Editorial Note

No official record of this conversation has been found. The information set forth above regarding the time of the meeting and the participants is taken from the President’s appointment calendar in the Roosevelt Papers. A reference to the meeting appears in Churchill, The Grand Alliance, p. 690, where it is referred to as one of a series of meetings on “supply issues” in which it was decided to raise drastically the United States output of merchant shipping for the years 1942 and 1943.

On June 25, 1963, the editors wrote to Vice Admiral Land to ask whether the meeting of January 2, 1942, was in fact the one at which the decisions were reached that were embodied in the President’s directive of January 3 and his Message to Congress of January 6 with regard to production of cargo ships. Admiral Land replied as follows:

“As I remember, the high spots of the meeting are as outlined in your letter.

“As always, the Prime Minister (as well as everyone else) requested more and more merchant ships. The President told the Prime Minister, ‘We have reached the bottom of the barrel’, whereupon the Prime Minister replied, ‘You can scrape the barrel’, and that is what resulted for we were forced to assign some additional ships to the British. Both Admiral Vickery and I politely disagreed with this decision but carried it out as far as was in any way practicable.

. . . . . . . . . . . . . .

“My recollection is that the President’s message to Congress on January 6 was his own concept of the situation, but most likely this conference had a direct bearing on his ideas of ship tonnage required.

“The President was the most ship-minded gentleman I have ever heard of or known with Naval ships number one and merchant ships number two.” (Land to the Historical Office, June 28, 1963, PR 10).

See also the testimony of Admiral Vickery in Production in Shipbuilding Plants: Executive Hearings before the Subcommittee on [Page 158] Production in Shipbuilding Plants of the Committee on the Merchant Marine and Fisheries, House of Representatives, 78th Cong., 2d sess., on H. Res. 52 (Washington: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1944), p. 915.