740.0011 European War 1939/3938: Telegram

The British Prime Minister (Churchill) to President Roosevelt 62

We all listened to you last night63 and were fortified by the grand scope of your declaration. Your statement that material aid of the United States will be given to the Allies in their struggle is a strong encouragement in a dark but not unhopeful hour. Everything must be done to keep France in the fight and to prevent any idea of the fall of Paris, should it occur, becoming the occasion of any kind of parley. The hope with which you inspired them may give them strength to persevere. [They should] continue to defend every yard of their soil and use full fighting force of their army. Hitler thus baffled of quick results will turn upon us and we are preparing ourselves to resist his fury and defend our Island. Having saved British Expeditionary Force we do not lack troops at home and as soon as Divisions can be equipped on much higher scale needed for Continental service they will be despatched to France. Our intention is to have a strong army fighting in France for campaign of 1941. I have already cabled you about aeroplanes including flying boats which are so needful to us in the impending struggle for the life of Great Britain. But even more pressing is the need for destroyers. Italian outrage makes it necessary for us to cope with much larger number of submarines which may come out into the Atlantic and perhaps be based on Spanish ports. To this the only counter is destroyers. Nothing is so important as for us to have 30 or 40 old destroyers you have already had reconditioned. We can fit them very rapidly with our asdics and they will bridge over the gap of 6 months before our wartime new construction comes into play. We will return them or their equivalents to you without fail at 6 months notice if at any time you need them. The next 6 months are vital. If while we have to guard the East Coast against invasion new heavy German and Italian submarine attack is launched against our commerce the strain may be beyond our resources 5 and ocean traffic by which we live may be strangled. Not a day should be lost. I send you my heartfelt thanks and those of my colleagues for all you are doing and seeking to do for what we may now indeed call a common cause.

  1. This telegram was sent through the British Embassy, which transmitted it to the Department on June 11 for delivery to the President.
  2. For text of President Roosevelt’s speech at Charlottesville, Virginia, see Department of State Bulletin, June 15, 1940, p. 635.