Atlantic 1939-1945: Battle of the Atlantic

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Telegram from Prime Minister Winston Churchill to US President Truman June 1945

Catalogue ref: PREM 3/413/7

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Telegram from Churchill to Truman; PREM 3/413/7

Extract b

Telegram from Churchill to Truman; PREM 3/413/7

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What is this source?

This source is part of a series of telegrams which the President of the USA and Prime Minister Winston Churchill sent each other during the course of the Battle of the Atlantic.


For most of the war the US President was Franklin D Roosevelt. He died in April 1945 and was replaced by Harry Truman.

What's the background to this source?

During the Battle of the Atlantic German U-Boats and aircraft tried to cut off Britain’s supply lines across the Atlantic. The years 1941 and 1942 were the worst years in the Battle of the Atlantic. In 1941 the British and their Allies lost 1300 ships and in 1942 they lost 1661 ships. By late 1942 Britain was only able to import about one third of the goods it normally imported in peacetime.


The tide began to turn in 1943. By that time British code breakers were able to read many German naval signals. There were also effective new weapons against U-Boats such as depth charges.

It's worth knowing that...

This source was one of a series of joint statements that the Prime Minister and President drafted and then published to their countries. It gives some indication of the importance of the Battle of the Atlantic that they concentrated so much time and effort on it.


By the time this statement was read out the war against Germany was over. The war against Japan continued until September 1945.

How will you use this source?

  1. What qualities brought victory in the Battle of the Atlantic?
  2. According to Churchill, what weapons and tactics deserved credit?
  3. What types of people does he praise?
  4. Does this source help you to explain why the Battle of the Atlantic was so significant?

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