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Lieutenant Commander George B. Baker, Staff of Vice Admiral William S. Sims, Commander, United States Naval Forces Operating in European Waters, to Office of the Chief of Naval Operations

Chronological_Copy.                         File No.

Cablegram Sent November 5, 1918. Y-37

To Opnav Washington                           Serial No. 9006

Prep. by C-1 (Lt.Comdr.Baker)        SX D.R.

LC 1 & Clear       

9006 C.C.C. answering Rogers query.1 QUOTE Arrived London September 4. September 21 British signed agreement not to divert to Censorship American Press traffic destined United States when previously censored by Franco-American control, provided no reference made to British Operations or affairs. See my 8266.2

     September 25 British Government appointed F.H. Mitchell3 to supervise actual physical despatch of press traffic for United States through England. See my 5639. See British Who’s Who for Mitchell.

     October 10 American Army signal corps secured first direct connection American front to London for press traffic, which was accomplished with great skill and ingenuity over leased wire from front to Paris. This wire so shattered through military operations as to seem almost useless until signal corps undertook installation repeaters etc. October eleven signal corps detailed expert whose duties include not only supervision direct connection headquarters to London, but also by courtesy French officials, the inspection, routing and expedition of any American traffic reaching Paris Centrals over French wires or mixed French and American wires. This latter important because direct wire sometimes fails several times in one evening necessitating quick thinking quick action in re-routing if traffic is to reach London at reasonable hour. For instance, November 3 our own wire failed in early evening. Our newly established system re-routed remaining traffic over four district lines and placed last word in London at 7:50 P.M. New York Time.

     October 19 British signed additional agreement whereby press despatches for United States no longer diverted to British censorship when including reference to British operations if already passed by Franco-British-American control provided do not mention British affairs. This latter harmonizes with American censorship practice retaining control of outgoing expressions of individual attitudes, conjectures and interpretations possibly affecting international relations or giving aid informationtto enemy.

     October 18 suggested by Western Union officials London that impossible them help farther unless press from front be stamped “Government” to facilitate handling as special class and to justify company expediting press immediately after actual government business. See my 7363.

     October 26 Army Command agreed to use of prefix “Government” up to 5,000 words daily during specified hours.

     Conincidentally Army press section arranged secure two official communiques daily instead of one, which latter frequently arrived late at night, causing despatches be delayed until comparisons demonstrated accuracy correspondents stories. Earlier communique now permits several hours earlier filing.

     October 30 Western Union stated unable execute plan government prefix without modifications indicated my 8481. This apparently follows instructions from Newcomb Carlton. Local officials stated feared complications with British Government. This absurd because government never failed meet us more than half way anything we asked. You may discover American cable officials not consider press traffic highly desirable commercially just now and rates marked government especially unwelcome because many press messages pay full 25 cents word which would cease under attempted arrangement.

     With combined help Mitchell London, signal corps officers Paris and American front, energetic assistance chief military censor G.H.Q. and constant supervision from this office in continuing current general cooperation consider present service probably maintained, but further improvement improbable except under proposed government arrangement. Baker UNQUOTE 164506 9006


Source Note: Cy, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517B. The top of the first page of this copy is torn and part of the information is missing, however, with the exception of the file number, the information is repeated at the top of the second and third pages of this copy.

Footnote 1: Walter S. Rogers, Foreign Cable Service.

Footnote 2: None of the numbered cables listed in this report have been found.

Footnote 3: Capt. Francis H. Mitchell.

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