File No. 362.112T41/13
The Ambassador in Great Britain ( Page ) to the Secretary of State
[Received 3.15 p. m.]
1917. Your 1399, April 9, 8 p. m.1 British Government have made no declaration of policy in this regard. There are no indications that any ships engaged in regular cross-channel or Irish Sea services have been armed and the same is true with regard to the large transatlantic liners going to American ports. There have been no reports, official or unofficial, that any of the English ships which have been torpedoed or pursued by submarines have used guns to defend themselves.
There was private talk at one time that a few merchantmen in British waters were armed but no proof can be got that this was true. The same must be said about current reports that some merchantmen engaged in oversea traffic have been armed.
I learn from a reliable source that there are at Liverpool three ocean-going liners with names painted out which have mounted guns apparently four point sevens aft. These ships may be intended for transports but have not yet at all events been painted navy gray.