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Vice Admiral William S. Sims, Commander, United States Naval Forces Operating in European Waters, to the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations

  CABLEGRAM SENT              2 February 1918     RES

To   Opnav Washington.                    Serial No. 3558

27 ARD.


3558.     The spirit of the civil population in Great Britain is such that it is not prepared to stand great privation nor the threat of great privation. The prospect of food shortage is highly dangerous. I have the gravest fears of defeat of the Allies from this cause unless heroic measures are taken to get food into England. I recommend that the United States Government immediately devote every ton of available carrying capacity not now engaged in overseas trade to shipping food stuffs to England. This would include Navy colliers and other vessels of Atlantic Fleet Train.1 19502.


Source Note: Cy, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517B.

Footnote 1: According to historian Kathleen Burk the problem was not a shortage of tonnage but the total disruption of the railway system in the United States. To ease the crisis, Herbert Hoover, head of the United States Food Administration, agreed to release 300,000 tons of grain from the nation’s reserves to send to France and Italy. This gave time for the nation to get its railway system in order and the crisis eased. By June 1918 both Hoover and the British representative in America, Rufus D. Isaacs, Earl of Reading, could report that there would be plenty of food for the foreseeable future. Burt, Britain, America and the Sinews of War: 186-87.

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