811.34544/1½: Telegram

The Secretary of State to the Ambassador in the United Kingdom (Kennedy)

872. Your 1216, May 15, 6 p.m.56 Please transmit the following message from the President to the former naval person:57

“I have just received your message and I am sure it is unnecessary for me to say that I am most happy to continue our private correspondence as we have in the past.

I am, of course, giving every possible consideration to the suggestions made in your message. I shall take up your specific proposals one by one.

First, with regard to the possible loan of 40 or 50 of our older destroyers. As you know a step of that kind could not be taken except with the specific authorization of the Congress and I am not certain that it would be wise for that suggestion to be made to the Congress [Page 50]at this moment. Furthermore, it seems to me doubtful, from the standpoint of our own defense requirements, which must inevitably be linked with the defense requirements of this hemisphere and with our obligations in the Pacific, whether we could dispose even temporarily of these destroyers. Furthermore, even if we were able to take the step you suggest, it would be at least 6 or 7 weeks as a minimum, as I see it, before these vessels could undertake active service under the British flag.

Second. We are now doing everything within our power to make it possible for the Allied Governments to obtain the latest types of aircraft in the United States.

Third. If Mr. Purvis59 may receive immediate instructions to discuss the question of anti-aircraft, equipment and ammunition with the appropriate authorities here in Washington, the most favorable consideration will be given to the request made in the light of our own defense needs and requirements.

Fourth. Mr. Purvis has already taken up with the appropriate authorities here the purchase of steel in the United States and I understand that satisfactory arrangements have been made.

Fifth. I shall give further consideration to your suggestion with regard to the visit of the United States Squadron to Irish ports.

Sixth. As you know, the American fleet is now concentrated at Hawaii where it will remain at least for the time being.

I shall communicate with you again as soon as I feel able to make a final decision with regard to some of the other matters dealt with in your message and I hope you will feel free to communicate with me in this way at any time.

The best of luck to you.

Franklin D. Roosevelt”

  1. Not printed; this telegram transmitted a message from British Prime Minister Churchill to President Roosevelt. For text of message, see Winston S. Churchill, Their Finest Hour, p. 24.
  2. Code name for Winston Churchill.
  3. Arthur B. Purvis, Director-General, British Purchasing Commission.