Admiral Henry B. Wilson never wrote publicly, and seems to have spoken only once publicly, about giving Roy Howard the news he received from Paris on 7 November 1918 that an armistice had been signed with Germany. But he left a few private ‘False Armistice Papers’ which were to be used “in case of ‘attack’ on his memory after his death”. Centred around their contents, this article presents Wilson’s account of what happened. It spreads over a period of about twenty-seven years, and complements the ‘Roy W. Howard in Brest’ article on this website.
8 November 1918
The Navy Department demands “immediate explanation”
As the armistice news raced across North America on 7 November, provoking unprecedented scenes of public rejoicing and celebration, the State Department instructed American officials in Paris to find out how it had evaded the censors to reach the United Press (UP) office in New York City. Similarly, the Navy Department demanded to know from Admiral Wilson in Brest, the Commander of US Naval Forces in French Waters, and from Admiral W. S. Sims in London, the Commander of US Naval Forces in European Waters, whether they had been involved in releasing it.
The Secretary of the Navy, Josephus Daniels, had copies of the following cablegram sent to both Admirals:
“United Press announced armistice signed. Later they received cable quote Admiral Wilson, who announced to Brest newspaper Armistice had been signed, later notified announcement unconfirmed. Meanwhile French riotously celebrate. Howard unquote Did you make this or similar statement. Cable immediate explanation.” 1A i) and Addendum to this article.
It arrived in Brest “early in the morning” of 8 November, according to Wilson’s Assistant Chief of Staff who wrote about it in a memorandum many years later. 1B The Admiral replied the same day with the following report of what had happened in Brest during 7 November:
United States Naval Forces in France, Brest, France
8 November 1918
My dear Mr. Secretary:
I am in receipt of your cable ….
The facts are as follows:
[Concerning the armistice news from Paris]
Yesterday afternoon November 7, an official telegram in plain English came to the office from Captain Jackson the Paris Representative and the Naval Attache, which read as follows:
“Foreign office announced Armistice signed 11 A.M. hostilities ceased 2 P.M. today. Sedan taken this morning by U.S. Army.”
It being so apparently authentic, I allowed it to become known to the officers and men of my Force and the civil population including the little local newspaper. Two hours later I received the following message in code from the same source:
“Rush signature Armistice unconfirmed German representatives rush [reach?] borders 6 P.M. and let it be known at once, thereby killing the previous report.”
[Concerning Roy Howard and the armistice news]
When the first message came Mr. Roy Howard, President of the United Press, who had just come to town with letters from the President and yourself, was in my office and I let him know the contents. He asked to ‘use it’. I said ‘yes’ but it never occurred to me at the time that he meant by ‘using it’, to send it to the United States, my mind being entirely taken up with local conditions. From your message, quoted above, it seems that Mr. Howard sent the report home and that it was published. I can assure you that Mr. Howard acted entirely in good faith, believing as I did at the time that the report was true. Had I realized that the news was to be sent to America from this source and by reason of information received from me, I would not have authorized it. However, it is probable that even then I would not have made any determined opposition to the information being used as he saw fit, considering that there were censors at both ends of the line and the communications to America could go out only through properly authorized channels, none of which was controlled by me.
It was unfortunate that this thing happened, but any jollification here was perfectly orderly and the word ‘riotously’ as used in this connection was incorrect.
[Concerning his statement exonerating Howard and United Press]
P.S. [On 8 November] At Mr. Howard’s request I gave him for the information of the United Press Editors, but not for publication, the following statement. “Admiral Wilson today made the following statement for the information of United Press Editors. The statement of the United Press relative to signing of Armistice was made public from my office on basis of what appeared to be official and authoritative information. Am in position to know that the United Press and its representative acted in perfect good faith and that the premature announcement was result of an error for which agency was in no wise responsible.”
Ending his report, Wilson noted:
I have always been shy about appearing in the public prints and I shall try all the harder in the future to keep out. 1A i)
Thus, Admiral Wilson told Daniels he gave Howard permission “to use” the armistice news on 7 November not realizing Howard intended to transmit it to the United States. Had he realized this he would have refused the request, though would probably have relented because he knew the censors, over whom he had no influence, would stop the message.
He emphasised that he agreed to sign the 8 November statement clearing Howard and United Press of having fabricated the armistice news on the understanding that it was for use only within the UP organization and not for general release to the newspapers. It seems he did not learn until “some days later” that Howard had cabled the statement to New York, or, presumably, that the same day he signed it many American newspapers printed it as part of a UP announcement that the 7 November German armistice news “was made by Admiral Wilson at Brest and was filed to the United States with the Admiral’s approval”.
Whether Josephus Daniels sent a copy of Wilson’s report to Secretary of State Robert Lansing is not known here. Lansing himself requested reports from the American Ambassador in Paris and from Edward House, the President’s Special Representative there, about responsibility for the false armistice news. They told him Admiral Wilson in Brest had given the news to Roy Howard of United Press and helped make sure it was passed by the local censors, allegations most probably based on information obtained from the UP office in Paris. Wilson seems not to have become aware of these allegations until 1933 – fifteen years later – when the State Department publicised a selection of wartime documents. 4 (More details later in the article.)
Privately, Wilson denied any involvement in the sending of Howard’s armistice cablegram to America, and felt he had been deliberately misled over how his 8 November statement would be used. He refused thereafter to have any further dealings with Roy Howard.
The latter, for his part, appears to have been truly grateful to the Admiral for the 8 November statement, making his feelings known in communications to his UP colleagues at the time. Whether he also communicated them to Wilson is not certain –nothing in the Admiral’s ‘False Armistice Papers’ or in Howard’s archive suggests he did so.
Roy Howard’s appreciation for Wilson’s statement
During the afternoon of Friday 8 November 1918, very soon after obtaining the Admiral’s signed statement, Howard telegraphed as follows to United Press Vice-President Bill Hawkins in New York City (via the UP Paris office):
Admiral Wilson “HAS BEEN ABSOLUTELY SQUARE UNWELCHING SLIGHTEST THOUGH WE BEEN HELPLESS HAD HE WANTED SACRIFICE US SAVE HIMSELF”.
Apparently wanting no blame to be attached to the Admiral for releasing the armistice news in the first place, he told Hawkins
“DON’T FORCE ADMIRAL INTO MIXUP UNNECESSARILY DON’T KEEP DISCUSSION ALIVE APPRECIATE SERIOUSNESS TIME HEAL”. 2 a)
A few minutes later he telegraphed Ferguson again, directing him now to show Wilson’s statement to Special Representative House. With an obviously different motive, he wrote
“TELL HIM THAT I WORST SUFFERER ADMIRALS MISINFORMATION”, but added “REALIZE ADMIRAL ALSON VICTIM HAVE FOUND HIM REAL WHITEMAN”. 2 b)
And in a separate note to Paris that afternoon, Howard asked them, slightly ambiguously,
“FORWARD … FOLLOWING [TO] HAWKINS QUOTE HOWARD SUGGESTS CONSIDERATION REPRODUCING ADMIRALS STATEMENT TRADE PAPERS SIMMS UNQUOTE”. 2 c)
The latter could be interpreted either as a suggestion from Howard that Hawkins should consider having Admiral Wilson’s 8 November statement printed in the trade newspapers; or as a suggestion that such a use of the statement should show due consideration for Wilson and his reputation.
Hawkins did in fact release the statement to the newspapers, so the first interpretation could be said to be what Howard meant by the note. But the appreciation Howard expressed in his telegrams above, and information he put in a letter to Phil Simms at the Paris office on 9 November, suggests the second was foremost in his mind.
In the letter to Simms, Howard was effusive in his praise of the Admiral:
During Friday morning, Paris informed Howard that “the stuff had gotten through and been printed” in the United States. “There was nothing to do except put it up to Wilson”, Howard decided. He made his way to Navy Headquarters, was allowed to see the Admiral, and obtained “that statement of fact” from him.
Wilson told Howard that Secretary of State Lansing had contacted him about the armistice cable. The Admiral “knew full well that he was in for some grief too”, Howard observed. Indeed, he thought that when Wilson gave him the statement “he did it knowing that he might be writing his own resignation”.
Wilson’s action clearly impressed Howard:
“he never showed the slightest hesitancy or the slightest suggestion of intention to welch. If I am anything of a judge he is one WHITE man”.
And he told Simms he had asked Hawkins:
“to leave the Admiral out of the picture as much as possible because I am sure that he was sure that the information he was giving me was official. I am sure that he was bunked and that he is going to have his troubles too. Of course, he has no idea of what the thing means to us, but he could see that it was a bad mess and he came all the way through to do everything within his power to undo the damage”.
Intimating that United Press might have to speak out later on behalf of Wilson, Howard ended his letter:
“I am writing this to you because the matter may bob up again at some time and I want you and Fred [Ferguson] and [Ed] Keen to have the facts before you”. 2 d)
After the war, Howard wrote to Wilson a number of times hoping to meet him again – perhaps for lunch “some day with my partner, Mr. Hawkins and myself” – to discuss “some of the interesting phases of the incident [of 7 November 1918] which came to my attention on my return home”. But most of his letters apparently received no replies, and there were no other meetings with Wilson after November 1918. 1A ii)
The Admiral returned from France in February 1919 to become Commander-in-Chief of the Atlantic Fleet, until June 1921, and then Superintendent of the US Naval Academy at Annapolis, Maryland, until his retirement in February 1925. He may have been too busy to spend time discussing what Howard said he had later found out about the False Armistice. Or, more likely, he felt Howard was trying to draw him deeper into the False Armistice story for reasons of his own, and was not to be trusted with anything further he might say or write to him about it.
Arthur Hornblow’s ‘Fake Armistice’ article
During the summer of 1921, not long after he moved to the Annapolis Naval Academy, Wilson received a letter from Arthur Hornblow Jr who, as a US Army Intelligence Officer, had known the Admiral in Brest. In later years Hornblow became well-known as an author, playwright and Hollywood film producer, but in July 1921, at the beginning of his writing career, he had recently completed an article he called ‘Fake Armistice’ – a partly eye-witness account of 7 November 1918 events in Brest which he was hoping to have published. He sent a copy to the Admiral with a request for his comments on the text. Wilson obliged with observations on statements in the article relating to him, statements which add details to those in his report to Navy Secretary Daniels of 8 November 1918.
a) Statements in ‘Fake Armistice’ about Admiral Wilson
Promptly at four o’clock Howard had been presented to Admiral Wilson. They had not been chatting more than a few minutes when an orderly entered with a telegram for his chief. Reading it, the Admiral gave vent to an explosive explanation and bounding enthusiastically from his chair, handed the message to Howard. The latter beheld an official communication signed by Commander Jackson, the naval attache at our Paris embassy. It said: ‘ARMISTICE SIGNED THIS MORNING AT 11 ALL HOSTILITIES CEASED AT 2 P.M. TO-DAY’….
With quick sympathy for the people, Wilson at once despatched orderlies to bulletin the great tidings in the public square and ordered the band out to help the populace celebrate. Pursuant also to his commands, flags were spread all over the tall navy building until it was fairly lost to view in a blizzard of bunting ….” [pp8-9]
[Howard] was at Brest, the cable point, with hot news just off the official griddle that perhaps had not even yet been given to the press in Paris. He could beat every competitor in the business on the biggest newsbreak in the history of the world!
Admiral Wilson was entirely willing that Howard should take advantage of his chance, not because he was especially desirous that Howard should register a ‘beat’ but because he was anxious for the people back home to have the news as soon as they possibly could, an attitude in which, I believe, he was more than justified. In company, therefore, with Ensign Sellards to assist him in getting his message past the local French censor, Howard dashed to the Postes. Desiring to file a type-written message so there would be no misunderstanding on the part of the cable operator, Howard dived, en route, into the near-by telegraph room of the Dépêche and demanded a typewriter, explaining hurriedly his reason. [My italics]
Knowing that type of French official as I do, I am convinced that not even the Admiral in person could have caused the local censors to let by so portentous a message without having the O.K. of either the Ministry of War or the Paris censorship office. It was … the message’s looking as if it came from Paris … that resulted in its speedy transmission to America’s “noon editions”! [My italics] [pp10-11]
The blackest of black skies cleared considerably for Howard the following morning, when Admiral Wilson, every inch the gentleman and the man, took upon his own shoulders complete responsibility for Howard’s fateful cable. In Wilson’s statement, issued at once to the press, he did not even make mention of the naval attache who had sent or at least signed the erroneous communication from Paris. To the latter he referred simply as “what appeared to be official and authoritative information”. The career of a lesser man might very well have been marred by this brave assumption of blame, but then a lesser man would probably not have done it …. [p14.] 1C
Hornblow was not present at the above events, and it is assumed here that much of his description derived from what Roy Howard told him, and his own imagination. However, whether Howard was Hornblow’s source of the unequivocal claim that Admiral Wilson sent Ensign Sellards with Howard “to assist him in getting his message past the local French censor” is not certain. Howard had not stated as much in public in November 1918 – only that Ensign Sellards went with him to assist “in filing the [armistice] dispatch, as I do not speak French fluently”. 5
Hornblow clearly went further with his statement by alleging that the Admiral in fact instructed Sellards to help Howard with the transmission of the cablegram. But a few sentences later, surprisingly, returned to the suggestion in order specifically and firmly to dismiss any implication that Sellards was able to carry out the Admiral’s instructions: “Knowing that type of French official as I do, I am convinced that not even the Admiral in person could have caused the local censors to let by so portentous a message without having the O.K. of either the Ministry of War or the Paris censorship office”. As far as Hornblow was concerned, the sole reason for the cablegram’s “speedy transmission” was its deceptive appearance – its “looking as if it came from Paris”.
Admiral Wilson read ‘Fake Armistice’ “with much interest”, though he found some of its “facts” were not as he remembered them. Before raising objections to most of what Hornblow had written relating to him, he noted that he had kept a copy of a report he sent to the Navy Department the day after “the incident” which had served as a “very good aid” to his memory.
Wilson’s criticisms of ‘Fake Armistice’
The Admiral began with Hornblow’s passage about the armistice message and its arrival from Paris, explaining:
[The message was] a routine one from my representative in Paris who kept me informed of all reports and rumors. I have never told anyone from whom the message came, other than saying it was from our office there. It is true that one of his functions was Naval Attache, but those duties were small in comparison with others, and to have the article read that the message was from the Naval Attache is off, though perhaps, technically correct. I feel you do the office of the Naval Attache an injustice in so expressing yourself. It was from my office in Paris. I hope you see this. I gave it the same credence as the one hundred and one other messages I had received from time to time, some proving correct and some incorrect.
He then corrected Hornblow’s account of what occurred after Howard arrived at Navy Headquarters, which, he remarked, was “off a little”:
I had had the message for some time before Mr. Howard arrived, and it was lying on my desk when he came in. It is not exact to say, “They had been chatting for more than a few minutes when an orderly entered with a telegram for his Chief. Reading it, the Admiral gave vent to an explosive exclamation and, bounding enthusiastically from his chair, handed the message to Howard.” With mutual greetings between Mr. Howard and myself over, conversation lagged and, with a desire to make more, I asked him if this message was of any interest to him.
Quoting from his 8 November 1918 report to Navy Secretary Daniels, the Admiral informed Hornblow he had told Daniels he allowed Howard to read the armistice message, that Howard asked whether he might “use it” and that he replied “Yes”.
A few sentences later, referring to Hornblow’s assertion that he had used his influence to get Howard’s cablegram past the censors, he stated plainly:
[The armistice bulletin] was good local news for Brest, but news to go abroad had to be confirmed. I would not have asked the censors [to pass Howard’s cablegram] as you mention on page 11. Howard thought he had something. He said nothing to me of his intentions. Lost out and then came next morning for help. I could give him none. Told him he had been foolish etc. Then he asked me for something to protect himself. I asked him what he wanted me to say, and requested him to write out what he wanted and, if it were correct, I would willingly sign it.
And then quoted the statement he signed absolving Howard and United Press of responsibility for the false armistice news.
Turning to Hornblow’s comments that he ordered the US navy band “to help the populace celebrate” and gave instructions for flags to be spread “all over the tall navy building”, he made the following points:
About the band. It was a regular concert day and the concert had started sometime before the message came. No ‘blizzard of bunting’ was hoisted at our place on 7November. That happened on the 11th when the real word came. On the 7th there were displayed from our Headquarters the regular colors, and the bunch of three flags – one French, with the American flags on each side – that were put out on many occasions during the war.
Wilson concluded his letter with the request that Hornblow treat his comments as being “entirely confidential” and avoid using his name “in connection with anything … written herein to you”. He would have preferred Hornblow to leave his name out of ‘Fake Armistice’ altogether, disliking “very much to see [it] in print in any connection”, but conceded that this would have been asking too much. 3
Hornblow replied nine days later. What happened on 7 November 1918, he believed, did not reflect unfavourably on Wilson “in any way”. On the contrary, it showed that his “position in the matter was … entirely blameless and, in fact, praiseworthy” – a circumstance Hornblow said he had “endeavored to make … clear” throughout the article. He promised to “put to use all the corrections” Wilson had made and avoid “any manner of injustice” to him and his part in the False Armistice, but if the Admiral insisted on being kept out of the article Hornblow promised to “throw the whole thing in the basket”. 1A iii)
Evidently, there was no wish for Hornblow to go to that length. The article, amended to accommodate the Admiral’s (and Roy Howard’s) criticisms, was published in November 1921 under a new title.
b) Statements in ‘Amazing Armistice’ about Admiral Wilson
In ‘Amazing Armistice’ Hornblow removed the allegations that the Admiral had authorised Howard to send the peace news across the Atlantic and taken steps to make sure it would be cleared by the Brest censors. The statements that he had reacted wildly to the armistice news and ordered the navy band into the town square to celebrate the news were also changed. The sentence about flags and bunting on the US Navy Headquarters was deleted.
The amended passages read as follows:
Promptly at four o’clock Howard had been presented to Admiral Wilson. They had been chatting awhile when the admiral remarked that he had just received a message which might possibly interest Howard, and handed it to him for his perusal. Howard beheld an official telegram, signed by Commander Jackson of Admiral Wilson’s office in Paris and naval attache at our Paris embassy. It said: “Armistice signed this morning at 11 all hostilities ceased at 2 p.m. to-day.”
Desirous that the people of Brest learn of it, Admiral Wilson despatched an orderly to bulletin the tidings in the public square, where the naval band happened to be giving its weekly concert.
Admiral Wilson expressed his willingness that Howard should use the report. In company, therefore, with Ensign Sellards to assist him in arranging things, Howard rushed to the postes. But … dived en route into the nearby telegraph room of ‘La Dépêche’ ….
As in ‘Fake Armistice’, Hornblow insisted that the Brest censors had passed the cablegram for transmission to New York City because they believed it had arrived already censored from Paris. But he now removed his direct reference to “the Admiral” in connection with this:
Knowing that type of French official as I do, I am convinced that no one in Brest, of whatever exalted rank, could have caused the local French censors to let by so portentous a message without [the permission] of either the Ministry of War or the Paris censorship office. 6
7 November 1928
The Admiral’s newspaper interview
For the tenth anniversary of the False Armistice, Admiral Wilson apparently overcame his reluctance to have his name “appear in print” and agreed to be interviewed about 7 November 1918 events in Brest. Ironically, the reporter, Ralph H. Turner, was a UP correspondent.
By now retired, the Admiral and his wife were living in Tulsa, Oklahoma, near his daughter Ruth and her husband Patrick J. Hurley (soon to become Secretary of War in President Herbert Hoover’s administration). His account, which was printed in the California Madera Daily Tribune and Madera Mercury, is brief and entirely uncontroversial. The following are its main points:
“As Wilson tells the story, it was a routine day in Brest …. The admiral was in constant communication with Captain R. H. Jackson, then naval attache in the American embassy in Paris. Jackson sent daily, sometimes hourly, reports.
‘And then about 4 p.m. French time on the 7th there came a message from Jackson, saying the armistice has been signed,’ Wilson related …. ‘There was no special reason to doubt it. There had been reports on several days preceding that the Germans were ready to sign and that negotiations had been started ….’
Roy W. Howard … was in Brest that day on his way back to the United States after a trip to Europe. He heard the news, went to Admiral Wilson to confirm it, and received the admiral’s report. At 4:21 p.m., French time, Howard cabled the news to the New York office of the United Press …. Wilson said he has never learned the source of the information from the Paris embassy.” 7
Josephus Daniels and his memoirs
Daniels left the Navy Department in 1921, returned to his newspaper business in Raleigh, North Carolina, and remained active in Democratic Party affairs. He supported Franklin D. Roosevelt in the 1933 presidential campaign – Roosevelt had been Assistant Navy Secretary under Daniels – and when Roosevelt became President, Daniels was appointed US Ambassador to Mexico.
In July 1933, from Mexico, Daniels wrote a private letter to Admiral Wilson about the False Armistice events in Brest. He was collecting material for his memoirs, which were eventually published in two volumes during the 1940s under the title The Wilson Era. He told the Admiral that in a recent article written about the United Press he had read the “true facts” surrounding Roy Howard’s false armistice cablegram from Brest; and requested a statement from Wilson “very full and very clear of what happened and why you let Howard send the telegram, if you did”. He also asked for “a copy if you sent in a report of it to the Navy Department”. 1A iv)
In appreciation of “the many many considerations … shown … in the past”, Wilson agreed to Daniels’ requests. It took several months for him to prepare the information, which is in an eight-page typed-letter dated 1 January 1934 but not sent until 3 February (after his recovery from a bout of “the gripps” – influenza). It includes the following:
- a copy of his 8 November 1918 report to Daniels at the Navy Department (discussed above);
- some further recollections of his meetings with Roy Howard;
- comments on two 1933 magazine articles;
- comments on the dispatches from Paris sent to the State Department on 8 November 1918 by Special Representative Edward House and US Ambassador William Sharp;
- a statement from John Sellards about accompanying Howard to the La Dépêche de Brest building;
- some “Odds and Ends” items of information.
Wilson’s stand throughout the document, as in his 8 November 1918 report to Daniels, is that he gave Roy Howard permission to “use” the 7 November armistice news not realizing what Howard was planning to do with it; that he made no attempt to influence the local censors to approve Howard’s cablegram for transmission to New York City; and that he sent Sellards with Howard only to the La Dépêche building and not, therefore, to the Brest Post Office and telegraph room.
With echoes of some of the comments in his 13 July 1921 letter to Arthur Hornblow, Wilson related to Daniels:
Mr. Howard had come to the office (about 4 p.m. 7 November, 1918) for the purpose of securing passage home in one of the transports. He was accompanied by Major Cook, U.S.A., Aide to Major General Harries, U.S.A. Commanding U.S. Army Base Number 7 (Brest District). Passage home was arranged for Mr. Howard, then he was shown the message just received from Paris – perhaps to make conversation as much as anything else – adding as I handed it to him ‘This may interest you’. It was then that he said ‘May I use this’ and I replied ‘Yes’ – my thoughts being centred on our theatre of operations (the coast of France) his significance of his questions escaped me.
Before Mr. Howard left the office he expressed a wish to meet the editor of the local newspaper. I sent with him an aide [Ensign John Sellards] who knew the editor personally. The aide left Mr. Howard in the editor’s office.
That night (7 November) I dined with Vice Admiral Schwerer, French Navy Commander of the Brittany Patrols. Shortly after the dinner started my host informed me that some one wished to speak to me on a matter of much importance. Asking to be excused I left the table and to my surprise found that it was Mr. Howard who was waiting to see me. He was in a state of great agitation, saying that he had heard a second message had come killing the first one. I told him that was correct. He then said “My God! I have sent the word to the United States”. I replied to the effect that he had been foolish to do so.
[Note: – What I actually said was more emphatic. Mr. Howard had been given no confidential information, but he had violated a rule which required correspondents to submit all material for home consumption on matters relating to my command to a designated officer of my staff for an o.k. as to fact before handing the same to the censor. I also distinctly recollect that after my surprise I became curious – what about the censor? This official in no way came under my jurisdiction. I had never met the censor; never had seen him or knew where the office of the censor was located. Our own messages went out over our own direct lines to the U.S. Naval Headquarters in London. I had heard indirectly, however, from various newspaper men that the censor was very strict. Again I said to myself – what about the censor?]
Mr. Howard said that he “would not have had it happen for two hundred and fifty thousand dollars”; that the word he had sent “would go out to all the four hundred papers covered by the United Press, both in the United States and in South America”. He repeated the above statements and asked what I “could do to set him straight with the editors”. There was nothing I could do then, but he was obviously in distress and I suggested that he come to see me the following morning at nine o’clock.
Mr. Howard turned up the next morning (8 November) at the office promptly at the appointed time, and we had another talk. He was most emphatic that he wanted nothing for publication – just some word to take home with him to show his editors that he had acted in good faith. I was equally emphatic that nothing would be given him for publication. Finally I told him to write out what he should like to have me say, and if it were correct I would sign it. He did so. I made a few minor corrections and signed the statement. It was clearly understood between us that this statement was not for publication but was to take home with him for the information of his editors.
[Note:- Some days later I was told that my statement had been cabled from Brest. Whether this be true I never learned. I was not sufficiently interested to investigate. So many matters of importance turning up to occupy my time, I soon forgot about Mr. Howard and his troubles.]
At the end of his letter, Wilson referred again to his 8 November statement on behalf of Howard and United Press. With evident irritation, he noted that while Howard had said nothing about him in his armistice cablegram,
It was only when the information proved to be in error that the U.P. ran to cover, the source of the information [Admiral Wilson] revealed and the buck passed. I sometimes ask myself if the U.P. is not trying to make itself (and others) believe that it was the injured party. Well! The truth is that the U.P. was let out of a bad situation, of its own creation too easily. It should be appreciative of its luck. 1A v) [By ‘U.P.’ Wilson obviously meant ‘Howard’, the main target of these criticisms.]
Comments on two 1933 magazine articles
The first article Wilson commented on was the one Daniels had told him about in his 11 July letter from Mexico City. Written by S. V. Benét and published in the May 1933 issue of Fortune, it was a celebration of UP’s first twenty-five years. The part of the story that interested Daniels and Wilson came under the heading ‘Premature’. Two of its statements, the Admiral insisted, were untrue.
In rejecting the first – “Sitting in the office of Admiral Henry Wilson at Brest, Howard had been handed a slip of paper by the Admiral himself with permission to file it verbatim. It was an official dispatch from the Embassy at Paris, ‘Armistice signed at 11 A.M’” – Wilson referred Daniels to what he had already said elsewhere in his letter about permitting Howard only to use the message.
And dismissing the second – “Coincidentally, Admiral Wilson had sent a cable to Secretary of State Lansing assuming entire responsibility for giving out the armistice message. This was held by Lansing until President Wilson intervened [and] ordered its release at two o’clock on November 8, the day after the celebration” – he was adamant that no such “cable or letter” had gone to Lansing or the State Department from his office in Brest. 1A vi)
(This erroneous passage seems to relate to Howard’s 7 November cablegram cancelling the armistice news. 4)
The second article was one Wilson brought to Daniels’ attention. It was a feature, about Howard and his newspaper interests, that appeared in Time magazine in November 1933. Referring to the false armistice message, it declared that “Publisher Howard rushed to the cable office in Admiral Wilson’s car, with one of the Admiral’s aides to help get his message through the cable censor”. 1A vii)
Ignoring the nonsense about his car, Wilson reiterated that he sent Sellards with Howard only “to the office of the local newspaper [whose editor] Mr. Howard had asked to meet”.
And “in this connection” quoted from a letter he had requested from John Sellards about what happened after he left Navy Headquarters with Howard. Sellards wrote:
“I have a fairly clear recollection of events on 7 November 1918. I went with Mr. Howard to the office of the ‘Dépêche’ (the local newspaper in Brest), then back to your Headquarters. Putting his message through the office of the censor was handled by Howard. As I recall it none of us knew it at your Headquarters that the message had actually been sent until Mr. Howard came slinking back again filled with misgivings because he began to wonder if he had acted too hastily. It has always seemed to me that Mr. Howard distorts his version of what happened that day in Brest.” 1A viii)
Comments on the 8 November 1918 dispatches from Edward House and Ambassador Sharp to Secretary of State Lansing
Wilson also drew these two items to Daniels’ attention. They first appeared in print in July 1933 in a collection of wartime documents publicised by the US State Department.
Both reported that Admiral Wilson had helped Roy Howard with the transmission of his armistice cablegram. In his dispatch, House informed Lansing that, having “investigated this matter”, his understanding was that the armistice message had been sent to Admiral Wilson by Naval Attaché Jackson in Paris, that Wilson showed it to Roy Howard, who happened to be in Brest, and then “sent an aide with [Howard] to cable censor so that Howard would be permitted to send through a despatch stating that Armistice had been signed”.
Ambassador Sharp reported that a United Press representative in Paris had stated that Roy Howard telephoned from Brest that Admiral Wilson released the armistice news to him and the local press, and that “accompanied by one of Admiral Wilson’s aides [he] filed the cable to the United States which was passed by the censor”.
Explaining that he had neither seen nor heard about these two reports to Lansing before their publication, Wilson unreservedly rejected the claims made in them:
My only comment is that apparently both despatches are entirely based on identical information furnished by the Paris representative of the United Press; he – the representative – having carried on a “conversation by telephone”. The information – “accompanied by one of Admiral Wilson’s aides” – was not correct. No questions were asked our office. The facts could have been obtained by so doing.
And suggested that, as Daniels knew House, he might approach him for “some further information on the subject in question”. He ended with a copy of a letter from House he had found in his scrap book, presumably sent to him not long after the events in Brest:
Embassy of the United States of America
Vice Admiral Wilson
Dear Admiral Wilson,
May I not express to you my sincere admiration for your courageous action in the matter of the report cabled to America by Mr. Roy Howard of the United Press concerning the signing of the German Armistice.
I know the whole story and it reflects much honor upon you.
I am, my dear Admiral,
(signed) E. M. House
78 rue de l’Université, Paris” 1A ix)
There are no other letters in the Admiral’s ‘False Armistice Papers’ after his 1 January 1934 document to Daniels, so it is uncertain whether any subsequent correspondence occurred between him and Daniels or him and John Sellards about the events in Brest.
Apart from the letters, however, there is a memorandum which Mahlon S. Tisdale wrote at the Admiral’s request, for inclusion in the latter’s ‘False Armistice’ folder. Tisdale was Wilson’s Assistant Chief of Staff in Brest and also the US Navy Press Censor there, and stated that Roy Howard did not submit his armistice cablegram to him for clearance and that, consequently, he was not aware at first that the cablegram had been sent.
As he recorded in the memorandum:
Early in the morning of the day after Mr. Howard had sent the dispatch Admiral Wilson received an urgent query from the Secretary of the Navy. Admiral Wilson then directed me to ask the Army Cable Censor if he had released the dispatch. The answer was “No”. He then sent me to visit Mr. Howard at his hotel to learn who had authorized the release of the dispatch and by what means it had passed without our censorship. The local French high commander, Vice Admiral Moreau, the senior allied officer present, had phoned Admiral Wilson the previous night that he did not believe the report of the signing of the Armistice to be true and asked Admiral Wilson to cause the blowing of whistles and sirens of our ships to be stopped. So it seems reasonably certain that Mr. Howard could not have obtained an official release from the French Cable Censor.
I was unable to obtain any satisfactory explanation from Mr. Howard but he said he would come to see Admiral Wilson about the matter. As I remember, he said to me only that he had filed it in the cable office in the usual manner and presumed that it would pass thru the French Censor as a matter of routine ….
I do not know what passed between the Admiral and Mr. Howard during the subsequent visit except a hearsay knowledge of parts of the conversation as related in my presence by Admiral Wilson later. 1B
(In his letter to Daniels, Admiral Wilson included the detail about Howard’s failure to submit his cablegram for clearance by the Navy Censor, but without reference to the memorandum itself.)
Volume two of Daniels’ memoirs, which dealt with 7 November 1918 events in Brest, finally appeared twelve years after Wilson had provided him with the detailed information discussed above. In the meantime, Roy Howard’s own False Armistice memoir was published as the ‘Premature Armistice’ chapter in Webb Miller’s I Found No Peace, which Daniels thus had the benefit of considering before he committed himself to paper.
Roy Howard’s memoir
Howard clearly asserted in Miller’s book that Admiral Wilson gave him permission to send the armistice news to America and told Sellards to accompany him to make sure his bulletin was cleared for transmission by the French censors in the Brest cable office.
But there is nothing in Wilson’s Papers specifically about the appearance of the memoir and its allegations relating to him. Perhaps any written comments he may have made about them at the time are in his scrapbook (if it still exists).
Josephus Daniels’ memoir account
When it finally appeared in 1946, Daniels’ volume of The Wilson Era covering the period 1917-1923 presented what he described as a condensed version of “globe-trotter and correspondent plenipotentiary and extraordinary [Roy Howard’s] graphic account … of how he pulled off the Premature Armistice”. Relating what happened after Admiral Wilson told Howard and Major Fred Cook about the armistice news from Paris, Daniels quoted word for word from Howard’s memoir:
“I beg your pardon, Admiral,” I inquired, “but if this is official and you’ve announced it to the base and have given it to the local newspaper for publication, have you any objection to my filing it to the United Press?”
“Hell, no,” replied the Admiral. “This is official. It is direct from G.H.Q. via the Embassy. It’s signed by Captain Jackson, our Naval Attaché at Paris. Here’s a copy of what I have just sent to Dépêche. Go to it. By the way, unless your French is okay, perhaps I’d better – Here, Ensign Sellards, I’d like to have you take Mr. Howard over to the cable office. See that he gets this message through the censorship.”
“Thanks, Admiral,” I replied. “If this is quite okay with you, I’m going to take it on the run, and I’ll be seeing you a little later.”
“Okay, come back when you get through, and, Sellards, stay with Mr. Howard until he gets his message through, then bring him back here.”
Daniels then changed Howard’s sequencing of the events that ensued by quoting next Howard’s account of what happened in the Post Office and omitting his detailed account of what had happened beforehand in the La Dépêche building:
When Sellards and I reached the cable office with the re-typed message, the censor room was deserted, the entire personnel having poured into the streets to join in the mass celebration which was on in the Place du Président Wilson. Suggesting that I remain in the censor’s office, Sellards alone went directly to the operating room at the cable head. Due to his being known by all the operators as Admiral Wilson’s confidential secretary, he was able to expedite the sending of my dispatch and remained alongside the operator until the brief bulletin with its momentous potentialities had cleared into New York ….
The dispatch, not by design but by the purest accident of my being unable to use a French typewriter, resembled in all its physical appearance an ordinary United Press bulletin passed by the American press censor in Paris, and relayed via the United Press-Dépêche leased wire to Brest. Furthermore, its authenticity was vouched for by the highest American naval commander in French waters, through the medium of his own personal and confidential aide, Ensign Sellards.
At the end of the piece, he referred to Admiral Wilson’s 8 November 1918 report to him as Navy Secretary, stating merely that it “did not confirm all the details related by Howard”. He noted that Wilson had said he “did not send his aide to the censor’s office with Mr. Howard but to the office of the Brest newspaper”; and that he would not have authorized the armistice news to be sent to America had he realized that was Howard’s intention. But there were no further details and no mention of any of the other information Wilson had given to him in 1934. 8
Admiral Wilson copied out Daniels’ pages covering the events in Brest and appended his comments on them – what is probably his last written statement, his testimony in effect, on his part in the False Armistice. Under the heading “Notes by me – Henry B. Wilson”, he recorded the following:
Today – 19 July 1946 – I have read the book by Mr. Daniels, and gotten his point of view. Mr. Howard’s comments I read years ago. I have refrained from entering into a controversy with a newspaper publisher. But I have written a full account of the incident and stored it away with my other papers. And I can say that my interpretation differs widely from Mr. Howards or Mr. Daniels, and that mine is correct. Again and again I have been importuned to state the facts publicly in writing, but I have not walked into the trap. Several years ago Mr. Daniels told me that he was writing a book covering the war and asked that I give him my version of the False Armistice. For a long while I declined to do so. Later he asked again and I sent him a copy of my version that I had prepared and stowed with my papers. Evidently he was not interested in it, for he has almost completely taken the version of Mr. Howard – which version is far from the facts. But his
version yarn [sic] makes good news copy no doubt. Mine may not – but it is the true version.
Henry B. Wilson 1A x)
The Admiral died on 30 January 1954. A few months earlier he had entrusted his ‘False Armistice Papers’ to M. S. Tisdale, his former Assistant Chief of Staff, who noted on the cover: “I kept these for Adml Wilson for years – to be used in case of ‘attack’ on his memory after death. On 10 Apl ’53 in New York he asked me to accept them for any use or disposition I at any time deem best. I carried them from N.Y. to Wash. DC”. 1A xi)
Given the publication of Roy Howard’s memoir, the release not long before it of the State Department 8 November 1918 documents concerning Admiral Wilson and Howard’s armistice cablegram, and Wilson’s refusal to put his side of the story into print, it is not surprising – as the Admiral appreciated – that Daniels went along with what Howard wrote and ignored his objections to Howard’s allegations about him. Moreover, as Daniels must have realized, his memoirs were not the appropriate place to discuss and adjudicate Howard’s and the Admiral’s conflicting claims about what had happened in Brest.
Such a discussion is now offered here, together with an answer to the unavoidable question ‘whose claims should be believed?’
Howard alleged in his memoir that, prior to leaving Navy Headquarters, Wilson gave him permission to send the armistice news to America, and instructed John Sellards to make sure the censors cleared it for transmission. But he did not actually claim that the Brest censors cleared his armistice cablegram in deference to the Admiral’s wishes conveyed by Sellards. (Arthur Hornblow had firmly dismissed this notion in his 1921 articles, as did Fred Cook, indirectly, in his 1925 newspaper article.)
Howard stated that the censors in the Post Office were absent from their room – and therefore, by implication, did not have to be persuaded to pass the cablegram. But he then maintained that Sellards took the cablegram to the transmission room and remained there until it was on its way to New York City – his presence, as Wilson’s aide, in effect ensuring that the operators accepted it and sent it off.
John Sellards died in December 1938, a little more than two years after Howard’s memoir appeared in print. In his July 1933 letter for the Admiral, he had urged Wilson to write a book or series of articles giving his version of events in Brest, and offered to help him with the necessary preparation. “I am more convinced than ever, Admiral” he wrote “that you should give your story to the public”. 1A viii) Unfortunately he seems to have left no account of his own part in the disputed events other than the short statement in his 1933 letter.
Fred Cook, who was present at Howard’s conversation with Admiral Wilson between about 4:00 and 4:30 pm on 7 November 1918, was perhaps the only other person whose evidence could have helped resolve what really occurred there. But there is nothing in the Cook materials located for this website that does so. On balance, what Cook wrote about the events in Brest reinforce neither Howard’s claims nor Wilson’s and Sellards’ rebuttals of them. 4
The following inferences as to what is more likely to have happened in relation to Howard’s armistice cablegram are based primarily therefore on what Howard said about it on different occasions – that is, on the information from his sources discussed in the article complementary to this one on this website.
At Navy Headquarters, Howard did not state specifically that he intended to send the armistice news to United Press in New York City when he asked Admiral Wilson for a copy of it. And Wilson was not expecting him to do so when he agreed Howard could use the news and allowed his interpreter John Sellards to go with him to find the La Dépêche editor.
The La Dépêche building was Howard’s intended destination on leaving Navy Headquarters. He planned to prepare his armistice cablegram there and have it sent from there to the Post Office. It was not a matter of his merely calling there, on his way to the Post Office, to type a copy of the armistice message for the benefit of the Post Office clerk responsible for preparing telegrams for transmission and censorship.
Howard, genuinely believing the armistice news was true and that he may have received it before its release in Paris, had his cablegram set out in La Dépêche to look like one received there directly from United Press in Paris whose contents had been cleared by the censors. He knew that it would be accepted as such by the Brest censors and dispatched without unnecessary delay. He was hoping that, with luck, it would be released by his office in New York City ahead of armistice telegrams that would soon be arriving in America from rivals in Paris.
John Sellards left La Dépêche and returned to Navy Headquarters soon after Howard met either its editor or its telegraph operator. He did not go to the Post Office. The completed cablegram was taken to the Post Office by a newspaper employee – as was the usual practice with United Press bulletins from Paris on their way via Brest to New York City.
Howard remained in the La Dépêche building for some time, using its telegraph to communicate with his office in Paris. He had no first-hand experience of what was happening in the Post Office at the time. He stated he was told subsequently that the censors did not actually see his cablegram until two hours after it had been dispatched. If, as he also stated, they were absent from their room at the time – celebrating outside – he would have been told this detail also, or assumed it for the purposes of his memoir.
Howard’s likely motives for implicating Admiral Wilson and John Sellards in the transmission of his armistice cablegram
To Howard and his United Press colleagues, it seemed likely that the outrage that erupted over their handling of the false German-armistice news would severely damage the agency financially and ruin their reputations as newspapermen.
Faced by such a crisis, anything that might suggest Howard was not to blame for what happened must have been welcomed as a defence against their detractors and the potentially disastrous repercussions of publishing false war news.
Indeed, everything Howard said had happened between about 4:00 and 4:30 pm on 7 November gives the impression that – rather than being the initiator – he was carried along by events shaped mostly by other people’s actions. Thus, in his story:
- Having informed him of the armistice news and assured him it was official, Admiral Wilson readily allowed him to send it to the United States;
- Admiral Wilson, on his own initiative, also instructed Sellards to make sure the news was cleared by the censors;
- the La Dépêche telegraph operator put the armistice cablegram together for Howard, which then, by chance, looked exactly like an already-censored United Press telegram sent from Paris;
- In the absence of the censors from the Post Office, Sellards took the message to the cable-room and remained there until it was sent by the operator, his presence guaranteeing its dispatch;
- Howard’s attempt to cancel the armistice news, allegedly not long after he sent it, was delayed for several hours by the Navy Department in Washington, DC, thus allowing the erroneous news to spread as extensively as it did.
It could be argued that, because Howard acknowledged his cablegram was identical to one arriving from United Press in Paris, he could simply have stated that the transmission room operators accepted it as having come from Paris, already censored, and transmitted it without hesitation; and that, had he stated this, it would have been unnecessary to implicate Sellards in the proceedings. But the insinuation is that Sellards went to the transmission room to vouch for the cablegram’s “authenticity” in compliance with Wilson’s original instructions, and ensured the operators did not delay the (counterfeit) cablegram for any reason.
Perhaps not surprisingly, therefore, Howard’s memoir controverts all accusations made at the time, and any suspicions that may have arisen later, that he and United Press acted grossly irresponsibly, recklessly and unprofessionally on 7 November 1918 in pursuit of a German-armistice scoop. Accusations Howard remained especially sensitive about for many years and never completely lived down.
By attributing a principal role to Admiral Wilson in the transmission of the armistice cablegram, in 1936 Howard effectively abandoned his November 1918 wish, and the gratitude behind it, that the Admiral should be kept out of the story as much as possible. But even in 1918, while acknowledging that Wilson himself was a “victim”, he wanted it known that he was the “worst sufferer” from the Admiral’s “misinformation”. 2 b)
Josephus Daniels’ telegrams to Admirals Wilson and Sims
According to the copy Admiral Wilson kept for his scrap book, the message Daniels sent to him read:
United Press announced armistice signed. Later they received cable quote Admiral Wilson, who announced to Brest newspaper Armistice had been signed, later notified announcement unconfirmed. Meanwhile French riotously celebrate. Howard unquote Did you make this or similar statement. Cable immediate explanation.
(Attempts to locate this telegram in US Navy archives have so far been unsuccessful.)
There are no details to indicate when the message was sent from the Navy Department and received in Brest. However, Wilson replied to it on Friday 8 November, the day after the events referred to in the message; and according to a 1933 memorandum by M. S. Tisdale, Wilson’s Assistant Chief of Staff in Brest, the message had arrived on 8 November “early in the morning”.
This is most probably so. The words in the message between “quote” and “unquote” are from the third cablegram Roy Howard sent to United Press in New York City on Thursday 7 November, which finally cancelled the armistice news he had sent earlier that day. According to Howard’s copy of this message, it was ready to be dispatched at 10:50 pm on 7 November (5:50 pm Eastern Standard Time) and so must have been transmitted sometime after this.
Apparently, however, the US Navy censors delayed its delivery, for several hours, until Daniels was able to see it late in the evening of the 7th. (United Press did not receive it until 11:30 am on Friday 8 November.) Only after he read Howard’s cancellation cablegram could Daniels have had his cablegram to Admiral Wilson transmitted – during late-evening or not long after midnight on 7 November, and bearing in mind that French time was five hours ahead of Eastern Standard Time, the cablegram would indeed have arrived in Brest early in the morning on the 8th.
The following is an abridged version of the cablegram Daniels sent to Admiral Sims.
SECRETARY OF THE NAVY JOSEPHUS DANIELS TO VICE ADMIRAL WILLIAM S. SIMS, COMMANDER, UNITED STATES NAVAL FORCES OPERATING IN EUROPEAN WATERS
Chronological Copy. File No. <55-5-2>
Cablegram Received <November 7, 1918.> Y-40
Origin Opnav Washington (Secnav) Ser. No. 4780 Simsadus. [To Admiral Sims]
RUSH. United Press announced armistice signed. Later they received following cable QUOTE Admiral Wilson, who announced to Brest, France, newspapers armistice been signed, later notified announcement unconfirmed. Meanwhile French “riotously” celebrate. Signed Howard UNQUOTE. Did you make this or similar announcement? Cable immediate explanation. 14007.
R E T R A N S M I T.
Sent: 5:30 a.m., November 8, 1918.
Recd: 5:29 a.m., November 8, 1918.
(The full version may be accessed online through the Washington, DC, Naval History and Heritage Command website.)
The message is slightly different to the one sent to Admiral Wilson. But its date and time are given in the notation “14007”: 2:00 pm on 7 November, which was two o’clock in the afternoon in Washington, DC, seven o’clock in the evening in Brest and London in November 1918.
However, for the reasons explained above, the Navy Department could not have had Roy Howard’s ‘armistice announcement unconfirmed’ message as early as 2:00 pm on Thursday 7 November (it does state that United Press received it “later”).
What they did have by 2:00 pm – as the first sentence of the message indicates – was Howard’s armistice message which had reached New York City not long before midday and spread rapidly around the country.
Indeed, the cablegram Daniels sent appears to combine two items of information received at different times during 7 or 7-8 November. And as Sims’ copy is described as a “Chronological Copy”, and carries “RETRANSMIT” details, it may well be that two separate cablegrams were actually sent to him about the false armistice news. One, sent at 2:00 pm on 7 November, perhaps to the effect: “United Press announced armistice signed. Did you make this or similar announcement? Cable immediate explanation”. And the other, the “retransmit” one, sent at 5:30 am on 8 November, which added the information from Howard’s cancellation cablegram to the information in the 2:00 pm one.
The original 2:00 pm cablegram would most probably not have been sent to Admiral Wilson because Daniels had no reason at that hour to suspect that Wilson and Brest were in any way involved in the release of the false armistice news – Howard was believed to have sent his armistice cablegram from Paris. Admiral Sims on the other hand could have been expected to know something about it because the armistice news had been released in England just before 4:00 pm (11:00 am in Washington, DC) and the American Embassy in London, where Sims’ headquarters were located, was implicated in the event.
(Attempts to locate Sims’ reply to Daniels’ cablegram(s) in US Navy archives have so far been unsuccessful.)
© James Smith (July 2020)
REFERENCES and ENDNOTES
Archives Branch, Naval History and Heritage Command, Washington, DC.
Henry B. Wilson Papers, Box 1:
1A. Correspondence, 18 Jul 1919-1 Jan 1934.
i) This is from a copy of the message and his reply to it that Admiral Wilson kept in his scrap book. Quoted here from Admiral Wilson to Josephus Daniels, 1 January, 1934, pp1-3.
ii) Roy W. Howard to Admiral Wilson. July 18, 1919. (No copy in Howard’s Papers.) See the article on this website, ‘Roy Howard’s and Arthur Hornblow’s Information about False Armistice Messages’.
iii) Arthur Hornblow to Admiral H. B. Wilson, 22 July 1921. (No copy in Hornblow’s Papers.)
iv) Josephus Daniels to Admiral Wilson. Mexico, July 11, 1933. The article alluded to, ‘The United Press’ by Stephen Vincent Benét, was published in Fortune Magazine, Volume 7, No. 5, in May 1933. Available online, at http://www.downhold.org › The United Press.
v) Admiral Wilson to Josephus Daniels, 1 January, 1934, pp3-4; and p8 under ‘Odds and Ends’.
vi) Admiral Wilson to Josephus Daniels, 1 January, 1934, p4. An excerpt of the article is pp28-29 of the Papers in Box 1.
vii) Time, Monday, 20 November, 1933, under ‘Press’: ‘Howard’s Feather’.
viii) John Sellards to Admiral Wilson, 23 July (1933). It ispp16-17 of the Papers in Box 1; excerpt on pp4-5 of Wilson’s letter to Daniels.
ix) Admiral Wilson to Josephus Daniels, 1 January, 1934, pp5-6.
x) ‘Taken from … The Wilson Era, Years of War and After, 1917-1923, by Josephus Daniels. The Premature Armistice’, pp6-7. It is pp18-24 of the Papers in Box 1.
xi) On p25 of the Papers in Box 1.
1B. Memorandum, undated.
Memo to be attached to file of “False Armistice” papers of Admiral H.B. Wilson at his request. It is undated, but was prepared after 23 July 1933. It is pp26-27 of the Papers in Box 1.
1C. Monograph, “The False Armistice” [sic], undated.
Extracts are from Admiral Wilson’s copy of ‘Fake Armistice’, erroneously titled in the archive. (There is no copy of the article in Hornblow’s Papers.)
Roy W. Howard Papers, 1892-1964. The Media School Archive, Indiana University Libraries, Bloomington, Indiana.
a) Note Ferguson Unipress Paris. “Friday Nov 8, 1918 2.30 PM” (annotation). 19-20/34 in the collection of telegrams to be found at 7 November 1918: Armistice.
b) Ferguson Unipress Paris. “Friday Nov 8 1918 2.35 PM” (annotation). 21/34 in the collection of telegrams to be found at 7 November 1918: Armistice.
c) Note Unipress Paris. “Recu a 17.20” (annotation). 8/17 in the collection of telegrams to be found at 25 April 1957: To: Naoma Lowensohn. Armistice.
d) Roy Howard to Phil Simms, November 9, 1918, p3.
(Note: ‘White man’ = American slang of the period, with racist connotations.)
Arthur and Leonora Hornblow Papers, Margaret Herrick Library, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, Beverly Hills, California.
Admiral Henry B. Wilson to Arthur Hornblow, 13 July 1921. (No copy in the Wilson Papers)
For some background biographical information, see Arthur Hornblow, Jr (1893-1976) under ‘Eye witnesses in Brest on 7 November 1918’ in the ‘False Armistice Commentary’ item on this website.
4. See the ‘Roy W. Howard in Brest’article on this website.
5. The New York Times, 21 November 1918, under ‘Howard Excuses False Peace Report’. Available through NYTimes.com ‘Free to Read Articles 1918’ website.
6. ‘The Amazing Armistice: Inside Story of the Premature Peace Report’, pp94-95. Published originally in The Century Magazine, November 1921. Available online.
7. The Madera Daily Tribune and Madera Mercury (California), 7 November 1928, p3, under ‘World War Officials Give Story of How False Report Started’. Available online through the California Digital Newspaper Collection website. This is one of two articles on the page about the False Armistice, but paragraphs from both evidently became mixed-up during the typesetting, causing some confusion in the narrative.
8. Josephus Daniels, The Wilson Era: Years of War and After, 1917-1923, pp339-341; and p343. (1946)