Volume #14 - 953.|
RELATIONS WITH THE UNITED STATES
DEFENCE COOPERATION AND SOVEREIGNTY IN THE ARCTIC
NORTHERN AMPHIBIOUS TRAINING AREA
Memorandum from Head, American and Far Eastern Division|
to Under-Secretary of State for External Affairs
April 14th, 1948|
At a meeting of the Cabinet Defence Committee to be held tomorrow the Secretary intends to make a brief report regarding the proposal of the U.S. Government to conduct amphibious training exercises in Newfoundland.33
2. I thought it would be useful for you to have the following background information:
(a) This question was first raised at a meeting of the P.J.B.D. in Dayton, Ohio, on May 21, 1947. The Board expressed the view that combined amphibious training exercises would be of great value and that as a first step in preparing for them, the two naval services should study the problem of locating the most suitable area.
(b) At the meeting of the Board in Toronto on November 20, 1947, the Canadian Naval Member reported that the two naval services had not succeeded in agreeing upon a suitable area. It was then recommended that an ad hoc committee should beset up consisting of representatives from the Canadian services, External Affairs and from the U.S. Navy.
(c)This ad hoc committee met in Ottawa and discussed three possible areas within Canadian territory: one near Churchill, one on the north shore of the St. Lawrence River, and the other on the south east shore of Anticosti Island. For various reasons none of these localities was entirely suitable. The U.S. Naval Member indicated that an area on the coast of Labrador would appear to be the most satisfactory. The Canadian representative at the meeting did not feel that they were in a position to discuss possible sites for Canadian participation in joint exercises in Newfoundland territory. At the same time they observed that the U.S. authorities were free to take up the matter with the Newfoundland Government if they wished to do so.
(d) The views of the ad hoc committee were reported to the meeting of the P.J.B.D. held on February 19. The U.S. Naval Member said he appreciated the Canadian position and that it would be taken into account when the matter was given further consideration by the U.S. authorities. The US. Naval Member did, however, undertake to keep the Canadian authorities informed.
(e) In fulfilment of this undertaking to keep us informed, Mr. Foster on March 25 wrote to me enclosing a copy of an instruction which had been sent to the U.S. Consul General at St. John's, Newfoundland. I attach a copy of the instruction. † It will be seen that the U.S. Consul General is to ask Newfoundland for permission to conduct a limited hydrographic and topographic survey of the coastal area of Labrador from Sandwich Bay to Brig Harbour Island with a view to selecting a suitable area for amphibious training. The Consul General is also to ask for permission to conduct amphibious training exercises in the area selected. The exercises which would probably be held in 1949 would involve the landing of troops and their maintenance ashore for periods up to a month, the use of artillery and the support of naval gun fire and air bombardment. The instruction to the Consul General specifically says, "The Canadian Government will not participate in the proposed exercises and the officer-in-charge may so inform the Newfoundland authorities if he considers it appropriate to do so."
3. I do not think that we should question the action which the U.S. is taking. As appears from the foregoing, the U.S. were anxious that we should cooperate with them in selecting an amphibious training area in Labrador. We refused to do this on political grounds and in effect said it would be in order for them to make their arrangements with Newfoundland.
4. When the political situation in Newfoundland clears we then might consider whether we should approach the U.S. and Newfoundland with a view to joining with the U.S. in the selection of an appropriate area and in the exercises themselves.
5. I have discussed this question with the British Commonwealth Division. They see no objection but suggest that the Department of National Defence might be interested in the following two or three points:
(a)The area in which the proposed exercises would take place is a section of the Labrador coast between Brig Harbour Island and Sandwich Bay. This section traverses the entrance to Hamilton Inlet. As the area is to be investigated with a view to establishing a cold weather amphibious training area, the question of possible interference with navigation in the approaches to Goose Bay probably does not arise. Perhaps, however, National Defence might wish to make sure of this point.
(b)The Department of National Defence might also wish to consider whether there was any objection to the approaches to Goose Bay being turned into an amphibious training area and of the likelihood of the terrain being severely damaged.
(c) That the Canadian Government does not maintain any installations in the area likely to be selected.