ROOSEVELT, Franklin D. Typed memorandum signed ("F.D.R.") as President, to Admiral Harold R. Stark (1880-1972) and General George C. Marshall (1880-1959), Washington, D.C., 4 March 1942. 1 page, 4to, (10½ x 8 in.), carbon typescript, White House stationery, with two neat punch holes in left margin. With a manuscript map traced in pencil, showing the North Pole, Alaska, the U.S.S.R., China and Japan. 1 page, 8vo (6¼ x 5½ in.), in fine condition.
AN IMPORTANT PRESIDENTIAL MEMORANDUM, THREE MONTHS AFTER PEARL HARBOR, SETTING THE STRATEGIC INITIATIVES FOR THE PACIFIC WAR
In the present memorandum, the Commander-in-Chief boldly outlines the campaign planned against Japan, three months after the devastating attack on Pearl Harbor. Writing to the Chief of Staff of the Army and the Chief of Naval Operations, FDR lays the foundation for the United States' entrance into conflict: "While there is no assurance of war between Russia and Japan this Spring, such a war is always a definite possibility. This possibility is enhanced if the Japanese are able to withdraw a relatively large number of troops and planes from the southwest Pacific area, leaving only a containing force there." In fact Soviet participation in the Far East was not delayed: at the Teheran conference in late 1943 with Churchill and Roosevelt, Stalin was given a promise that the Allies would open a second front in Europe, in return for a pledge by Stalin to participate against Japan after Hitler was defeated.
Roosevelt makes reference to the establishment of the Combined Chiefs of Staff for the coordination of Anglo-American strategy, a historic result of the Arcadia Conference held in Washington, D.C. with Winston Churchill from late 1941 to January 1942: "I think it would be a good thing if the United Staffs would hold one or two sessions in regard to the position of Great Britain and the United States in the event of such a war."
At roughly the same time Roosevelt was outlining his thoughts to Stark and Marshall, he had reached an agreement with Churchill that strategic responsibility for the Pacific theater would be delegated to the U.S. Joint Chiefs, while the British Chiefs would deal with the Mediterranean and Mideast, and the Combined Chiefs with the European theater. Roosevelt spells out his strategic ideas for the Pacific: "It should be studied, of course, from all angles, such as an offensive by the United Nations, starting from the southern area, thus compelling Japan to send more forces there; second, from the point of view of the use of Chinese territory by Russia and the United States to conduct various kinds of offensives against Japan; third, from the point of view of opening up the Aleutian Islands route to Kamchatka and Siberia; the latter would also include, during the Summer months, the possibility of sending supplies to the Russian forces by an even more northerly route--past Wrangel Island to the Arctic coast of Siberia and thence south." The geography of Roosevelt's strategy is graphically represented by the accompanying traced map.
The Allied Pacific strategy eventually adopted is consonant in a number of respects with Roosevelt's memorandum and featured a methodical island-hopping offensive from the Solomon Islands northward towards the Japanese mainland. China was supplied with arms and supplies by airlift from India. Russian aid against Japan, though, was not forthcoming, and it was only in the last days of the war that Russia finally declared war and pushed into Japanese-occupied Manchuria. This memorandum would have been among the last received by Stark while in the position of Chief of Naval Operations. Stark's tenure was so marred by the Pearl Harbor debacle and its investigation that after being stripped of his operational responsibilities, Stark resigned his command on 7 March 1942, just three days after the president outlined these important war strategies. (2)