Military Relations between the United States and Canada, 1939-1945

By Stanley W. Dziuban | Go to book overview

CHAPTER VI

Hemisphere Defense Problems

The Ogdensburg Declaration directed the Permanent Joint Board on Defense to make studies of the military problems involved in "the defense of the north half of the Western Hemisphere," As has been pointed out, a strict interpretation of this phrase would have resulted in planning embracing Central America, the Caribbean area, and South America to approximately the Amazon River. But in practice the Permanent Joint Board declined to take cognizance of the defense problems of any of Latin America and of much of the United States. Its studies were in fact limited to about that part of North America, excluding Greenland, north of a line through New York City and Portland, Oregon. Common military problems in other parts of the Western Hemisphere were discussed and acted upon in other forums and through other channels.

In the U.S.-Canadian diplomatic discussions soon after the fall of France but long before the United States entered the war as a formal belligerent, Prime Minister King took up with U.S. Minister Moffat the need to prevent Germany from establishing bases in Greenland, Iceland, and the West Indies and the possibility that U.S. action might be desirable. Canada had already, as a consequence of the disastrous events of May 1940, sent forces to Iceland and an infantry battalion, the Winnipeg Grenadiers, to Jamaica. At the time of these discussions the United Kingdom was pressing for more Canadian troops to reinforce Iceland and to replace the British troops that had been sent to the Dutch oil-refining island of Aruba, off the coast of Venezuela. King was dubious about the latter action and proceeded to clear it with Washington, but he was even more concerned about the idea of sending so much of Canada's military strength out of Canada. Nevertheless, in accordance with the United Kingdom request, King was at first prepared to send troops to Aruba by transferring the Canadian battalion from Jamaica.1

On 5 July Moffat, who had just returned from Washington, reported to King on the Aruba matter. The United States, he said, was developing a method for establishing trusteeships over territories in the Western Hemisphere that might be threatened with transfer from one non-American state

____________________
1
Memo/Conv, Moffat and King, 27 Jun 40, Moffat Diary; Cdn Leg aide-mémoire, 28 Jun 40, D/S 856B.01/43.

-142-

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