Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Commodore Guy R. Gaunt, British Naval Attaché at Washington, D. C., to British Admiralty

            COPY OF TELEGRAM.         652         IN

From           Commodore Gaunt              DATE 7.2.18.

                   Washington.             SENT 11.35pm &

To--  Admiralty.                           RECD. 10.15 am.

Cypher H.

652.  Pog.  Admiral Benson1 discussed at length situation as regards Azores, Cape Verde and Canary Islands. The (group omitted) was not official in any way but I thought that you should know his views as the matter will probably come up again. When in Paris2 he asked Portuguese Prime Minister3 to allow Azores to be used as an American advanced base, landing sufficient troops and guns to maintain it. He could not get a definite reply then so on his return had matter taken up through diplomatic channels. Reply has been received that Portugal will land her own infantry. R A ?Dunn4 has already arrived at Azores with a few (?group omitted) and 7 inch guns.5 Admiral Benson thinks he has been allowed to land them. Admiral Benson is not at all satisfied with Portuguese answer and is seriously considering taking up matter again diplomaticallypressing that Great Britain should (group omitted) to bear to obtain permission for his scheme to be carried out.

Source Note: Cy, UK-KeNA, ADM 137/708. There is a distribution list following the text in columnar fashion: “1st L/Nav Sec/1st S L/D O D (F)/D I D/Head of M.” In order those are: First Lord of the Admiralty [Sir Eric C. Geddes]; Secretary of the Admiralty [Sir Oswyn A.R. Murray]; First Sea Lord [Adm. Sir Rosslyn E. Weymss]; Director Operations Division, Foreign [Capt. Charles P.R. Coode]; Director, Intelligence Division [RAdm. William R. Hall]; possibly, Head of Foreign Intelligence (Ml1c) Sir Mansfield G. Smith-Cumming.

Footnote 1: Adm. William S. Benson, Chief of Naval Operations.

Footnote 2: Benson was in Paris as part of a diplomatic mission from the United States in late November and early December 1917.

Footnote 3: Portugal had an interim Prime Minister, José Maria Mendes Ribeiro Norton de Matos, during the time Benson was in Paris. On 8 December 1917, Norton de Matos was replaced by Sidónio Paes, who was considered to be pro-German. It is not known which of these men Benson met with.

Footnote 4: RAdm. Herbert O. Dunn, who commanded the American detachment in the Azores.

Footnote 5: For more on these guns, see: Dunn to William S. Sims, 6 April 1918.

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