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Admiral Ferdinand Jean Jacques de Bon, Chief of the French Naval Staff, to Commander Bernard A. de Blanpré, French Naval Attaché at Washington


Paris, June 13th 1917

The Secretary of the Navy1

To Captain de Blanpre

Naval Attaché, French Embassy, U.S.A.

     Following his mission to the United States, Admiral GRASSET2 has handed to me a report on the agreement reached by the French and British Admirals with the U. S. Navy Department, as a conclusion of the “Preliminary Conferences”.3

     Besides that, Admiral Chocheprat4 has explained to me, on his return to France, the agreement arrived at with the United States Admiralty with regard to the bases of an effective cooperation of the U. S. Navy in European Seas.

     I confirm you my telegram of April 15th by which I informed you that I entirely agree with the proposals stated in these conferences and my desire is that you express to the Admiralty my hearty thanks for the spontaneous aid given by the United States Navy.

     The arrival in the French waters of the s.s. JUPITER and NEPTUNE5 has placed at our disposal, for the naval aviation, a staff the sending of which I highly appreciate as also the sending of the guns which will be used without delay for the defensive armament of our fishing flotillas.

     In agreement with the resolutions adopted by the Navy Department with regard to the command of the patrol crafts which it is intended to send to France, I give the necessary instructions to hasten as much as possible, on the lines laid down, the organization of the two selected bases: BREST and the GIRONDE.

     As Admiral CHOCHEPRAT informed Admiral BENSON,6 I emphasize the great necessity to send over here at the earliest date, these patrol boats which will be used in connection with our own flotillas for the protection of the Shipping off the French coast.

     I instruct you to bring to Admiral Benson’s knowledge the fact that I have issued orders for the sending to the United States of the drawings and plans of our Mine Sweep together with one unit of it and that I am ready to welcome in French harbors special crews coming from America in order to be trained in the mine sweeping operations.

     In the same order of ideas, every new contrivance, device, etc... recommended by the United States Navy Department will always be accepted with marked attention by the French Navy, as, for instance, the unusually powerful aerial torpedo spoken of by Admiral BENSON to Admiral CHOCHEPRAT. My Department would see nothing but a great deal of advantages in that the experiments made with these contrivances be pursued.

     To end this letter, I instruct you to ask the Secretary of the Navy7 the aid of the U.S.Navy Yards to supply, to dock and to repair the French cruisers placed under the command of Admiral Grasset and of which the base is actually FORT DE FRANCE.8

(Signed) de BON Vice-Admiral,    

Chief of the General’s Staff of the Navy

Source Note: TDS, DNA, RG 45, Entry 520.

Footnote 1: This appears to be a somewhat dubious translation, as the letter is signed by de Bon. As an officer, de Bon’s title was much more closely related to that of the Chief of Naval Operations.

Footnote 2: VAdm. Maurice Ferdinand Albert Grasset, Commander, French West Indies Division.

Footnote 4: VAdm. Paul Louis Albert Chocheprat of the Supreme Naval Council and Commander of French Forces in the West Indies. Chocheprat and British Adm. Sir Montague E. Browning, Commander, North America and West Indies Station, both visited the U.S. in early April to begin coordinating allied naval strategy. See: Browning to Sir William Graham Greene, 13 April 1917.

Footnote 5: See, Blanpré to General Staff, 5 June 1917, DNA, RG 45, Entry 520.

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

Footnote 7: Josephus Daniels.

Footnote 8: A major city located on the French-held Caribbean island of Martinique.

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