I am researching the events surrounding, and individuals actively involved in, the first war-time Anglo-American summit, the “Atlantic Conference,” which took place in at Argentia, Newfoundland from 9 through 12 August 1941. Most histories focus on the wording of the “Atlantic Charter” to the complete exclusion sub-meetings held by chiefs of staff and other high ranking individuals from the two countries. They also fail to mention that the “Atlantic Conference” was actually a war council where strategy, tactics and war materiel logistics were discussed in detail over a four-day period. Can you help me develop a comprehensive list of the individuals who were involved in conferences those four days? People like Sir John Dill, Admiral Ernest J. King, Lord Beaverbrook and Sir Alexander Cadogan were not there to simply to attend dinners. Have memorandums of those meetings have ever been released from the confidential files of either country, and if so, how I can obtain copies? —F.B., Alaska
Start by Googling some of these names, if you haven’t already. I did and linked the first of many references to each. On books, for the British participants, start with the Churchill official biography by Martin Gilbert, Winston S. Churchill, vol. 6 Finest Hour 1939-1941 and H.V. Morton, Atlantic Meeting. Morton, known mainly as a travel writer, was the “representative journalist” invited to come along with Churchill’s party, and has quite an interesting story to tell which touches on many British participants.
For the Americans, check standard works about Roosevelt and his colleagues during the war, such as Robert Sherwood, Roosevelt and Hopkins (New York: Harper & Row, 1948). The Library of Congress and Churchill Archives Centre websites may also offer some documents relating to participants and any documents pertaining to the meeting.
In my opinion Argentia was not a war council, since the USA was not at war, and remained out of it (to Churchill’s great frustration) throughout the autumn of 1941. In describing the Argentia meeting, even Churchill was circumspect about the USA’s actual intentions. The first true war council was the one in Washington after Pearl Harbor. Your idea to compile the reactions of the advisers and military chiefs at Argentia is most interesting and I hope you are able to produce a paper or a book.