Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

 First Sea Lord Admiral Sir John R. Jellicoe to Commodore Guy R. Gaunt, British Naval Attaché at Washington

TELEGRAM.                                            No. <158>    

From      First Sea Lord.                                                                        Date 29/6/17.

To        Commodore Gaunt, Washington.

<158 From First Sea Lord (stop)>

Your 160.  I am convinced convoy system is a necessity and only method left to us (stop) Absence of cruisers and destroyers prevented earlier adoption and still presents great difficulties unless we can rely on help from U.S.A. in both classes of vessel (stop) System of partial convoy combined with system of partial patrols is very bad but unavoidable until complete convoy system is introduced (stop) Complete convoy system for all but very fast and very slow vessels is necessary and even these should be included in system when number of vessels permits (stop) This system however requires about 50 cruisers and 80 destroyers permanently earmarked for the work (stop) Cruisers absolutely necessary to keep convoy together up to rendezvous, practice them zig-zagging and maintain W/T communication1 with us so as to ensure destroyers meeting convoy (stop) We cannot start complete convoy system from even North America ports unless U.S.A. can guarantee 7 cruisers for weekly New York convoy and <constant use of> 11 destroyers this end <from the US force now at Queenstown (stop)> and to include ships from South American ports in system would necessitate guarantee of a second batch of 11 U.S.A. destroyers this end (stop) If Admiral Benson2 could undertake convoy from New York, both as regards cruisers and the eleven destroyers at this end, I should be most grateful and this would greatly relieve situation (stop) Convoys would be organised at once on hearing of his consent (stop).3



Source Note: Cy, UK-KeNA, Adm. 137/656. Below the close is written “1SL.” The portions in angle brackets are handwritten, usually as interlineations. Jellicoe’s initials at the bottom of the message and the date are also handwritten.

Footnote 1: That is, wireless telegraphic communication.

Footnote 2: Adm. William S. Benson, Chief of Naval Operations.

Footnote 3: For Benson’s response, see: Gaunt to Jellicoe, 1 July 1917.

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