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Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

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

TELEGRAM                      No.

From   Admy. [London]                   Date 27.4.17.

To     NA Washington.                   Sent 1426.

'P' Cypher

From 1st Sea Lord to Admiral de Chair. 

     The situation shows no improvement.1

     I am organising a system of convoy for all inward & outward trade.2

     The arrangements will probably be that a cruiser will escort a convoy of about 20 merchant ships to positions westward of Ireland clear of submarine activity where convoy will be met & escorted to port by destroyers. But the system necessitates first a considerable increase in number of destroyers & therefore the assistance of USA in provision of as many more as possible is very urgently needed.

1st SL        


Source Note: Cy, UK-KeNA, Adm. 137/655.

Footnote 1: The “situation” was the loss of British merchant ships to German submarines.

Footnote 2: The day before this message, Jellicoe was positing that the only solution to the submarine menace was increased anti-submarine patrols and made no mention of convoying. Ibid. Why the British took so long to use a convoy system has been much-discussed by historians, as has the question of who was responsible for its adoption at this time. For a discussion, see, Anglo-American Naval Relations: 195-98.

Footnote 3: That is, Chief of Staff. The Chief of Staff was VAdm. Sir Henry F. Oliver.