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Major General Henry P. McCain, Adjutant General, United States Army, to Major General John J. Pershing, Commander, American Expeditionary Forces

British Tonnage Available in April and Later Months


Washington, D.C., April 3, 1918.

No. A-1036-R


     The following extract of a cablegram from the British Ministry of shipping to their representative in the United States1 is repeated for your information.

     We have informed war cabinet that in shipping provided by Great Britain we shall be able to embark in America in April some 60,000 men, Admiral Sims’2 estimate of carrying power of American troop fleet is 52,000 per month. In addition there is certain Dutch tonnage available for use by America and we are obtaining use of certain Italian tonnage. In total it is considered that 120,000 American troops can be embarked in April and, if anything, rather more in following months. In view of urgent military needs and Lord Reading has approached the President3 with the view of obtaining dispatch of 120,000 infantry per month to Europe between now and July, infantry and machine-gun units only. Men to be brigaded with British and French divisions on the same basis as in the case of six-division plan. This means using all troop carrying ships to carry American infantry without reference to recent controversies. The President agrees that all possible measures must be taken to insure maximum use of troop tonnage.

     This program would practically stop all shipments of artillery, technical units, service of rear, army, and corps troops. It is requested that you cable at once what arrangements, if any, you have made with British and French for the supply and maintenance and land transportation of the infantry and machine-gun units that are now being given preferential transportation as far as practicable in accordance with General Bliss’4 cable number 67. [March 28, 1918] Your attention is invited to my cable Number 40 [March 30, 1918]5 to General Bliss which was requested to be repeated promptly to you. Repeat promptly to General Bliss. March.


Source Note: Printed, United States Army in the World War, 1917-1919: Policy-Forming Documents of the American Expeditionary Forces (Washington DC: U.S. Army Center of Military History, 1989) Volume II: 278-279.

Footnote 1: Rufus D. Isaacs, Earl of Reading.

Footnote 2: VAdm. William S. Sims, Commander, United States Naval Forces Operating in European Waters.

Footnote 3: Woodrow Wilson.

Footnote 4: Maj. Gen. Tasker H. Bliss, Chief of Staff, United States Army, and American Permanent Military Representative, Supreme War Council.

Footnote 5: Neither of these documents have been found

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