Rear Admiral William S. Benson, Chief of Naval Operations, to Commodore Guy R. Gaunt, British Naval Attaché, Washington, D.C.
May 17, 1918 [i.e., 1917]1
The Navy Department is prepared to supply twenty- guns of 4-inch or 5-inch caliber, with 150 rounds of ammunition per gun to the British Government to be placed on board merchant vessels during the next two months as the need arises. Three of these guns have already been furnished.
It would greatly facilitate the supplying of these guns if you will furnish the Chief of Naval Operations with a list of the vessels to which it is desired these guns be supplied, the port at which they will be required the number of guns to be allotted to each vessel, and the approximate date that each vessel will be ready to receive them.
Owing to the disposition of the guns at various places, and the fact that this total number is not immediately available, some information of the above character is necessary if expedition is desired at the time the vessel is available.
If it is impracticable to furnish this information in the form of a complete list, advance information in regard to any individual vessel will greatly assist in expediting the work of putting the battery on board.2
It is suggested that it will save confusion if the request for a gun for any designated vessel is submitted by you direct to this office.3
W. S. BENSON,
Chief of Naval Operations.
Source Note: DS, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517. Addressed below close: “Commodore Guy Gaunt, R.N.,/British Embassy,/Washington, D. C.” Identifying numbers in the top left-hand corner of the page: Op-24-d/23754-1: 31.”
Footnote 1: Someone crossed through the incorrect date and hand wrote the correct one above it.
Footnote 2: The British requested that the U.S. provide arms for their merchant vessels. See: Dudley R.S. De Chair to W. Graham Greene, 15 May 1917.
Footnote 3: The list has not been found. However, on 22 May, Gaunt requested that he be furnished “with design of guns and mountings of batteries loaned to British merchant vessels.” Benson to Gaunt, 24 May 1917, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517.