Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

State Department to United States Ambassador to the United Kingdom Walter Hines Page

 

[30 July 1917]

COPY DISPATCH TO AMBASSADOR LONDON

MEMORANDUM

     In order to ensure an effective correlation of censorship to keep naval and military information from the enemy and to protect the lives of soldiers and sailors of the United States, the Ambassador under instructions from the Department of State has requested the British Government to inform their censorship officials that our Government considers that matters enumerated in the following categories should not be made public, and has asked their assistance in preventing their publication in the newspapers of this country and their transmission by cable or other means to the United States or to other countries:—

     1. Information tending directly or indirectly to disclose the numbers or identity of troops in the United States Expeditionary Forces.

     2. Reference to individual units or to the names of officers of the line. Names of Staff Officers only should be mentioned in news despatches.

     3. Information calculated to disclose the position of the permanent base or bases of United States Forces.

     4. Information calculated to disclose the eventual position of United States Forces in the firing line.

     5. Information of the arrival of United States war vessels, transports, or of any portion of an expeditionary force at any European port until such announcement is authorized by the Secretary of War or the Secretary of the Navy1 of the United States.2

     6. Information that would disclose the departure of transports for the United States from any European port.

     7. Information of the identities of American merchant ships defending themselves against submarines and of their captains and crews.

     8. Information of the departure from port of American merchantmen.

     The only exception to the above is in respect of matter censored and passed by the American military censors with the United States Army in the field.

London July 30th, 1917.

Source Note: Cy, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517B. The date, printed at the bottom of the page, is almost certainly the date it was delivered, not the date it was written. There is no indication of the sender in the original cable, but someone later wrote “From: Dept. of State” on this copy.

Footnote 1: Secretary of War Newton D. Baker and Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels.

Footnote 2: The British Admiralty released a report to their press on the arrival of the first American destroyers in May. At the time, U.S. newspapers had already voluntarily agreed not to publish ship movements, and according to Daniels many newspapermen were “all hot” about the restrictions on what they could report. Daniels, Cabinet Diaries: 149, 153.

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