The interactive parts of this resource no longer work, but it has been archived so you can continue using the rest of it.

Leaders & Controversies the national archives
Home > Kennedy & Cuba > Why didn’t this lead to nuclear war? > Source 2  
source two
Messages between Britain and the United States, 21-24 October 1962
(Catalogue ref: 2a-b, PREM 11/3689; 2c, PREM 11/4052; 2d, CAB 129/111)
PREM 11/3689; message from Kennedy to Macmillan, 1962 PREM 11/3689; telegram to Macmillan, 1962 PREM 11/4052; message from Macmillan to Kennedy, 1962 CAB 129/111; memo by the Lord Chancellor, 1962
2a 2b 2c 2d          
PREM 11/3689; telegram to Macmillan, 1962


  1. In Source 2a, Kennedy tells Prime Minister Harold Macmillan that there are Soviet missiles in Cuba. Kennedy refers to ‘the dangers we will now have to face together’. Are Britain and the United States really in this crisis together?

  2. Source 2b is the British Ambassador’s account of his secret meeting with Kennedy. According to him, why has Kennedy decided to take action?

  3. What might be the consequence of a U.S. air strike on Cuba?

  4. Why do you think Kennedy ended up rejecting the ideas of some of his military advisers who wanted an air strike or a full invasion?

  5. Source 2c is Macmillan’s reply to Kennedy. What aspects of Kennedy’s proposed actions worry the British leader? Name at least three aspects.

  6. Why are the British concerned about Berlin?

  7. In Source 2d, what is the opinion of the writer about the plan to blockade Cuba?

  8. What might be the consequences of a U.S. blockade of Cuba?

  9. Some historians think Kennedy's decision against direct military action was his most important decision of the entire crisis. Do you agree or disagree? Explain your answer.