Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Vice Admiral William S. Sims, Commander, United States Naval Forces Operating in European Waters, to the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations

Information Copy.

                   CABLEGRAM SENT          Nov, 14, 1917.

To   Opnav, Washington                 Serial No. 1457.

Via       NCB 25 ADR              Prepared by WDN    APPD.BY

File No. 55/1/a.

     Copy sent Colonel House1 by Office Messenger.

VERY SECRET

1457. For President and Secretary of State2 from Colonel House quote Decisions of a Conference of representatives of the British, French and Italian Governments assembled at Rapallo on November 7th, 1917.3

     (1)  The representatives of the British French and Italian Governments assembled at Rapallo on November 7th 1917 have agreed on the scheme for the organization of a Supreme War Council with a Permanent Military representative from each Power, contained in the following paragraph. Scheme of organization of a supreme War Council.

     (2)  1. With a view to the better co-ordination of military action on the Western front a Supreme War Council is created composed of the Prime Minister and a Member of the Government of each of the Great Powers whose armies are fighting on that front.4 The extension of the scope of the Council to other fronts is reserved for discussion with the other Great Powers.

     2.   The Supreme War Council has for its mission to watch over the general conduct of the War. It prepares recommendations for the decision of the Governments and keeps itself informed of their execution and reports thereon to the respective Governments.

     3.   The General Staffs and Military Commands of the Armies of each Power charged with the conduct of military operations remain responsible to their respective Governments.

     4.   The general war plans drawn up by the competent military authorities are submitted to the Supreme War Council which under the high authority of the Governments assure their concordance and submits if need be any necessary changes.

     5.   Each Power delegates to the Supreme War Council one Permanent Military Representative whose exclusive function is to act as technical adviser to the Council.

     6.   The Military representatives receive from the Government and the competent military authorities of their country all proposals information and documents relating to the conduct of the war.

     7.   The Military Representatives watch day by day the situation of the forces and of the means of all kinds of which the Allied Armies and the enemy armies dispose.

     8.   The Supreme War Council meets normally at Versailles where the Permanent Military Representatives and their Staffs are established. They may meet at other places as may be agreed upon according to circumstances. The Meetings of the Supreme War Council will take place at least once a month.

     (3)  The Permanent Military Representatives will be as follows: For France General Foch, for Great Britain General Henry Wilson, For Italy General Cadorna. Edward House. Unquote.

SIMS.

Source Note: Cy, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517B.

Footnote 1: Edward M. House, personal advisor and confidante to President Woodrow Wilson. House was in London at this time as the head of a diplomatic mission that came to be known as the House Mission. Adm. William S. Benson, Chief of Naval Operations, represented the Navy as a member of this commission.

Footnote 2: Robert M. Lansing.

Footnote 3: The Rapallo Conference was convened by the Allied powers on 5 November, in response to their defeat at the hands of German and Austro-Hungarian forces at the Battle of Caporetto. As the remainder of this cable shows, the conference resolved to form at Supreme War Council at Versailles to coordinate allied plans and actions. Japan and Russia were not included on this council, largely because Italy and France desired that the council’s scope be limited to only the Western Front. Each Allied nation would appoint a senior military officer as Permanent Military Representative to sit on the Supreme War Council. The French named Gen. Ferdinand Foch its Permanent Military Representative, Gen. Sir Henry Hughes Wilson represented the British, Gen. Luigi Cadorna the Italians, and the United States named Gen. Tasker H. Bliss its PMR.

Footnote 4: As an Associated Power, the United States did not participate in the political organization aspects of the Council.

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