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First Sea Lord Admiral Sir John R. Jellicoe to Rear Admiral Sir Dudley R.S. De Chair


From Admiralty [London]          Date 26: 4: 17. [26 April 1917]

To Naval Attaché. British Embassy1


For Rear Admiral De Chair from First Sea Lord.

You must emphasize most strongly to the United States authorities the very serious nature of the shipping position. We lost 55 British ships last week, <approximately 180,000 tons> and rate of loss is not diminishing.

     There is no immediate remedy possible except the use of many more patrole craft which we do not possess. Press most strongly that the number of Destroyers sent to Ireland should be increased to 24 at once if this number is available.

     Battle ships are not required but concentration on the vital question of defeat of Submarine menace is essential.

     Urge on the authorities that everything should give way to the Submarine menace and that by far the most important place on which to concentrate patrols is the S.W. of Ireland.2

     It would be a fatal step to disperse the U.S. Destroyers amongst different nations from every point of view.

     If the U.S. concentrate vessels on one route we can release ships to assist other Allies and the work would be much facilitated by all U.S. Vessels working together

     You must keep constantly before the U.S. authorities the great gravity of the situation and the need that exists for immediate action

     Our new methods3 will not be effective till July and the critical period is April to July.

Source Note: Cy, UK-KeNA, ADM 137/655. De Chair was part of the delegation headed by British Foreign Secretary Sir Arthur Balfour then visiting the United States. This copy is handwritten on a form that has “TELEGRAM No.” at the top of each of two pages. Also at the top of the first page is handwritten “1400” under the date and “Cypher.” “1400” is presumably the time, in military time, that the message was sent. About half way down the first page in the left margin is the stamp “COPIED.” At the end of the second page are scribbled initials, presumably to indicate to whom copies of this cable were sent. These initials are: “1SL only; [HHS?]; AK; HFO.” In order these are First Sea Lord Jellicoe; unidentified; Sir Arthur K. Wilson, a former First Sea Lord and advisor to the Admiralty on matters of strategy; Chief of Staff Director of Operations Division VAdm. Henry F. Oliver. The portion of the text in angle brackets were written as an interlineation in pencil.

Footnote 1: This cable was sent to the British Naval Attaché in Washington, Commo. Guy R. Gaunt, for delivery to De Chair.

Footnote 2: The American destroyers were based at Queenstown (Cobh), Ireland.

Footnote 3: The “new methods” were probably “a system of convoy” that Jellicoe discussed with De Chair in a cable of 27 April. See: Jellicoe to De Chair, 26 April 1917.