In the Destroyers for Bases Agreement between the United States and the United Kingdom on September 2, 1940, fifty Caldwell, Wickes, and Clemsonclass US Navy destroyers were transferred to the Royal Navy from the United States Navy in exchange for land rights on British possessions. Generally referred to as the "twelve hundred-ton type" (also known as "flush-deck", or "four-pipers" after their four funnels), the destroyers became the British Townclass and were named after towns common to both the United States and Britain.Roosevelt used an executive agreement that did not require Congressional approval, but he came under heavy attack from antiwar political elements. Winston Churchill believed the agreement gave Germany grounds to declare war on the United States.
The Caldwell class of destroyers served in the United States Navy near the end of World War I. Four served as convoy escorts in the Atlantic; the other two were completed too late for wartime service. Two were scrapped during the 1930s, but four survived to serve throughout World War II, three of these in service with the Royal Navy under the Destroyers for Bases Agreement.
The Wickes-class destroyers were a class of 111 destroyers built by the United States Navy in 1917–19. Along with the 6 preceding Caldwell-class and 156 subsequent Clemson-class destroyers, they formed the "flush-deck" or "four-stack" type. Only a few were completed in time to serve in World War I, including USS Wickes, the lead ship of the class.
The Clemson class was a series of 156 destroyers which served with the United States Navy from after World War I through World War II.
By late June 1940, Germany had defeated France, and the British and their Commonwealth and Empire stood alone in warfare against Hitler and Mussolini.
Nazi Germany is the common English name for Germany between 1933 and 1945, when Adolf Hitler and his Nazi Party (NSDAP) controlled the country through a dictatorship. Under Hitler's rule, Germany was transformed into a totalitarian state that controlled nearly all aspects of life via the Gleichschaltung legal process. The official name of the state was Deutsches Reich until 1943 and Großdeutsches Reich from 1943 to 1945. Nazi Germany is also known as the Third Reich, meaning "Third Realm" or "Third Empire", the first two being the Holy Roman Empire (800–1806) and the German Empire (1871–1918). The Nazi regime ended after the Allies defeated Germany in May 1945, ending World War II in Europe.
The British Chiefs of Staff Committee concluded in May that if France collapsed, "we do not think we could continue the war with any chance of success" without "full economic and financial support" from the United States of America.Although the United States government was sympathetic to Britain's plight, American public opinion at the time overwhelmingly supported isolationism to avoid US involvement in "another European war". Reflecting this sentiment, Congress had passed the Neutrality Acts three years previously, which banned the shipment or sale of arms from the US to any combatant nation. 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. Legal advice from the United States Justice Department stated that the transaction was legal.
The Chiefs of Staff Committee (CSC) is composed of the most senior military personnel in the British Armed Forces who advise on operational military matters and the preparation and conduct of military operations. The committee consists of the Chief of the Defence Staff who is the chairman and professional head of the forces, the Vice-Chief of the Defence Staff, who is the vice-chairman and deputy professional head of the armed forces. The Committee also consists of the professional heads of each branch of the armed forces: the First Sea Lord and Chief of the Naval Staff, the Chief of the General Staff and the Chief of the Air Staff.
Non-interventionism is the diplomatic policy whereby a nation seeks to avoid alliances with other nations in order to avoid being drawn into wars not related to direct territorial self-defense, has had a long history among government and popular opinion in the United States. At times, the degree and nature of this policy was better known as isolationism, such as the period between the world wars.
Franklin Delano Roosevelt, often referred to by his initials FDR, was an American statesman and political leader who served as the 32nd president of the United States from 1933 until his death in 1945. A Democrat, he won a record four presidential elections and became a central figure in world events during the first half of the 20th century. Roosevelt directed the federal government during most of the Great Depression, implementing his New Deal domestic agenda in response to the worst economic crisis in U.S. history. As a dominant leader of his party, he built the New Deal Coalition, which realigned American politics into the Fifth Party System and defined American liberalism throughout the middle third of the 20th century. His third and fourth terms were dominated by World War II. Roosevelt is widely considered to be one of the most important figures in American history, as well as among the most influential figures of the 20th century. Though he has also been subject to much criticism, he is generally rated by scholars as one of the three greatest U.S. presidents, along with George Washington and Abraham Lincoln.
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 fighting the Battle of the Atlantic in which German U-boats threatened Britain's supplies of food and other resources essential to the war effort.
The Royal Navy (RN) is the United Kingdom's naval warfare force. Although warships were used by the English kings from the early medieval period, the first major maritime engagements were fought in the Hundred Years War against the Kingdom of France. The modern Royal Navy traces its origins to the early 16th century; the oldest of the UK's armed services, it is known as the Senior Service.
The Battle of the Atlantic was the longest continuous military campaign in World War II, running from 1939 to the defeat of Nazi Germany in 1945, and was a major part of the Naval history of World War II. At its core was the Allied naval blockade of Germany, announced the day after the declaration of war, and Germany's subsequent counter-blockade. It was at its height from mid-1940 through to the end of 1943.
U-boat is an anglicised version of the German word U-Boot[ˈuːboːt](
With German troops advancing rapidly into France and many in the US Government convinced that the defeat of France and Britain was imminent, the United States sent a proposal to London through the British Ambassador, the Marquess of Lothian, for an American lease of airfields on Trinidad, Bermuda, and Newfoundland.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 obsolescent small arms, and authorizing their shipment to the United Kingdom. However, Roosevelt rejected Churchill's pleas for destroyers for the Royal Navy.
Philip Henry Kerr, 11th Marquess of Lothian,, known as Philip Kerr until 1930, was a British politician, diplomat and newspaper editor. He was private secretary to Prime Minister David Lloyd George between 1916 and 1921. After succeeding a cousin in the marquessate in 1930, he held minor office from 1931 to 1932 in the National Government, headed by Ramsay MacDonald.
Trinidad is the larger and more populous of the two major islands of Trinidad and Tobago. The island lies 11 km (6.8 mi) off the northeastern coast of Venezuela and sits on the continental shelf of South America. Though geographically part of the South American continent, from a socio-economic standpoint it is often referred to as the southernmost island in the Caribbean. With an area of 4,768 km2 (1,841 sq mi), it is also the fifth largest in the West Indies.
Bermuda is a British Overseas Territory in the North Atlantic Ocean. It is approximately 1,070 km (665 mi) east-southeast of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina; 1,236 km (768 mi) south of Cape Sable Island, Nova Scotia; and 1,759 km (1,093 mi) northeast of Cuba. The capital city is Hamilton. Bermuda is self-governing, with its own constitution and its own government, which enacts local laws, while the United Kingdom retains responsibility for defence and foreign relations. As of July 2018, its population is 71,176, the highest of the British overseas territories.
By August, while Britain reached a low point, U.S. 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.
President Roosevelt approved the deal on the evening of August 30, 1940.On September 2, 1940, as the Battle of Britain intensified, Secretary of State Cordell Hull signaled agreement to the transfer of the warships to the Royal Navy. On September 3, 1940, Admiral Harold Stark certified that the destroyers were not vital to the security of the United States. In exchange, the US was granted land in various British possessions for the establishment of naval or air bases with rent-free, 99-year leases, on:
The agreement also granted the US air and naval base rights in:
No destroyers were received in exchange for the bases in Bermuda and Newfoundland. Both territories were vital to trans-Atlantic shipping, aviation, and to the Battle of the Atlantic. Although enemy attack on either was unlikely, it could not be discounted, and Britain had been forced to wastefully maintain defensive forces, including the Bermuda Garrison. The deal allowed Britain to hand much of the defence of Bermuda over to the still-neutral US, freeing British forces for redeployment to more active theatres. It also enabled the development of strategic facilities at US expense which British forces would also use.
The Royal Air Force (RAF) and the Fleet Air Arm (FAA) each maintained air stations in Bermuda at the start of the war, but these only served flying boats. The RAF station on Darrell's Island served as a staging point for trans-Atlantic flights by RAF Transport Command and RAF Ferry Command, BOAC, and Pan-Am, as well as hosting the Bermuda Flying School, but did not operate maritime patrols. The FAA station on Boaz Island, existed to service aircraft based on vessels operating from or through the Royal Naval Dockyard, but attempted to maintain maritime patrols using pilots from naval ships, RAF Darrell's Island, and the Bermuda Flying School.
The agreement for bases in Bermuda stipulated that the US would, at its own expense, build an airfield, capable of handling large landplanes, which would be operated jointly by the US Army Air Force and the Royal Air Force. The airfield was named Kindley Field (after Field Kindley, an American aviator who fought for Britain during the First World War). RAF Transport Command relocated its operations to the airfield when it was completed in 1943, although RAF Ferry Command remained at Darrell's Island. Prior to this, the US Navy had established the Naval Operating Base at Bermuda's West End. This was a flying boat station, from which maritime patrols were operated for the remainder of the war (the US Navy had actually begun operating such patrols from RAF Darrell's Island, using floatplanes, while waiting for their own base to become operational). The RAF and FAA facilities were closed after the war, leaving only the US air bases in Bermuda. The Naval Operating Base ceased to be an air station in 1965, when its flying boats were replaced by Lockheed P-2 Neptunes, operating from the Kindley Air Force Base (as the former US Army airfield had become). These U.S. air bases were in fact only two of several US military facilities that operated in Bermuda during the Twentieth Century. The United States abandoned many of these bases in 1949 and the remaining few were closed in 1995.
The U.S. accepted the "generous action… to enhance the national security of the United States" and immediately transferred in return 50 Caldwell, Wickes, and Clemson-class U.S. Navy destroyers, "generally referred to as the twelve hundred-ton type" (also known as "flush-deckers", or "four-pipers" after their four funnels). Forty-three ships initially went to the British Royal Navy and seven to the Royal Canadian Navy. In the Commonwealth navies, the ships were renamed after towns, and were therefore known as the "Town" class, although they had originally belonged to three classes (Caldwell, Wickes, and Clemson). Before the end of the war, nine others also served with the Royal Canadian Navy. Five Towns were manned by Royal Norwegian Navy crews, with the survivors later returned to the Royal Navy. HMS Campbeltown was manned by Royal Netherlands Navy sailors before her assignment to the St. Nazaire Raid. Nine other destroyers were eventually transferred to the Soviet Navy. Six of the 50 destroyers were lost to U-boats, and three others, including Campbeltown, were destroyed in other circumstances.
Britain had no choice but to accept the deal, but it was so much more advantageous to America than Britain that Churchill's aide John Colville compared it to the USSR's relationship with Finland. The destroyers were in reserve from the massive U.S. World War I shipbuilding program, and many of the vessels required extensive overhaul due to the fact that many were not preserved properly when inactivated; one British admiral called them the "worst destroyers I had ever seen",and only 30 were in service by May 1941. Churchill also disliked the deal, but his advisers persuaded the prime minister to merely tell Roosevelt that:
We have so far only been able to bring a few of your fifty destroyers into action on account of the many defects which they naturally develop when exposed to Atlantic weather after having been laid up so long.
Roosevelt responded by transferring ten Lake-class Coast Guard cutters to the Royal Navy in 1941. These United States Coast Guard vessels were ten years newer than the destroyers, and had greater range, making them more useful as anti-submarine convoy escorts.
The agreement was much more important for being the start of the wartime Anglo-American partnership. Churchill said in Parliament that "these two great organisations of the English-speaking democracies, the British Empire and the United States, will have to be somewhat mixed up together in some of their affairs for mutual and general advantage".
A total of 50 ships were reassigned: 3 Caldwell-class, 27 Wickes-class, and 20 Clemson-class destroyers.
|No||Name||Class||Service history and fate|
|01||USS Craven (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. Sunk as a target 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 USSR in 1944. Renamed Zhivuchiy ("Tenacious"). 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 USSR in 1944. Renamed Zhguchiy ("Firebrand"). Recreated the St. Nazaire raid in the Trevor Howard film Gift Horse. 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 USSR in 1944. Renamed Derzkiy ("Ardent"). 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 USSR in 1944. Renamed Druzhny ("United"). Last one to be broken up, in 1952.|
|20||USS Thatcher (DD-162)||Wickes||To Canada. Renamed HMCS Niagara. Broken up in 1946.|
|21||USS Cowell (DD-167)||Wickes||To Britain. Renamed HMS Brighton. To USSR in 1944. Renamed Zharkiy ("Zealous"). Returned to Britain and broken up in 1949.|
|22||USS Maddox (DD-168)||Wickes||To Britain. Renamed HMS Georgetown. To USSR in 1944. Renamed Doblestny ("Valiant"). Broken up in 1949.|
|23||USS Foote (DD-169)||Wickes||To Britain. Renamed HMS Roxborough. To USSR in 1944. Renamed Zhostkiy ("Adamant"). Returned to Britain and broken up in 1949.|
|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 USSR in 1944. Renamed Dostoyny ("Excellent"). Broken up in 1949.|
|28||USS Haraden (DD-183)||Wickes||Initially to Britain and then on to Canada. Renamed HMS Columbia then HMCS 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 USSR in 1944. Renamed Deyatelny ("Active"). Sank 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 a 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 an 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 a mine on September 27, 1944, and sank while under tow.|
|50||USS Meade (DD-274)||Clemson||To Britain. Renamed HMS Ramsey. Broken up in 1947.|
The defence of Bermuda remains the responsibility of the United Kingdom Government, rather than of the local Bermudian Government. Despite this, the Bermuda Government was historically responsible for maintaining Militia for the defence of the Colony.
Most countries with military aviation forces have a system for naming of military airbases. "Air Force Base" ("AFB") is part of the name of military airbases of the United States Air Force (USAF) and the South African Air Force (SAAF), with the USAF using it at the end of the name of the base, and the SAAF using it at the start. The Royal Australian Air Force uses a slightly different format referring to bases as "RAAF Base". The Canadian Forces also uses a different format referring to any base as "CFB" or "BFC" in French.
L.F. Wade International Airport, formerly named Bermuda International Airport, is the sole airport serving the British overseas territory of Bermuda in the North Atlantic Ocean. It is located in the parish of St. George's and is 6 NM northeast of Bermuda's capital, Hamilton. In 2016, L.F. Wade International Airport handled about 402,925 passengers, up 5.6% from 2006. It has one passenger terminal, one cargo terminal, eight aircraft stands and can support all aircraft sizes up to and including the Airbus A380. Currently, seven airlines operate seasonal or year-round scheduled services to Bermuda Airport from Canada, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
Royal Air Force Burtonwood is a former Royal Air Force and United States Army Air Forces base that was located in Burtonwood, 2 miles (3.2 km) Northwest of Warrington in Lancashire, England. The base was opened in 1940 in response to World War II by the RAF and in 1942 it was transferred to the United States of America for war operations. The base was home to 18,000 American servicemen at the end of the war. In 1946 the base was transferred back to the United Kingdom however United States operations continued. The base officially closed in 1991 and since then the runway and most of the associated buildings have been demolished. RAF Burtonwood Heritage Centre was opened on part of the former base and focuses on the lives of the servicemen, the war and the airplanes at the base.
Kindley Air Force Base was a United States Air Force base in Bermuda from 1948–1970, having been operated from 1943 to 1948 by the United States Army Air Forces as Kindley Field.
A naval air station is a military air base, and consists of a permanent land-based operations locations for the military aviation division of the relevant branch of a navy. These bases are typically populated by squadrons, groups or wings, their various support commands, and other tenant commands.
Naval Station Argentia is a former base of the United States Navy that operated from 1941 to 1994. It was established in the community of Argentia in what was then the Dominion of Newfoundland, which later became the tenth Canadian province, Newfoundland and Labrador.
For Fort Pepperrell in New England see Harbor Defenses of Portsmouth#History
The United States Navy's Naval Operating Base was a seaplane base in Bermuda, the original U S Naval Air Station Bermuda. Following the US Navy's takeover of Kindley Air Force Base, the base was adapted to other uses as an annex to the new USNAS Bermuda, the NAS Annex. Following the end of the Cold War, the base was closed in 1995, along with other US Naval, Royal Naval, and Canadian Armed Forces facilities in Bermuda. At one point, the disused seaplane base/Annex was to be redeveloped into a golf course.
The Royal Air Force (RAF) operated from two locations in Bermuda during the Second World War. Bermuda's location had made it an important naval station since US independence, and, with the advent of the aeroplane, had made it as important to trans-Atlantic aviation in the decades before the Jet Age. The limited, hilly land mass had prevented the construction of an airfield, but, with most large airliners in the 1930s being flying boats, this was not initially a limitation.
Naval Air Station Bermuda, was located on St. David's Island, Bermuda from 1970 to 1995, on the former site of Kindley Air Force Base. It is currently the site of Bermuda International Airport.
Argentia is a Canadian commercial seaport and industrial Park located in the Town of Placentia, Newfoundland and Labrador. It is situated on the southwest coast of the Avalon Peninsula and defined by a triangular shaped headland which reaches northward out into Placentia Bay creating a natural harbour 3 km (1.9 mi) in length.
The 'Airport Security Police' is the police force of the Bermuda International Airport.
The Northeast Air Command (NEAC) was a short-lived organization in the United States Air Force tasked with the operation and defense of air bases in Greenland, Labrador and Newfoundland. It was formed in 1950 from the facilities of the United States established during World War II in Northeast Canada, Newfoundland and Greenland. It was discontinued in 1957.
Waller Air Force Base is a former United States Army Air Forces World War II air base located in northeastern Trinidad. It is located about 5 miles (8 km) southwest of Valencia south of the Churchill-Roosevelt Highway and roughly 32 km from the capital city Port of Spain.
Carlsen Air Force Base is a former United States Army Air Forces World War II airbase on Trinidad, consisting of two landing strips, "Edinburgh" and "Xeres". The airbase also included an emergency landing strip, "Tobago".
The North Atlantic air ferry route was a series of Air Routes over the North Atlantic Ocean on which aircraft were ferried from the United States and Canada to Great Britain during World War II to support combat operations in the European Theater of Operations (ETO).
The Icelandic Base Command (IBC) is an inactive United States Army organization. It was established for the United States defense of the Kingdom of Iceland during World War II. It was inactivated on 4 March 1947.
The United States Naval Station Whites Island was a United States Navy (USN) facility located on White's Island in Hamilton Harbour, in the British Colony of Bermuda, 640 miles off the coast of North Carolina.
The Bermuda Base Command was a command of the United States Army, established to defend the British Colony of Bermuda, located 640 miles off Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. It was created in April 1941 when United States Army troops were sent to the island.