Roosevelt Papers: Telegram

The British First Lord of the Admiralty ( Alexander ) to Prime Minister Churchill and the British First Sea Ford ( Pound )1

most secret

Your Welfare 584.2 (U–Boat Statement).

On the basis of the number of U–Boats sunk in relation to our shipping losses, August has been the best month of the war. Our shipping losses from U–Boat attack were 13 ships of 86,000 tons and we have sunk 20 German and Italian, and two Japanese U–Boats.
Owing to the number of supply boats sunk, the enemy have had to withdraw a large number of U–Boats which would normally have operated for considerably longer.
For this reason, and for others, including the rearmament of U–Boats, the enemy have not developed their full power to attack shipping routes.
We estimate enemy has about 140 U–Boats based on Biscay ports and a further 200 in commission in the Baltic, including school boats, a large number of which should be ready to sail for the Atlantic now. There are signs that the flow of U–Boats from the Baltic to the Atlantic is already starting.
Although the results for August are very good, it is recommended that your statement with the President should not give too much emphasis to this because the public do not appreciate the possibilities of the U–Boat force at the enemy’s disposal. A very favourable statement this month, taken into account with your statement last month,3 would be inclined to encourage a feeling that the U–Boat war is over. It is [Page 1301] proposed that your statement with the President should take the following line.
Heading of proposed statement. As a result of the Prime Minister’s recent agreement with Mr. Mackenzie King that the Canadians were to be consulted before the issue of each monthly statement, the precise procedure to be followed is not clear to Admiralty as it is not known whether Mr. Mackenzie King himself wishes to be shown the communiqué before it is issued or whether he would be content merely that it should be passed by the Canadian Navy Board. Admiralty have therefore not taken any steps to bring the draft to the notice of either the Canadian Navy or the Canadian Prime Minister. Begins.

Issued by the President and Prime Minister after consultation with the British Admiralty, United States Navy Department, and Canadian Department of National Defence for Naval Services.

August has been another successful month in U–Boat warfare. Owing perhaps to re-armament and other causes, there appear to have been fewer U–Boats at sea than in recent months, and shipping losses have continued to decrease.
It is significant that the enemy made virtually no attempt to attack North Atlantic shipping, and opportunities for attacking the U–Boats have been relatively few. Nevertheless, U–Boats have been hunted relentlessly on all stations wherever they have appeared and a heavy toll has been taken of the enemy. In fact more U–Boats have been sunk than merchant ships.
Surface and Air forces have both contributed to this satisfactory month’s work by the efficiency of their escorts, patrols and offensive operations. Shore-based aircraft have often had to face powerful enemy Air opposition, and carrier-borne aircraft have played a most important part.
We are ready to attack the enemy with utmost vigour should he provide the opportunity by resuming a general attack on our shipping with the very large number of U–Boats at his disposal.4 Ends.
  1. The title of the First Sea Lord as an additional addressee appears in manuscript on the source text. At the end of the message is the following manuscript endorsement by Churchill: “President to see”. The source text in the Roosevelt Papers is attached to the following typed chit on White House stationery: “The President To See. The draft of the proposed joint statement has been telegraphed to Mr. Mackenzie King for his observations.”
  2. Not found in United States files.
  3. Ante, p. 833.
  4. A copy of this draft statement was forwarded on September 6, 1943, by the President’s Naval Aide (Brown) to the Director of the Office of War Information (Davis) and the Director of Public Relations in the Navy Department (Lovette).