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Draft Proposal for the Inter-Allied Munitions Council

[2 July 1917]


The following draft scheme for an Inter-Allied Council will, subject to approval by the War Cabinet,1 be submitted officially to the Allies:-

“1.  An Inter-Allied Munitions Council2 of five members or ten, representing the Governments of France, Great Britain, Italy, Russia and the United States respectively shall be established in London to examine and coordinate demands for munitions and raw materials thereof required by Allied Governments or their nationals from the United States and to submit a programme of such requirements to the United States Government. In the case of the United States supplies being insufficient to meet the requirements of any of the Allies in any particular, the representative of such Government will present to the Council such information as he may think necessary in support of his application.

The Allied Governments will not place orders or attempt to obtain offers or make inquiries in the United States for any of the material specified below except in accordance with the programme submitted and reported on by the Inter-Allied Council.

The Allied Governments shall further exercise such supervision over their respective nationals as shall secure that no private orders are placed in the United States except in accordance with the programme approved by the Council which will make provision for essential civilian requirements.

2. Requirements to be submitted to the United States Government by the Inter-Allied Council shall include munitions and raw materials and machinery required for their manufacture as specified in the attached schedule.3

3. The Inter-Allied Council shall consider these requirements in the light of tonnage and finance available for the articles mentioned in the schedule; and no demand shall be put forward which has not been approved by the financial Department of the Government concerned as being provided for under financial arrangements between such Government and the United States Government and also by shipping Department of such Government as being consistent with the programme of available tonnage.

4. The members of the Council will use the delegation of their Governments on the Commission Internationale de Ravitallement4 (or, in the case of the British member the Ministry of Munitions) as their staffs.

Applications put forward by the Allied delegations on the Commission Internationale de Ravitallement for purchases outside of the United States out of British credits will be dealt with in accordance with financial agreements between the British and other Allied Governments.

Applications put forward for purchases in the United States

will be immediately referred by the Commission Internationale de Ravitallement to the Inter-Allied Council.

5. The Governments of Belgium, Serbia, Romania, Portugal and Montenegro shall have the right to present the requirements in respect of supplies to be financed by the United States Government and to make representations in connection therewith jointly or severally to the Inter-Allied Council using their delegations on the Commission Internationale de Ravitallement for this purpose.

6. Recommendations of the Council and results of their discussions shall be transmitted to the United States Government by the American representative.

In the event of its being found impossible for any reason to meet the whole of the Allied requirements in the United States, the Inter-Allied Council will prepare a reduced programme for the approval of the respective Governments and after having obtained agreement will submit it to the United States Government through the American Representative together with a statement as to the relative urgency of the various items contained therein.”

The French Minister of Munitions5 has been approached informally and asked to send representatives to England who will be authorized to approve the scheme; the Italian and Russian Governments are being approached unofficially. It is hoped to obtain the approval of the general principle by France and Italy before July 7th, if not by Russia.

His Majesty’s Ambassador6 has received instructions to inform the United States Government of the stage which negotiations have reached and to submit to them the desirability of considering the appointment of their Representative. It is also suggested that they might advantageously inform the Italian and Russian Missions in the United States of what is being done indicating that it would be convenient to the United States Government if the Italian and Russian Governments were to fall in with the general proposal.

The Council should be as authoritative as possible. If the Allies favour the proposal it is hoped that a British Minister may be found to act as President. This point may help the United States Government in considering the type of Representative.

The Schedule mentioned above covers all articles dealt with by the Ministry of Munitions including all kinds of motor vehicles, aeroplane requirements, railway materials, also guns, ammunition and materials required by the Admiralty, but not ships or fuel oil.

Since the machinery for the collaboration of the Russian Government will probably not be established for some weeks and in view of the importance of avoiding complication of the tonnage situation by Russian requirements being dealt with in the United States without reference to arrangements already made, it is suggested that the United States Government should work in consultation with Lord Milner’s Committee7 in accordance with the semi-official proposals made by members of Mr. Balfour’s Mission.8 In the opinion of His Majesty’s Government the best way of doing this would be for the United States Government to appoint a liaison officer on the Committee who would report the proceedings to Washington and also if desired, refer matters from the United States for the opinion of the Committee. Such collaboration appears urgent in view of the competition which is already arising in railway material. Any such arrangement would presumably be superseded on the establishment of the Inter-Allied Council.

In submitting the above for the consideration of the United States Government, His Majesty’s Ambassador has the honour to request that he may be furnished with their views thereon in due course.


British Embassy,


July 2nd, 1917.

Source Note: DTS, DNA, RG 59, M367, Roll 44. This draft memorandum was enclosed in a letter from Second Secretary of State Alvey A. Adee to Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels requesting his opinion regarding the Inter-Allied War Council, 18 July 1917, Ibid.

Footnote 1: This refers to the British War Cabinet.

Footnote 2: The Inter-Allied Conference in November, 1917 formally created an Inter-Allied Munitions Council. However, it did not come into existence until the next summer. The Council was based out of Paris.

Footnote 3: See, Conference Schedule, 2 July 1917, DNA, RG 59. M367, Roll, 44.

Footnote 4: The International Commission for the Purchase of Supplies.

Footnote 5: Albert Thomas.

Footnote 6: Sir Cecil Spring Rice.

Footnote 7: Alfred Milner, First Viscount Milner. The committee mentioned here probably refers to Milner’s work overseeing the coal and food supplies in Britain. He was also a member of Prime Minister Lloyd George’s cabinet.

Footnote 8: British Foreign Secretary Arthur J. Balfour.

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