Hopkins Papers

The British Ambassador (Halifax) to President Roosevelt1

Dear Mr. President, Mr. Eden has asked me to let you know that the question of Italian ships for the Russians, which was dealt with in your telegram No. 422 of December 21st to the Prime Minister,2” has been considered in London in the light of the telegram which you sent to Mr. Harriman.

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

There is a further point on which there appears to be some uncertainty in London. According to our record of what was said at Tehran, it seems to have been agreed there between yourself and the Prime Minister to assign “a battleship and a cruiser” for Soviet use “about the end of January”, the title of ownership to be decided upon after the surrender of Germany. The suggestion mentioned in your telegram to Mr. Harriman of handing over to the Russians a third of surrendered Italian ships appears to be a different one. (The request which the Soviet Government made at the Moscow Conference was for one battleship, one cruiser, 8 destroyers, 4 submarines and 40,000 tons of merchant shipping.)

Eden has not specifically asked me to put to you the point contained in this last paragraph, but he has put it to our Chargé d’Affaires in Moscow, who may therefore be speaking to Harriman about it.

Believe me, Dear Mr. President,

Very sincerely yours,

  1. On January 4, 1944, Roosevelt sent this note to Hopkins with a memorandum reading “Does this need an answer?” An endorsement of February 11, 1944, reads “No ans[wer] necessary—file per HLH”.
  2. No. 422 was the repetition to Churchill of Roosevelt’s telegram to Harriman,. ante, p. 852.