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Commodore Guy R. Gaunt, Britiah Naval Attaché in Washington, D.C., to British Admiralty


From COMMODORE GAUNT.                             DATE 6.10.17.

          WASHINGTON.                             SENT

To Admiralty.                                     RECD.


     436. Press articles with large head lines as follows:-

     “Not even XXXXXXX engendered by Britain’s Navy tactics. British withhold their secrets of Naval warfare. Given knowledge American inventions in naval warfare, His Majesty’s sea dogs reluctant to reveal their own”

     These articles appeared in Washington Times of last night Thursday and New York (group omitted)2 E and Washington Post this morning Friday, I have personally seen the Secretary, Admiral Benson, Admiral Earle, and Captain Pratt and others at a ? meeting this morning Friday.3 Admiral Benson made a long statement in which he asked me to assure you that they were most distress at the articles which were totally untrue and that they were perfectly assured and confident that nothing had ever been withheld from them, he even went so far as to say that if anything at all had been withheld between the two Admiralties it had been by the United States Navy Dep. and they had only done this until a definite decision had been arrived at in order that suggested inventions or alterations should not leak out at this end or in transmission. Secretary Daniels has made a statement to Press to the above effect and I hope that it will appear in all papers tomorrow Saturday.4 I will cable further then.

Source Note: Cy, UK-KeNA, Adm. 137/655.

Footnote 1: This is the designation for the code that was used to transmit this message.

Footnote 2: This means a group of code numbers was omitted.

Footnote 3: Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. William S. Benson, Head of the Bureau of Ordnance RAdm. Ralph Earle, Assistant Chief of Naval Operations Capt. William V. Pratt.

Footnote 4: Gaunt immediately scheduled a meeting at the Navy Department, where Benson “was at a loss to explain the origin of the article. . . He assured Commander Gaunt that he had no complaint to make.” Daniels sent for correspondents and informed them that no friction existed between the British Admiralty and the Navy Department. Gaunt was subsequently recalled to explain the rupture. His recall created its own scandal with press commentary that led the British embassy to believe that some member of the American Navy Department was actively leaking information to the press. Collville Barclay to Arthur J. Balfour, 18 October, 1917, UK-KeNA, Adm. 137/655. See: Foreign Office to Sir Cecil Spring-Rice, 20 September 1917.