Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

General Staff Office, Jamaica, to British Admiralty

COPY OF TELEGRAM

56  

From G.S.O. Jamaica1                        Date 22.3.17

To- Admiralty                               Sent

                                             Recd. 1.15 a.m.

L2

55  From Belize. U.S. WHEELING left 18th.March looking for submarine bases on Mexican coast.3

Repeated to C.in C.4 French Admiral.5

Source Note: CCy, UK-KeNA, Adm. 137/1437. Below the message is the initials “DOH,” which presumably is the name of the decoder. In a column along the left margin is a list of those to whom it was routed: “First Lord[;] 1st S.L.[;] Sir A.K.Wilson[;] D.C. 2[;] D.I.D. 2.” These were in order: First Lord of the Admiralty Sir Edward H. Carson; First Sea Lord Sir John R. Jellicoe; Sir Arthur K. Wilson, a former First Sea Lord and advisor to the Admiralty on matters of strategy; Chief of Staff Director of Operations Division VAdm. Henry F. Oliver; Director, Intelligence Division Capt. William E. Hall.” The number “2” after the latter two presumably means they were sent two copies of the message.

Footnote 1: The identity of this General Staff Officer is not known.

Footnote 2: “L” indicates that British Admiralty Code L was used in transmitting this message.

Footnote 3: The U.S.S. WHEELING departed on its mission om 12 March 1917, sailing first from Trujillo, Honduras, to Cape Gracias a Dios and thence to Belize and Progresso, Honduras. The search proved to be fruitless. Edward Watson to Naval Operations, 14 March 1917; Edward Watson to Naval Operations, 22 March 1917, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517.

Footnote 4: VAdm. Sir Montague E. Browning, the British naval commander in chief in North America and the West Indies. On 23 March, Browning sent a cable to the Admiralty informing them that he had intended sending the Warrior to “examine Mexican ports” but now thought it better to “leave it entirely” to the U.S. Navy. He added: “Could it be put to them that they should also examine coast for possible raider and submarine bases in Central America and on North Coast of South America as far East as Gulf of Paria.” Ibid. On the same day the Admiralty replied that it was impossible to “approach” the U.S. government “officially on this subject yet.” Ibid. The Gulf of Paria is between Venezuela and Trinidad and Tobago. H.M.S. Warrior was a steam yacht that had been pressed into service by the Royal Navy.

Footnote 5: Undoubtedly Contre Amiral Maurice F.A. Grasset, the French naval commander in chief in the West Indies. 

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