Destroyers for Bases

Another story by Clarence Simonsen

Preserving the Past

Research and story by Clarence Simonsen

That was the title in LIFE magazine for the 16 September 1941 issue describing the trade of 50 old American destroyers for control of the North Atlantic. President Roosevelt acted alone when he transferred the 50 warships to Britain and acquired a 99 year lease for eight U. S. air and naval bases from Newfoundland to British Guiana.

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These first eight American bases would become the stepping stones for a new series of outpost air fields that would become dominant in transporting new American and Canadian built aircraft across the Atlantic to the war fronts. The northern route from Gander, Newfoundland, Goose Bay, Labrador, to Greenland, and Iceland, became the early staging routes to Scotland and England, but they became impossible in the Arctic winter months. That led to construction of a southern route from Miami, Florida, to Borinquen Field, Puerto Rico, then 1,058…

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