500.A15 a 1/171: Telegram

The Ambassador in Great Britain (Houghton) to the Secretary of State


83. Text of memorandum from naval attaché of Embassy follows:

First Lord of Admiralty informally requested naval attaché to see him, and attaché called last evening. Bridgeman emphasized that he was speaking only for the Admiralty not for the Government but expressed his views as follows:

He feared that divergent positions might be taken by the United States, Japan, and Great Britain as a result of certain proposals now [Page 197] being made at Geneva and thought that an effort was being made to prejudice the success of the Three-Power Naval Conference by causing discord among the powers concerned at the present time. The French proposals he considered clever though impossible of acceptance and was confident that the present discussions at Geneva would yield nothing tangible. He trusted that unanimity in replying to questions raised at the present session of the Preparatory Commission might always be preserved among the three delegations. While deeming it best that no change be made in the attitude adopted last summer as regards opposition to theory of total tonnage or personnel limitation, he believed that modifications in details might for diplomatic reasons be made and that he would have no objection to them on the condition that the United States and Japan acted identically. Bridgeman laid emphasis, however, on fact that no pressure was being exerted by the Admiralty upon either of these powers to make them depart from agreements in principle already arrived at.

It was the naval attaché’s opinion that the First Lord appeared hopeful of results which the Three-Power Naval Conference might yield but that he also appeared to think that a prerequisite to its success was that the three powers should not enter upon it committed to different engagements arising out of the present negotiations. Bridgeman stated that he expected to head the British delegation, accompanied by naval officers including Vice Admiral Field. He added that the British delegation would present to the Conference proposals of an easily comprehensible kind. Commenting upon this, the naval attaché thought that the British scheme that has been formulated is not in accordance with some of the recent proposals at the present session of the Preparatory Commission which have been partially approved by some of the powers.

As Bridgeman felt that cooperation in the matter was of importance he emphasized the fact that he would be grateful if his views were communicated to the appropriate American authorities.