Primary Documents - Georges Clemenceau, Vittorio Orlando and David Lloyd George's Call for Additional U.S. Forces, 1-2 June 1918

French Prime Minister Georges Clemenceau In the wake of the initially spectacular success experienced by the German Army during their Spring Offensive, European calls for a rapid boost in the number of fighting U.S. troops increased.  Requests were also urgently issued for U.S. troops to serve alongside European troops, in particular infantry and machine-gun units, where the German Army was believed to possess a critical numerical superiority.

The text below reproduces the text of the urgent telegram despatched by the Prime Ministers of France, Italy and Britain to President Woodrow Wilson in the opening days of June 1918, pressing the requirement for additional troops.

Click here to U.S. Commander-in-Chief General John Pershing's account of the Allied calls for extra troops and for short-term inter-army integration.

Georges Clemenceau, Vittorio Orlando and David Lloyd George's Appeal for Additional U.S. Forces, 1-2 June 1918

The Prime Ministers of France, Italy, and Great Britain, now meeting at Versailles, desire to send the following message to the President of the United States:

We desire to express our warmest thanks to President Wilson for the remarkable promptness with which American aid, in excess of what at one time seemed practicable, has been rendered to the Allies during the past month to meet a great emergency.

The crisis, however, still continues.  General Foch has presented to us a statement of the utmost gravity, which points out that the numerical superiority of the enemy in France, where 162 Allied divisions now oppose 200 German divisions, is very heavy, and that, as there is no possibility of the British and French increasing the number of their divisions (on the contrary, they are put to extreme straits to keep them up) there is a great danger of the war being lost unless the numerical inferiority of the Allies can be remedied as rapidly as possible by the advent of American troops.

He, therefore, urges with the utmost insistence that the maximum possible number of infantry and machine gunners, in which respect the shortage of men on the side of the Allies is most marked, should continue to be shipped from America in the months of June and July to avert the immediate danger of an Allied defeat in the present campaign owing to the Allied reserves being exhausted before those of the enemy.

In addition to this, and looking to the future, he represents that it is impossible to foresee ultimate victory in the war unless America is able to provide such an Army as will enable the Allies ultimately to establish numerical superiority.  He places the total American force required for this at no less than 100 divisions, and urges the continuous raising of fresh American levies, which, in his opinion, should not be less than 300,000 a month, with a view to establishing a total American force of 100 divisions at as early a date as this can possibly be done.

We are satisfied that General Foch, who is conducting the present campaign with consummate ability, and on whose military judgment we continue to place the most absolute reliance, is not overestimating the needs of the case, and we feel confident that the Government of the United States will do everything that can be done, both to meet the needs of the immediate situation and to proceed with the continuous raising of fresh levies, calculated to provide, as soon as possible, the numerical superiority which the Commander-in-Chief of the Allied Armies regards as essential to ultimate victory.

A separate telegram contains the arrangements which General Foch, General Pershing, and Lord Milner have agreed to recommend to the United States Government with regard to the dispatch of American troops for the months of June and July.

Source: Source Records of the Great War, Vol. VI, ed. Charles F. Horne, National Alumni 1923

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