The First Washington Conference, also known as the Arcadia Conference (ARCADIA was the code name used for the conference), was held in Washington, D.C., from December 22, 1941, to January 14, 1942.


On 7/8 December 1941, Japan invaded Thailand and attacked the British colonies of Malaya, Singapore, and Hong Kong as well as the United States military and naval bases in Hawaii, Wake Island, Guam, and the Philippines.[1][2][3]

On 8 December, the United Kingdom,[a][4] the United States,[b][5] Canada,[6] and the Netherlands[7] declared war on Japan, followed by China[8] and Australia[9] the next day. Four days after Pearl Harbor, Germany and Italy declared war on the United States, drawing the country into a two-theater war.


The conference brought together the top British and American military leaders, as well as Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt and their aides, in Washington from December 22, 1941, to January 14, 1942, and led to a series of major decisions that shaped the war effort in 1942–1943.

Arcadia was the first meeting on military strategy between Britain and the United States; it came two weeks after the American entry into World War II. The Arcadia Conference was a secret agreement unlike the much wider postwar plans given to the public as the Atlantic Charter, agreed between Churchill and Roosevelt in August 1941.

The main policy achievements of Arcadia included the decision for "Germany First" (or "Europe first"—that is, the defeat of Germany was the highest priority); the establishment of the Combined Chiefs of Staff, based in Washington, for approving the military decisions of both the US and Britain; the principle of unity of command of each theater under a supreme commander; drawing up measures to keep China in the war; limiting the reinforcements to be sent to the Pacific; and setting up a system for coordinating shipping. All the decisions were secret, except the conference drafted the Declaration by United Nations, which committed the Allies to make no separate peace with the enemy, and to employ full resources until victory.[10][11]

In immediate tactical terms, the decisions at Arcadia included an invasion of North Africa in 1942, sending American bombers to bases in England, and for the British to strengthen their forces in the Pacific. Arcadia created a unified American-British-Dutch-Australian Command (ABDA) in the Far East; the ABDA fared poorly. It was also agreed at the conference to combine military resources under one command in the European Theater of Operations (ETO).[12]


Heads of state/government
President of the United States, Franklin D. Roosevelt
Prime Minister of the United Kingdom, Winston Churchill
British officers
Admiral of the Fleet, Sir Dudley Pound, First Sea Lord and Chief of the Naval Staff
Field Marshal Sir John Dill - Chief of the Imperial General Staff (replaced as CIGS by Alan Brooke during conference)
Air Chief Marshal Sir Charles Portal, Chief of Air Staff
Admiral Sir Charles Little, Head of British Joint Staff Mission to USA
Lt. General Sir Colville Wemyss, Head of the British Army Mission to USA. Joint Staff Mission
Air Marshal Arthur Harris, Head of RAF delegation to the USA. Joint Staff Mission
U. S. Naval officers
Admiral H. R. Stark, Chief of Naval Operations
Admiral E. J. King, Commander-in-Chief, U. S. Fleet
Rear Admiral F. J. Horne, Assistant Chief of Naval Operations
Rear Admiral J. H. Towers, Chief, Bureau of Aeronautics
Rear Admiral R. K. Turner, Director, War Plans Division
Major General Thomas Holcomb, Commandant, U. S. Marine Corps
U. S. Army officers
General George C. Marshall, Commanding General of the Field Forces and Chief of Staff, U. S. Army
Lieut. General H. H. Arnold, Chief of the Army Air Forces and Deputy Chief of Staff, U. S. Army
Brigadier General L. T. Gerow, Chief of War Plans Division
Joint secretaries
Captain J. L. McCrea, Aide to Chief of Naval Operations
Lieut. Colonel P. M. Robinett, G-2, GHQ, U. S. Army
Major W. T. Secton, Assistant Secretary, W.D.G.S.

See also



  1. ^ Drea 1998, p. 26.
  2. ^ John Costello, The Pacific War: 1941–1945, Harper Perennial, 1982
  3. ^ Japan Economic Foundation, Journal of Japanese Trade & Industry, Volume 16, 1997
  4. ^ "Prime Minister's Declaration". UK Parliament. 8 December 1941. Archived from the original on 12 September 2014. Retrieved 3 May 2015.
  5. ^ "Declaration of War with Japan". United States Congress. 8 December 1941. Archived from the original on 26 September 2011.
  6. ^ "Canada Declares War on Japan". Inter-Allied Review. 15 December 1941. Archived from the original on 24 September 2015. Retrieved 8 April 2015 – via Pearl Harbor History Associates, Inc.
  7. ^ "The Kingdom of the Netherlands Declares War with Japan". Inter-Allied Review. 15 December 1941. Archived from the original on 14 January 2010. Retrieved 3 October 2009 – via Pearl Harbor History Associates Inc.
  8. ^ "China's Declaration of War Against Japan, Germany and Italy". Contemporary China. 1 (15). 15 December 1941. Archived from the original on 17 July 2011. Retrieved 10 September 2010.
  9. ^ "Australia Declares War on Japan". Inter-Allied Review. 15 December 1941. Archived from the original on 13 May 2008. Retrieved 3 October 2009 – via Pearl Harbor History Associates Inc.
  10. ^ William Hardy McNeill, America, Britain and Russia: Their Cooperation and Conflict 1941-1946 (1953) pp 90-118
  11. ^ Andrew Roberts, Masters and Commanders: How Four Titans Won the War in the West, 1941-1945 (2010) pp 86-87.
  12. ^ Powaski, Ronald E. (1991). Toward an entangling alliance : American isolationism, internationalism, and Europe, 1901-1950. Greenwood Press. pp. 112–14. ISBN 9780313272745.

Primary sources

Further reading