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Destroyers for Bases Agreement

The Destroyers for Bases Agreement between the United States and the United Kingdom, September 2, 1940, transferred fifty destroyers from the United States Navy in exchange for land rights on British possessions. The destroyers became the Town class.

Contents


Background

The Second World War started in September 1939. After the brief interlude of the Phony War, France and the Low Countries were quickly overrun by the Nazi German Blitzkrieg in the Battle of France in May 1940. This left the United Kingdom and Empire fighting alone (or almost alone after the Italian attack on Greece that autumn) against Germany.

Although the United States government was sympathetic to Britain's plight, American public opinion at the time overwhelmingly supported isolationism to avoid U.S. involvement in "another European war". Reflecting this sentiment, Congress had passed the Neutrality Acts three years previously, which banned the shipment of arms from the U.S. to any combatant nation, unless paid for in cash. Additionally, President Franklin D. Roosevelt was further constrained by the upcoming 1940 Presidential election, as his critics sought to portray him as being pro-war.

By late May, following the evacuation of British forces from Dunkirk, France, in Operation Dynamo, the Royal Navy was in immediate need of ships, especially as they were now facing the Battle of the Atlantic in which German U-boats threatened Britain's supplies of food and other resources essential to the war effort.

With German troops advancing rapidly into France and many in the U.S. Government convinced that the defeat of France and Britain was imminent, the United States sent a proposal to the United Kingdom through the British Ambassador, the Marquess of Lothian, for an American lease of airfields on Trinidad, Bermuda, and Newfoundland.[1] British Prime Minister Winston Churchill initially rejected the offer on May 27 unless Britain received something immediate in return. On June 1, as the defeat of France loomed, President Roosevelt bypassed the Neutrality Act by declaring as "surplus" many millions of rounds of American ammunition and guns, and authorizing their shipment to the United Kingdom. But Roosevelt rejected Churchill's pleas for destroyers for the Royal Navy.

By August, while Britain and the Commonwealth stood alone against Germany, the American Ambassador Joseph P. Kennedy reported from London that a British surrender was "inevitable". Seeking to persuade Roosevelt to send the destroyers, Churchill warned Roosevelt ominously that if Britain were vanquished, its colonial islands close to American shores could become a direct threat to America if they fell into German hands.

The deal

Finally on September 2, 1940, as the Battle of Britain intensified and the Luftwaffe and Royal Air Force fought in the skies over England, United States Secretary of State, Cordell Hull, signaled agreement to the transfer of the destroyers to the Royal Navy.

In exchange, the US was granted land in various British possessions for the establishment of naval or air bases, on ninety-nine-year rent-free leases, on:

The agreement also stipulated Britain's acceptance of the US proposal for air and naval bases rights in:

The US accepted the "generous action… to enhance the national security of the United States" and immediately transferred in return fifty U.S. Navy destroyers "generally referred to as the twelve hundred-ton type" (also known in references as the "flush-deck" destroyers, or the "four-pipers" after their four funnels). Forty-three destroyers initially went to the British Royal Navy and seven to the Royal Canadian Navy. In the Commonwealth navies the ships were re-named after towns, and were therefore known as the Town class, although they had originally belonged to three ship classes (the Caldwell-class, the Wickes-class, and Clemson-class). Before the end of the war, nine others also served with the Royal Canadian Navy.

Five of the Town class destroyers were manned by crews of the Royal Norwegian Navy, with the survivors later returned to the British Royal Navy. HMS Campbeltown was manned by Royal Netherlands Navy sailors before her assignment to ram the drydock gates and sacrifice herself in the St. Nazaire Raid. Nine other destroyers were eventually transferred to the Soviet Navy.

Six of the 50 destroyers were lost when torpedoed by U-boats, and three others, including the Campbeltown, were destroyed in other circumstances.

The bases

A Naval Air Station at Crabbs Peninsula [2]
An Army Air Force airfield (Coolidge Army Airfield (later AFB) (closed 1949)
An Army Air Force airfield (Atkinson Aerodrome (later AFB)) (closed 1949)
A Naval seaplane base near Suddie.
An Army Air Force airfield (Vernam Army Airfield (later AFB)) (closed 1949)
A Naval Air Station (Little Goat Island) and a Naval facility at Port Royal
An Army Air Force airfield (Beane Army Airfield (later AFB)) (closed 1949)
A Naval Air Station (Gros Islet Bay)
An Army Air Force airfield (Fort Bell Army Airfield (later Kindley AFB)) (transferred to U.S. Navy 1970, then closed 1995)
Several Army Air Force airfields
Pepperrell Airfield (later AFB) (closed August 1961)
Goose Bay Army Airfield (later AFB) (turned over to Canadian Forces, July 1976)
Stephenville Army Airfield (later AFB) (closed December 1966)
McAndrew Airfield (later AFB) (transferred to U.S. Navy, 1955)
A Naval Air Station
Naval Station Argentia (closed 1994)
Multiple Marine and Army Bases and detachments in support of the above.
Two Army Air Force airfields
Waller Army Airfield (later AFB) (closed 1949)
Carlsen Army Airfield (later AFB) (closed 1949)
A Naval Operating Base, a Naval Air Station, blimp base, and a radio station

The ships

No Name Class Service History
01 USS Conway (DD-70) Caldwell To Britain. Renamed HMS Lewes. Scuttled on October 12 1945
02 USS Conner (DD-72) Caldwell To Britain. Renamed HMS Leeds. Broken up in 1947
03 USS Stockton (DD-73) Caldwell To Britain. Renamed HMS Ludlow. Broken up in 1945
04 USS Wickes (DD-75) Wickes To Britain. Renamed HMS Montgomery. Broken up in 1945
05 USS Philip (DD-76) Wickes To Britain. Renamed HMS Lancaster. Broken up in 1947
06 USS Evans (DD-78) Wickes To Britain. Renamed HMS Mansfield. Broken up in 1945
07 USS Sigourney (DD-81) Wickes To Britain. Renamed HMS Newport. Broken up in 1947
08 USS Robinson (DD-88) Wickes To Britain. Renamed HMS Newmarket. Broken up in 1945
09 USS Ringgold (DD-89) Wickes To Britain. Renamed HMS Newark. Broken up in 1947
10 USS Fairfax (DD-93) Wickes To Britain. Renamed HMS Richmond. To Russia in 1944. Renamed Jivodchyi. Broken up in 1949
11 USS Williams (DD-108) Wickes To Canada. Renamed HMCS St. Clair. Foundered in 1946
12 USS Twiggs (DD-127) Wickes To Britain. Renamed HMS Leamington. To Russia in 1944. Renamed Zhyachi. Broken up in 1951
13 USS Buchanan (DD-131) Wickes To Britain. Renamed HMS Campbeltown. Destroyed in the St. Nazaire Raid on March 28 1942
14 USS Aaron Ward (DD-132) Wickes To Britain. Renamed HMS Castleton. Broken up in 1947
15 USS Hale (DD-133) Wickes To Britain. Renamed HMS Caldwell. Broken up in 1944
16 USS Crowninshield (DD-134) Wickes To Britain. Renamed HMS Chelsea. To Russia in 1944. Renamed Derskyi. Broken up in 1949
17 USS Tillman (DD-135) Wickes To Britain. Renamed HMS Wells. Broken up in 1945
18 USS Claxton (DD-140) Wickes To Britain. Renamed HMS Salisbury. Broken up in 1944
19 USS Yarnall (DD-143) Wickes To Britain. Renamed HMS Lincoln. To Canada in 1942. Renamed HMCS Lincoln. To Russia in 1944. Renamed Druzhny. Broken up in 1952.
20 USS Thatcher (DD-162) Wickes To Canada. Renamed HMCS Niagara. Broken up on 1946
21 USS Cowell (DD-167) Wickes To Britain. Renamed HMS Brighton. To Russia in 1944. Renamed Jarkyi. Returned to Britain in 1949 and broken up.
22 USS Maddox (DD-168) Wickes To Britain. Renamed HMS Georgetown. To Russia in 1944. Renamed Doblesnyi. Broken up in 1949
23 USS Foote (DD-169) Wickes To Britain. Renamed HMS Roxborough. To Russia in 1944. Renamed Zhostkyi. Returned to Britain in 1949 and broken up in 1952
24 USS Kalk (DD-170) Wickes To Canada. Renamed HMCS Hamilton. Broken up in 1945
25 USS Mackenzie (DD-175) Wickes To Canada. Renamed HMCS Annapolis. Broken up in 1945
26 USS Hopewell (DD-181) Wickes To Britain. Renamed HMS Bath. Sunk on August 19 1941 by U-204
27 USS Thomas (DD-182) Wickes To Britain. Renamed HMS St. Albans. To Russia in 1944. Renamed Dostoiny. Broken up in 1949
28 USS Haraden (DD-183) Wickes To Britain. Renamed HMS Columbia. Broken up in 1945
29 USS Abbot (DD-184) Wickes To Britain. Renamed HMS Charlestown. Broken up in 1947
30 USS Doran (DD-185) Wickes To Britain. Renamed HMS St. Marys. Broken up in 1945
31 USS Satterlee (DD-190) Clemson To Britain. Renamed HMS Belmont. Sunk by U-82 on January 31 1942
32 USS Mason (DD-191) Clemson To Britain. Renamed HMS Broadwater. Sunk by U-101 on October 18 1941
33 USS Abel P Upshur (DD-193) Clemson To Britain. Renamed HMS Clare. Broken up in 1945
34 USS Hunt (DD-194) Clemson To Britain. Renamed HMS Broadway. Broken up in 1947
35 USS Welborn C Wood (DD-195) Clemson To Britain. Renamed HMS Chesterfield. Broken up in 1947
36 USS Branch (DD-197) Clemson To Britain. Renamed HMS Beverley. Sunk by U-188 on April 11 1943
37 USS Herndon (DD-198) Clemson To Britain. Renamed HMS Churchill. To Russia in 1944. Renamed Delatelnyi. Sunk on January 16 1945 in uncertain circumstances
38 USS McCook (DD-252) Clemson To Canada. Renamed HMCS St. Croix. Sunk by U-952 on September 20 1943
39 USS McCalla (DD-253) Clemson To Britain. Renamed HMS Stanley. Sunk by U-574 on December 18 1941
40 USS Rodgers (DD-254) Clemson To Britain. Renamed HMS Sherwood. Sunk as target in 1945
41 USS Bancroft (DD-256) Clemson To Canada. Renamed HMCS St. Francis. Foundered in 1945 while en route to scrap yard.
42 USS Welles (DD-257) Clemson To Britain. Renamed HMS Cameron. Damaged beyond repair in air raid at Portsmouth on December 5 1940
43 USS Aulick (DD-258) Clemson To Britain. Renamed HMS Burnham. Broken up in 1947
44 USS Laub (DD-263) Clemson To Britain. Renamed HMS Burwell. Broken up in 1947
45 USS McLanahan (DD-264) Clemson To Britain. Renamed HMS Bradford. Broken up in 1946
46 USS Edwards (DD-265) Clemson To Britain. Renamed HMS Buxton. To Canada in 1943. Renamed HMCS Buxton. Broken up in 1946
47 USS Shubrick (DD-268) Clemson To Britain. Renamed HMS Ripley. Broken up in 1945
48 USS Bailey (DD-269) Clemson To Britain. Renamed HMS Reading. Broken up in 1945
49 USS Swasey (DD-273) Clemson To Britain. Renamed HMS Rockingham. Struck mine on September 27 1944, and sunk while under tow
50 USS Meade (DD-274) Clemson To Britain. Renamed HMS Ramsey. Broken up in 1947

See also

References

External links

da:Destroyere for baser-aftalen de:Zerstörer-für-Stützpunkte-Abkommen pl:Porozumienie niszczyciele za bazy