Skip to main content

Captain Arthur MacArthur, III, Commander, Chattanooga to Captain Edwin A. Anderson, Commander, Third Squadron, Patrol Force

A.MA/B.                           U. S. S. CHATTANOOGA,   

2264-17.                              28 May, 1917.


From:     Commanding Officer.

To:       Commander, Third Squadron, Patrol Force.

Subject:  British General Staff (naval), Kingston, Jamaica and recommendation that this squadron establish method for an interchange of information.

1.   Kingston, Jamaica is the headquarters of a branch of the British Naval General Staff. The General Staff Officer in charge is Major E.T.N. Farmer, R.M.L.I.1 He was formerly a member of the General Naval Staff at Malta and was sent from there to organize the Kingston branch.

2.   Kingston is also the headquarters of a branch of the British Naval Control Office. The function of this organization is to examine neutral shipping. Lieutenant H. C. Arnold-Forster, Royal Navy, is Naval Control Officer. He previously was at the Admiralty in London on the same work.

3.   Major Farmer’s organization is the clearing house of all naval information from ports on the Gulf of Mexico, Caribbean Sea, West Indies, and South American Coast as far as Pernambuco [Brazil], movement of British men-of-war in the Western North Atlantic and French information from the French Admiral at Martinique. All information from these points is sent to him by the various collecting agencies at the disposal of the British government. The Kingston organization then distributes as necessary to the British Admiral on this station (Rear Admiral Browning2) to the French Admiral (Rear Admiral Grasset3) at Martinique or to the Admiralty in London.

When Admiral Grasset is away from Fort de France a part of the French Naval Staff is left there to handle the information and also to supply the French information. In addition to distributing information the Kingston organization routes all allied merchant vessels from this area including American that touch Kingston. Where ships do not touch at Kingston, Major Farmer gives his orders through British Consuls at the various ports. To aid in this the British are making naval officers vice consuls at various important points. Major Farmer spoke of them as Naval Consuls: New Orleans is to have one shortly I understand.

All British merchant ships passing into the Pacific from the Atlantic via the Panama Canal stop at Kingston to disarm and vice versa all ships passing into the Atlantic from the Pacific via the Canal stop at Kingston to arm. This is done to economize in guns and gun crews.

          In the case of important cargoes for England, such as nitrates from Chile, ships are not only routed but given a rendezvous to meet escorts and the Admiralty then informed, who arranges for the escort.

     4.   Major Farmer is most anxious that at the earliest moment communication be established between his organization and the U.S. Forces in his area, as well as the French Forces. A mutual exchange of information would then be available that would be most valuable to the Third and Fourth Squadron of the Patrol Force.

          I cannot too strongly recommend this.

          The Commandant, Naval Station, Guantanamo4 would be the logical clearing house for our Forces. To accomplish the mutual exchange would be very simple in the following manner:

Supply Guantanamo with the A.F.R.Code, Kingston already has it, as has Martinique.

Supply Kingston with our Service Radio Code 1914 which he has not yet received – Martinique has it.

This gives the instrument for communication.

          Authorize Kingston and Martinique to send all information to Guantanamo, there to be distributed to the Commander Third and Fourth Squadrons5 and Washington.

          Have Commanders Third and Fourth Squadrons and Washington give information concerning this area to Guantanamo for distribution to Kingston and Martinique.

          Guantanamo would have to be kept informed of the whereabouts of the Commander Third and Fourth Squadrons in order to use cable for communication.


Arthur MacArthur

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Source Note: TLS, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517.

Footnote 1: Royal Marine Light Infantry.

Footnote 2: VAdm. Sir Montague Browning, Commander-in-Chief North America and West Indies Station.

Footnote 3: VAdm. Maurice Ferdinand Albert Grasset, commander of the French West Indies Division.

Footnote 4: Commander Dudley W. Knox.

Footnote 5: The Commander of the Fourth Squadron, Patrol Force (Gulf Patrol) was Marbury Johnston.