Add MS 52563 is a file
containing correspondence between admirals
James Somerville and Andrew
notes: The letters are both handwritten
and, towards the end, typewritten.
Somerville's handwriting is very difficult
to read and any dubious interpretations on
SS-G's part should be checked by DI --
where SS-G has not been sure of something
? precedes the suspect word. The year date
has not been included in the letters but
has been added by, presumably, the binder
or Cunningham himself. Nearly every letter
ends in the same way with Somerville
wishing Cunningham 'old Andrew' luck and
support from everyone. The overall
impression gained from all of the
Cunningham papers is that Cunningham was
highly respected and that he was a very
genuine man whom very few people disliked.
All abbreviations etc have been kept
according to the original text.
4th October 1940?
'That was a pretty wet project that I
was called home to discuss. I was down at
Chequers when the remarks of the Cs in C
Middle East arrived -- about 01:00. The
P.M. gave an ? angry ? snort, thrust it
into my hand & said, 'Read that
Admiral & tell me what you think of
it'. Read it & said 'There's a lot of
sound horse sense in this & facts are
being faced'. As it bore out nearly all
the arguments I had been putting forward I
was naturally in agreement. Alex &
Steve, who both had their minds centred on
what they'd do when they got to the
promised land were most upset at my being
so critical & urged me to be tactful .
. .. There was a heated scene at the
Defence Committee at No 10 when D.P. made
a very clear ? statement so clear that the
P.M. at once said 'Well that settles it'
but added with a rasp 'Mind you I didn't
prepare it -- it was the Chiefs of Staff
who prepared it, not me'. And this was
perfectly true. . . . A sad affair & a
wicked waste of effort & time which
could have been spent more profitably.
Refers to the ship Prince of Wales either
giving way or going somewhere, try as I
might I couldn't get it ? Apparently the
P.M. & Anthony Eden insisted though
what it had to do with the latter I don't
know and can't imagine'.
23 November 1941
'So far as I can judge from the B.B.C.
the advance seems to be going according to
plan but I long to know what is really
happening & whether it is in fact
coming out according to plan. The French
situation in Tunisia is upsetting. I'm
convinced we ought crossed through made a
hash of our French policy during the last
6-9 months. Tough one week & all
smarmy the next'.
8 December ?1940 or 1941
["After the Board of Inquiry into
the Ark, I think"]
He Cork asked me not to be too hard on
the Admiralty & said there were people
inside & out of it (Tom P [P
(Phillips) added in pencil in what looks
like Cunningham's writing] &
Winston!) ready to raise their voices
without any knowledge of the facts'.
3 January 1941 binder
'In spite of my protests this bloody
stupid 'Action' continues. I hoped Fred
Collins would throw some light on the
matter but he says everyone is dead
against it in the Admiralty . . .
Apparently Winston is now the complete
dictator with Master R.K. at his elbow . .
. R.K. is the only real leader the Navy
has got and what the Navy suffers from is
lack of guts! The idea of putting that ?
vapourer in charge of Warships is
fantastic. I learn D.P. is livid about it,
If that's right then he ought to do
something drastic. . . . Fred Collins
tells me that a host of Flag Officers
(including himself) asked to be considered
as reliefs for me!! Just shows how a bad
smell suggests that something is dead. I
rather gather that Winston (who abbv for
mainly? makes the appts) is anxious to
heave could be leave me out but fears the
public might not like it & start
asking questions. A.V.A. is apparently
rather disturbed over the Dudley North
business & says the situation here is
'very difficult'. I reckon its time the
old Navy was purged of politics &
honest men left to ply their trade without
interference. But seriously Andrew I fear
the time is coming when we shall have
joined the Dictator countries & the
Great B.P. will wake up one morning, rub
their eyes & ask what or who we are
fighting for. Anyhow I hope to goodness
they'll have more sense than to interfere
with you. Let's start winning the war
12 June 1941 ['I think'
-- in what appears to be Cunningham's
'Mention of Alexandria After that has
been achieved I am sure the whole Navy
would welcome your relief so that you can
return home to become C.N.S. We might then
hope for someone who is not a yes man and
who will see that important decisions are
not usually relegated to the middle watch
amidst the aroma of very old brandy and
expensive cigars. I speak with some
acidity because I've seen it all
7 September ? 1941
'As you may have heard I flew home with
? goit on the 20th in order to try &
dispose of some of the wet ideas about
Gibraltar. They were in active circulation
& emanating chiefly from Chequers. . .
. Winston handed out butter with both
hands but as he treated us to a version of
the war in the Western Med, which lasted
till 03 00 I was able to give him my views
on Oran & Dakar including the passage
of the cruisers. I realise now I fell into
a trap because he obviously wanted the
other side of the picture in order to
dispose of it in the 'second world crisis'
which is passing through his head in
draft. People at the Admiralty Yes man
Alexander very pleased with himself &
at being so familiar with the generals.
D.P. not so tired as I expected & gave
me some valuable tips about wild cat
schemes Winston might broach at Chequers
-- which he did. I expressed profound
surprise & concern when they came
're concern from Somerville about Max
Horton's ? presence in the East and how
Cunningham had the complete confidence of
the fleet If an essential qualification
for command is to be a yes man &
refrain from speaking one's mind, then the
Lord help us.'
21 December 1941
'I quite agree with your remarks about
Tobruk. When I was at home the P.M ?
blathered to me about the number of times
Force H had been engaged on operations. I
told him that [something
unintelligible] we had an occasional
run [something unintelligible]
your ships were always in action &
that there was no comparison between the
strain on the two parties.'
27 October 1943 [section
'When I saw the Prime Minister just
before leaving England; he was most
insistent that the Admiralty rather than
the S.C. should control such operations.
Against the enemy fleet'
11 January 1944
'If the typing lady referred to in your
letter is the same one who accompanied us
to Washington, I can quite understand the
27 March 1944
'3. We dealt with some rather
extraordinary papers at the forenoon
Commanders in Chief's meeting this
morning; one paper suggested that the P.M.
himself was engaged in making out a new
CULVERIN plan & Dickie laid stress on
the fact that in last night's broadcast
the P.M. specifically stated that we
should leave the Pacific to the Americans;
he considered this was tantamount to an
assurance that the British effort in this
Theatre would be confined to the
18 July 1944 [Handwritten
note at the end of the letter:]
'I'm looking forward to my farewell
party & hope it will go according to
plan. It will certain [sic] do the
boys good to get their guns off -- if you
know what I mean'.
4 November 1944
'Nothing has occurred during the week
that I have been here to change my opinion
that this is a bloody awful job and
Washington is a bloody awful place;
needless to say this must be perfectly
stale news to you though perhaps you may
be surprised I should obtain confirmation