airways and other transportation facilities leading into eastern Canada.


On the west coast, Canada agreed to provide:

Staging facilities for aircraft between Alaska and the continental United States.

An airdrome on the northern end of Vancouver Island and one at Ucluelet, midway down the west coast of the island.

Additional coast defenses at Christopher Point, British Columbia.

The United States agreed to provide:

Army bases at Anchorage and Fairbanks.

Land aviation facilities at Ketchikan, Yakutat, Cordova, Anchorage, Bethel, Nome, Boundary, and Big Delta.

Naval air stations at Sitka, Kodiak, and Dutch Harbor and their defenses.

Airways between Ketchikan and Kodiak and between Nome and Boundary.

A "readjustment" of coast defenses in Juan de Fuca Strait "to coordinate with" Canadian fixed defenses at Esquimalt.

Aircraft operating facilities at Seattle, Whidbey Island, Tongue Point, Aberdeen, Bellingham, Everett, Olympia, and Spokane County. 54

During 1941 these measures were gradually put into effect, but it would be wrong to infer that by doing so the United States ranged itself alongside Britain and Canada as an active combatant. The mere fact that the measures were incorporated in war plans did not, by that fact, make them acts of war. Whether Hitler would have accepted the challenge presented in the North Atlantic had there been no attack on Pearl Harbor, no one can say.

From the beginning, the Permanent Joint Board assumed considerable responsibility for seeing that these steps were carried ,out. At each meeting reports of progress were submitted by the service members. On occasion, personal investigations were made by individual members of the board, while the board as a group made at least two field trips to the Pacific coast and twice visited the Newfoundland-Nova Scotia area. In addition to the various branches of the armed services a number of governmental agencies, both in Canada and in the United States, were involved in the actual conduct of operations. Physicians of the United States Public Health Service helped put down disease in Newfoundland; the Civil Aeronautics Board procured equipment for airfields in western Canada; and the Reconstruction Finance Corporation provided the funds for rehabilitating the Newfoundland Railway. The Permanent Joint Board was the catalyst.

Thanks to the American bases in Newfoundland, the responsibilities the United States assumed on the Atlantic coast were more direct and more sig-


nificant of purpose than those undertaken on the other side of the continent. 55 Much was done in the name of the Newfoundland Base Command. In fact, the first units of the American garrison arrived in Newfoundland before there was a base to defend. With the troops went extra arms and equipment, ostensibly for their own use but actually for a Canadian antiaircraft battery that was only partly equipped.

Two incidents, five months apart, illustrate the course of collaboration during 1941. Late in May, when the German warships Bismarck and Prinz Eugen were at large, the Royal Canadian Air Force found it had no planes available that could reach the area where the German ships were operating, and as a last resort the Royal Canadian Air Force inquired about the possibility of getting twelve or so B-17's, to be flown by Canadians but "with such United States military 'observers' as required to insure the operation of the aircraft." 56 The United States reluctantly turned aside the appeal for help. Both General Embick and the War Plans Division agreed that nothing of the sort could be done "without active participation in the war." 57 This was before construction began on American air bases in Greenland, before American troops landed in Iceland, before the United States Navy undertook to escort convoys to Iceland and to protect any other ships bound in that general direction. Then, at the end of October 1941, German submarines for the first time began concentrating off the Strait of Belle Isle and one of them made the discovery that the United States was now actively neutral at the side of Canada and Britain. It was just at dusk, the U-boat was lying on the surface partly submerged, when an RCAF bomber winging its way home from a reconnaissance mission spotted the German raider. The plane released two bombs in perfect pattern, but unfortunately they had been "safetied" and failed to explode. The next day, sleet and snow and winds of near hurricane force put an end to air operations. On the following morning, at daybreak, a B-17 of the Newfoundland Base Command dove out of the thick low-lying clouds and found itself practically on the deck of a submarine. From an altitude of less than five hundred feet the plane dropped one bomb that missed the submarine by a fairly close margin. By the time the B-17 was in position for another attack the submarine had disappeared underneath the water, its course completely hidden by the thick weather. Newfoundland "is going to be a most interesting place . . . ," wrote the newly appointed American


commander, Maj. Gen. Gerald C. Brant, when he reported the incident.58 One outcome was that American air patrols were coordinated with the Canadian patrols, and plans were made to operate in conjunction with the Navy should the submarines move southward into the waters off Cape Race.59

On the Pacific coast, cooperation between the services of the two countries, although just as close, was more compartmented. Geographically and strategically, Vancouver Island occupied a position roughly comparable to that of Newfoundland, but its defenses were determined by the international boundary. American troops cooperated in the defense of the island, but they stayed on the American side of the strait. Canadians helped defend Puget Sound, but from north of the boundary. Much emphasis was therefore placed on the interchange of information-the integration of the respective communications and air warning systems-and on the coordinated disposition of harbor defenses. A survey by a group of American and Canadian officers in October 1940 had disclosed weaknesses in the existing defenses on both sides of Juan de Fuca Strait. The proposal then had been to install additional long-range guns and four 155-mm. guns in the vicinity of Port Angeles, Washington, a 155-mm. battery near Oak Bay, British Columbia, and two 8-inch howitzers on Vancouver Island, near Church Point. Another 155-mm. battery was to be installed on York Island in Johnstone Strait.60  After the original plan had acquired nine indorsements and after eight months of further study and reconsideration the situation reduced itself to the following: the United States would install two 16-inch guns at Cape Flattery and two near Port Angeles, which meant that Canadian needs could be reduced to a pair of 8-inch railway guns instead of the four 8-inch and four 155's previously required. There were several delays while the War Department and the Commanding General, Fourth Army, awaited each other's communications on the subject, and in early May 1941 the War Plans Division lagged about three weeks behind actual developments. By mid June orders were issued to ship the two 8-inch guns to Canada and on 21 July they left Aberdeen, Maryland, for Victoria, British Columbia. They had been installed for two or three months but were still lacking fire control equipment when Pearl Harbor was attacked.61


The United States undertook to strengthen the defenses of Alaska as another segment of the common defense, while Canada for its part agreed to build the string of airfields between Alaska and the rest of the United States. A beginning of sorts had already been made on both, but little progress had been made on either by the time the Permanent Joint Board came into being and identified the two programs as separate components of the same over-all scheme. By the close of 1941 the five airfields of the Canadian program-at Grand Prairie, Alberta, Fort St. John and Fort Nelson, British Columbia, Watson Lake and Whitehorse, Yukon Territory-could be used with danger and difficulty. With the entrance of the United States into the war this air route to Alaska-the Northwest Staging Route-assumed great importance and because of it the Alaska Highway, one of the most spectacular, most grandiose examples of United States-Canadian collaboration, was launched.



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