Monthly Archives: February 2003

FATEFUL ORDERS – HOW 3 US OCEAN LINERS CARRIED 20,000 BRITISH TROOPS TO WAR

(The unknown correspondence between Franklin D. Roosevelt and Winston Churchill authorizing a top-secret convoy of 20,000 British troops to Singapore on three American transports.)  ss.america

A series of “Triple Priority” telegrams between President Franklin Roosevelt and Prime Minister Winston Churchill that would result in FDR breaking the Neutrality Act, began only two weeks after the Atlantic Conference in August 1941.  As a result, FDR approved the transport of British troops to war in American ships, even as the United States remained technically at peace.

There was much to be concerned about.  Churchill’s first message to FDR on September 1, 1941 revealed doubts about maintaining Britain’s strategic Middle East situation:  “ Would it be possible for you to lend us twelve United States liners and twenty U.S. cargo ships manned by American crews from early October until February…I know from out talks that it will be difficult to do, but there is a great need for more British troops in the Middle East.”  Churchill ended plaintively.  “It is quite true that the loan of these liners would hamper any large dispatch of U.S. forces to Europe or Africa, but as you know I have never asked for this in any period we can reasonably foresee in the near future.”

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