Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Admiral William S. Benson, Chief of Naval Operations, to Vice Admiral William S. Sims, Commander, United States Naval Forces Operating in European Waters

CABLEGRAM RECEIVED  20118 1918.    HJK

<January 17, 1918.>

25 1-15       

Origin Opnav Washington (Secnav)1

27 ADR

VERY SECRET.

Simasdus.

2243.     Your 2921 and our 1417 and 21172 Following topic which it is desired you take up directly at the Allied Conference. Our Ambassador to Brazil3 who is in complete touch with situation, very desirous that some evident signs of cooperation between Brazil and United States bemanifested. Our attitude with respect to South American countries is so definitely established that United States is earnestly desirous of increasing friendly relations and as evidence of this desire have agreed to send several naval officers to instruct officers of Brazilian Navy. We are therefore extremely anxious that no step should be taken which tend to affect excellent relations now existing with any one of these countries. For this reason request was extended to British that their force cooperate with us in European Waters. It is believed that by continuing present policy of impressing upon these countries the inter dependency of North South friendly relations will be fostered and chance of their remaining permanent greatly increased. We also feel strongly that by pursuing this course resources of South America can be of much greater us toallies than by any other course. If matter is handled as indicated in your 2921, no matter how well meaning the British invitation may be, we feel that United States influence may be impaired. If, therefore, arrangements can be made by State Department whereby Brazil asks to cooperate directly with our forces abroad, take up question at Council of Brazilian forces operating first from Azores Islands and second moving to the west coast of France from there. This latter move can be recommended in view of increasing number of troops we are constantly sending to the other side.4 01017

Benson.       

Source Note: Cy, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517B.

Footnote 1: Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels.

Footnote 2: Documents referred to have not been found.

Footnote 3: United States Ambassador to Brazil Edwin V. Morgan.

Footnote 4: The American desire did not go unchallenged. The Italians wanted the Brazilians to operate in the Mediterranean, the French wanted them to protect traffic from South America to Europe along the African coast between Dakar and Gibraltar, a role that the Allied Naval Council appeared to favor. In the end, delays in making their ships (two scout cruisers and four destroyers) ready for sea and then illness among the Brazilian crews once they arrived at Freetown, Sierra Leone, meant that the Brazilian force did not arrive at Gibraltar until a few days before the war ended. Halpern, A Naval History of World War I: 395.

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