Diary of Rear Admiral Albert Gleaves, Commander, Destroyer Force
Sunday Apr 22 1917
. . . Dick White dined with me to night. He was aide to Adm. De Grassett and is most interesting.1 Says the most salient points of the Conference was the gaucheries of our representatives. For instance they were kept waiting at the Sectys2 office while he interviewed Newspaper men. Then during the presentation he would stop to sign papers. That B—3 went to Franklin R’s4 dinner in a sack coat also backed his car in to the French car & broke the latters lamps [i.e., headlights].
When McAdoo5 asked the French Admiral if he could go down to Annapolis & board the Jeanne d’Arc6 the Admiral asked him to luncheon[,] said would send his Flag lieut down to receive him and then asked White to have McA. take him down in his car, but Mc “didn’t have room”. The Flag Lt is Hennessy,7 a very rich man. He hired a car, and gave the Chauffeur $40 to beat McAdoo’s car, which he did.
Thinks the English Vice Admiral Browning put it all over Benson and had his own way– B- had none of his aides to help him, wouldn’t allow any of them in the Conference; the English & French had all of theirs. B. came down to Old Pt8 without any aides, & in plain clothes. White thought the whole thing pathetic for us.
The Englishman came to the Conference with paper in hand & notes, knew just what he wanted and insisted – diplomatically on his wants. B- said almost nothing only pulled his moustache continuously, and yielded everything. White says he was much disappointed in B— There were no formalities, and the Conferences were held for the most part in office of Operations, and near a General Board Room- All wore plain clothes. The only thing B— said was that he held himself personally responsible for the unhindered output of oil from Mexico!!!! Some job that, & must have caused the Englishman to smile.
The French & English had nothing to do with each other & kept separate Lt Comdr Steele9 who was supposed to aide to English Admiral was entirely cut out by Commo Gaunt10 and finally returned to his ship. As he had no card to the Met. Club,11 he was simply not in it.
Source Note: D, DLC-MSS, Albert Gleaves Diary.
Footnote 1: Lt. Cmdr. Richard D. White, an American naval officer assigned to assist VAdm. Maurice Ferdinand Albert Grasset during the conference between Grasset, Adm. Montague E. Browning, and American naval leaders. For more on the conference, see: Browning to William Graham Greene, 13 April 1917.
Footnote 2: Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels.
Footnote 3: Adm. William S. Benson, Chief of Naval Operations.
Footnote 4: Assistant Secretary of the Navy Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Footnote 5: Secretary of the Treasury William G. McAdoo, who was also President Woodrow Wilson’s son-in-law.
Footnote 6: Grasset’s flagship.
Footnote 7: Lt. J. Hennessy, an officer in the U.S. Navy Reserves.
Footnote 8: Old Point Comfort, VA.
Footnote 9: Lt. Cmdr. George W. Steele, Jr.
Footnote 10: British Naval Attaché at Washington Commo. Guy R. Gaunt.
Footnote 11: Presumably, the Metropolitan Club of Washington. It was a private club.