This week in the War, 2–8 September 1940: destroyers for bases

On 3 September 1940 (the anniversary of Britain’s entry into WWII), Britain signed an agreement to receive 50 WWI destroyers from the United States. Some American and British sailors are shown here inspecting depth charges, with destroyers in the background.

At the time, Britain was sorely pressed to keep open its Atlantic life-line, although it has been argued that the destroyers also served Britain’s political aim at of pushing the neutral USA into slowly shedding her neutrality. Roosevelt complied—but it was a dangerous game for him to play during an election year.

In exchange, the USA leased British naval bases in Jamaica, Saint Lucia, Trinidad, Antigua and British Guiana. Bermuda was not part of the deal, but was added in at about the same time.

The US built an air base in Bermuda, naming it Kindley Field (left). Postwar, it was handed back and developed into Bermuda’s present-day International Airport (right).


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