Memorandum of Conversation, by the Chief of the Division of European Affairs (Moffat)
At Mr. Welles’s request, I asked Mr. Merchant Mahoney, the Canadian Chargé d’Affaires, to call in order to discuss with him the question of facilitating the training of Canadian pilots in American Governmental schools and airfields which Mr. Mahoney had raised with the Under Secretary on May 27.
I told Mr. Mahoney that the problem had been considered very carefully and sympathetically by the Secretary of State, the Under Secretary, the Chief of Staff, and others. The conclusions reached were that the apprehensions felt by Mr. Welles in his talk of May 27 were well founded. These apprehensions rested on two grounds, a practical one and a legal one.
As a practical matter, a project of training Canadian pilots in this country on a large scale obviously could not be carried on concurrently with a similar training program for our own air corps which contemplates using Army and Navy civilian facilities and personnel to the maximum. Apparently, the bottleneck is flying instructors and, to a lesser degree, training planes. Already in order to turn out the number of pilots we consider essential in 1941 and 1942 we are using as instructors all Army instructors, all qualified officers now in the Training Center and civilian schools, all qualified officers who could be made available by the suspension of miscellaneous activities, qualified civilian instructors, et cetera. Thus, any large-scale plan of training Canadian pilots would retard the work being done for us at the Training Centers, and the lack of additional flying instructors prevents the use of other military flying fields for training schools.
With regard to legal considerations, the legal advisers of the competent Government departments have held that if the pilots were members of the Canadian military or naval forces they could not be trained in this country without a violation of The Hague Convention No. V,13 nor, in their opinion, could such training be legalized short of amendment or denunciation of this international treaty. This, of course, would not apply to Canadian civilians, particularly if they came to this country for training without advance arrangement between Governments calling for such admissions in specific numbers or groups with a definite view of their later employment in a belligerent army; but the Chief of Staff has added that even these civilians could not be accepted as students at the Air Corps Training [Page 9] Centers without additional statutory authority (see Act of April 3, 193914).
The conclusion reached by our military authorities, in which other Government officials concurred, was that irrespective of legal restrictions, the diversion of any considerable pilot production to the training of Canadian pilots would disrupt our own training program and would seriously delay bringing our own air defenses into a satisfactory state of readiness. It was therefore hoped that the Canadian authorities would choose not to press this particular request.
Mr. Mahoney stated that there seemed to be a slight difference of emphasis between the Canadian request and our reply. The Canadian request merely referred to “a number of aviators” to be trained, whereas our reply was based on a large-scale training project which he personally doubted was the case. The other shift in emphasis was that whereas the Canadian request had referred to “civilian training schools”, our reply referred to Army Training Centers. I told Mr. Mahoney that as I understood matters, the Training Centers were taking over all instructors and that there would be no civilian schools in the future.
Mr. Mahoney said that he would bring the information at once to the attention of Ottawa.