Commodore Guy R. Gaunt, British Naval Attaché at Washington, to First Sea Lord Admiral Sir John R. Jellicoe
TELEGRAM. No. 120.
From NVC Washington. Date 16.6.17.
To Admy. Sent 6 50 pm 15th
Recd 3 7 am 16th
120. Following for 1st SL. Personal.
After long discussion at Navy Dept the following is general situation as I see it.
Admiral Benson is very much against present system of patrolling the Atlantic both theirs, ours & French Squadron, his point being that when a raider is known to be out 6 (?or) 8 converted merchantmen should be sufficient to deal with situation. He is very keen on heavily armed merchant vessels & on my pointing out that reason our ships only carried one gun was because no more were available he promised (?talk to) (three groups corrupt) <He promised to consider whether he could arrange to> spare any more American guns.
At least 8 armed yachts will be ready to leave by July 1. Possibility of more.
(?Group corrupt) any objection to <Twelve trawlers> carrying 2 – 3” guns, speed 10 to 12 knots are supposed to be ready about Aug 1 but I think this will be very much advanced. In addition to this there should be 8 other destroyers at present on a special service which may be expected in England shortly. This about completes all vessels in sight until requisitioning bill gets through Congress.
Admiral Benson’s comment on Admiral Sims’ telegram with reference to flotilla being taken from its base to meet troop ships was that at outset it shall not take them more than 72 hours & part of that time they would be on their boat. Admiral Benson has entirely changed his pre-war views & is very keen to do everything in his power. (Repetition of corrupt groups called for)
Source Note: Cy, UK-KeNA, Adm. 137/656. In a cable sent later that day, Gaunt asked that he be given “an address” to which he could send cables “which, while distinctly official, are my personal views of conditions and prospects here. But I should not like Admiral Sims or any one to convey their substance back for instance in my 120 giving Admiral Benson’s views he did not intend probably that they should be conveyed officially to you but I thought it was useful to you to know exactly what his views are.” Gaunt added that he had addressed his cable 120 as “personal” to Jellicoe and unless told otherwise would continue to “use that address for this class” of cables. On 20 June, Gaunt again addressed this “back channel” communication, writing that Benson wanted it understood that anything he said via this channel was not to be considered criticism. In a draft of a reply written on a copy of Gaunt’s cable, Jellicoe wrote that he understood and that he found the communication of “much value.”