Foreign Secretary Arthur J. Balfour to Under-Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs Lord Robert Cecil
CIRCULATED TO THE KING AND THE WAR CABINET
Decypher of telegram from Mr. Balfour to Lord R. Cecil.
R. 11 a.m. June 3rd.1917.
Personal and Secret.
Sir C. Spring Rice has had conversation with Colonel House on various matters. Following is a summary of latter’s views.
If British Government wish to get special naval and military officers to help United States Government best plan would be to offer to invite United States officers to London to serve as special representatives of War and Navy Departments and at the same time to offer to send corresponding officers here; the thinks matter should be arranged with Navy and War Departments and not through President. It would be safer not to offer to send special officers here unless Departments concerned express willingness. He thinks British Government is in quite special position here and should not conclude that because French Government could safely send man like Tardieu we could do the same. Position is in high degree delicate and only great tact and skill of Mr. Balfour and Mission has prevented energetic press campaign against an “English War” – President is very sensitive on this point – Danger is that this essential difference between French and British position here may not be understood in England. Should His Majesty’s Government send anyone corresponding in position to Tardieu his activities should be strictly limited to control over British officers here. Even this should be done in an inconspicuous way and the less prominent the (?place) the better. House thinks present arrangement with Sir R. Crawford and Polk acts admirably but said he understands that public opinion in England may demand something more positive. But position of a prominent person here would be so unpleasant owing to probability of press attacks and necessary aloofness of United States Government that he would probably soon return home.
Source Note: Cy, UK-KeNA, Adm. 137/1436. On an attached page is a note written by the director of the Admiralty’s Intelligence Division, Capt. William R. Hall, that reads: “In my opinion the safest course for us to pursue with regard to sending officers to America would be to increase Commodore Gaunt’s Staff by sending officers junior to him. He holds a unique position and I do not think that the fact of attaching officers to him would cause any comment in the American press. Admiral Sims is already proposing to increase his Staff over here, so that there should be no difficulty, if desired, in sending a few officers to assist Commodore Gaunt.”