Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Diary of Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels

1917                         MONDAY 2                      JULY

Naval officer from Italy called and talked interestingly about aeroplanes1_Said his country had the largest in the world and one would arrive shortly and he would fly to W2 from New York

Lord Northcliffe3 called & had a special telegram from Lloyd George4: “Must have 200,000 tons of oil Situation most serious and lack of tonnage required to bring the oil fuel here from U.S. threatens to lead to immobilization of the Fleet.In fact mobilization will be stopped unless the 200,000 tons referred to are not received by the end of August, and even then a further 100,000 tons will be essential before the end of September. Please do everything possible to secure this supply, since failure to do so will render our naval supremacy itself insecure and will create a position of the utmost danger. I presume that what is needed is strong executive action in the commandeering of American tonnage, which the trading interests concerned appear to be reluctant to divert. I leave this matter, which is quite apart from the general question of the control of oil tonnage and the International Oil Board, entirely in your hands and rely on you to see it through”.5 I promised to take action & put Benson6 to work to find tankage.

Went to the theater with boys. Pouring rain.

Source Note: D, DLC-MSS, Josephus Daniels Papers, Diary, Roll 1.

Footnote 1: Italy was the first nation to use airpower in war, striking against Libya in 1911. It made dramatic strides in aerial warfare after joining the Allies in 1915, and later in the summer of 1917 the American Bolling Commission reported that Italy surpassed all other nations in effective use of airpower. Morrow, The Great War in the Air: 24-25, 262-265.

Footnote 2: Washington, D. C.

Footnote 3: Alfred C. W. Harmsworth, Viscount Northcliffe, Chairman of the British War Mission to the United States.

Footnote 4: British Prime Minister David Lloyd George.

Footnote 5: Oil shortages were a constant concern for the Allies. See, for example: Sims to Daniels, 14 April 1917; Sayles to Daniels, 22 May 1917; Grady to Benson, 6 June 1917; and Sims to Daniels, 14 June 1917.

Footnote 6: Adm. William S. Benson, Chief of Naval Operations.

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