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Shipping Munitions
Dudley Field Malone at the time of his appointment as  US Collector of Customs for the Port of New York, 1913. (Library of Congress).
As mentioned on the Deadly Cargo page of this website, the British Army was firing more shells per week than Britain’s armaments factories produced. The British therefore had a truly desperate need to import munitions of war. The British imported munitions from Russia already, but this simply wasn’t enough to meet demand, so the British Government turned to the then neutral United States as well. The outbreak of the European War in August 1914 had produced internationally economically recessive times of course. By the end of the first quarter of 1915, that recession was being felt. The American President, Woodrow Wilson, clearly wanted this munitions export business, as it was a multi-million dollar trade and therefore a much-needed shot in the arm for American industry. Furthermore, he was up for re-election in 1916, but however he secured the deal, he still had to be outwardly seen as upholding US neutrality and the only way to get these American-made munitions to England was across the Atlantic Ocean, by ship. The trouble was that the British needed ready-made munitions urgently. Just sending the components for British factories to produce shells from was not an option. The British factories were critically short on output. British reserve stocks were down to about a three month period to exhaustion and even that narrow margin was getting narrower by the week. Regular cargo ships usually took about ten days to cross the Atlantic. Ten days might suffice for more non- urgent items, but ready-to-use munitions just had to make it to England sooner. The fastest ships were the  ransatlantic liners of the Cunard and White Star Lines, and others like them, but it wasn’t legal to ship explosives aboard passenger vessels,  for obvious reasons. What was needed was a way to make it legal. It transpired that it was legal to ship ordinary bullets aboard passenger trains and coastal passenger ships in certain parts of America. This had come about as the result of an open air demonstration before the Municipal Explosives Commission of New York City a few years before. A stack of crated pistol ammunition was deliberately set on fire to see if it exploded. It didn’t. It burned fiercely, but out in the open air, with nothing to confine the burning gases or intensify the heat, it didn’t explode as such. It also helped that the ammunition used for the demonstration consisted of obsolete, black powder filled cartridges. Suitably impressed by the resultant non explosion, the MEC of NYC sanctioned the transporting of such NON EXPLOSIVE ammunition on public transport, including passenger ships, as long as the cases they were in were clearly marked NON EXPLOSIVE. The MEC’s sanctioning was then turned into the basis for the WHOLESALE EXPORT of munitions from the Port of New York.  The Port of New York was of course where the bulk of the transatlantic liners docked. The relevant legislation was quickly put into place. They’d just made it “legal”, by a thread, but it was still better, certainly at this stage, if this rather thin veneer wasn’t subjected to too much public scrutiny. Strictly speaking of course, the cargoes WERE contraband, because munitions ARE explosive. Once again, the demonstration before the MEC, and the outcome of it, was thoroughly reported in the New York Times. The British Government placed their munitions import orders with the Admiralty’s Trade Division, who in turn placed the orders with American businessman J Pierpoint Morgan, owner of the International Mercantile Marine Company. Morgan was officially appointed as sole purchaser for the British Government’s munitions requirements in January of 1915 and he worked as such on the basis of his receiving a 1% commission of all order values. Morgan in turn, used a complex chain of fictitious companies to secure the necessary items. The IMM’s ships and passengers then became the unwitting carriers of this contraband, assisted by any ships the British Admiralty had any control over or could otherwise charter. In order to get the vital munitions aboard the chosen passenger ships, it became standard practice to file a less than truthful manifest with the US Collector of Customs in the Port of New York. This manifest would show a purely general cargo. Later, once each ship had left US territorial waters, a “Supplemental Manifest” would be filed with the Customs office, listing any “last minute provisions or cargo items” that had been loaded, though the nature of any obviously suspect consignments would be slightly altered or otherwise listed. But what if the Collector of Customs found out? A far better question is: What if the Collector of Customs was in on it in the first place? But why on Earth would the US Collector of Customs acquiesce in such a practice? To issue a ship with a sailing clearance certificate, which is after all a legal document, knowing it was based on a less than truthful manifest, was surely a criminal offence? Are we talking Bribery? Corruption? Ignorance? Or even just a conspiracy theory? If it were true, that this Customs Official knew what was going on and that he willingly took a part in it, surely he’d have ended up in prison sooner or later? So, who was the US Collector of Customs for the Port of New York in 1915? That man was Dudley Field Malone. An active member of the Democrat Party, Dudley Malone was the son of a Philadelphia Democratic Official; William C. Malone and Rose (McKenny) Malone. He was born on June 3rd  1882. Malone was put in the office of Collector of Customs for the Port of New York by President Woodrow Wilson in 1913, though Wilson needed the backing of his friend, New York Senator James A O' Gorman, to secure Malone’s appointment. O' Gorman was very much the rising star in the New York Democrat camp at that time. He was already on NYC's Legislature Committee and with his appointment to the Foreign Relations Committee in 1913 O’ Gorman’s influence, especially in New York, was assured. Senator O' Gorman readily consented to Wilson’s wish, mainly because Dudley Malone had been married to his daughter, May O’ Gorman, for five years at the time. Malone was a Lawyer by trade, specialising in Divorce and Probate. He was also very much a personal friend and political ally of President Wilson's. Both Wilson and Malone often spoke publicly and in the press, in support of each other. Malone went on the campaign trail with Wilson for the President's 1916 re-election campaign. Being O'Gorman's son-in-law would undoubtedly have been beneficial on the campaign trail too. Malone however, had a lot of political and financial skeletons rattling around in his closet: Skeletons that had a nasty habit of exposing themselves every now and again. Skeletons such as his being under official investigation for aspects of his estate lawyering activities, in March of 1916. Malone had stood accused of fraudulently hiding assets, possessing dubious "gifts" and other financial irregularities. This was to be a recurrent theme in his life. After Wilson's re-election, Malone resigned as Collector of Customs due to a political disagreement with Wilson over the women's movement, being succeeded as Collector by Byron P Newton in October of 1917. Malone then announced his public support for the Socialist Morris Hillquit, in his quest to become Mayor of NYC. Malone himself was being publicly attacked in the press at that time by members of the Roman Catholic Church in Brooklyn, over his politics. Malone’s own arrogance seems to have prevented him from realising that he was becoming something of a liability to the Democrats by then. By 1918 however, he was back in the Democrat fold again, fighting the feminist cause in support of Wilson; but not for long. In 1920 he ran for Governor of New York on the Farmer-Labour Party ticket, earning just 69,908 votes versus 1,335,617 votes for winning Republican Nathan L. Miller, 1,261,729 for incumbent Democrat Al Smith and 171,907 for the Socialist Joseph Cannon. After this ignominious defeat, Malone left the Democrats to become an Independent. In 1921, his wife May O' Gorman, divorced him, and he took another wife, the feminist and writer Doris Stevens. They moved to Paris, France, where he'd recently set up a Law firm. However, he was soon back home in the States and being sued for malpractice by one or two of his French clients. In 1929, his second wife also divorced him. He spent most of the early thirties flitting backwards and forwards between the US and France whilst still being pursued by at least three of his more notable clients over money. He then married Edna L. Johnson in a London Registry Office in January of 1930. In 1931, he and his third wife went on a cruise to Bermuda, probably to escape the ever growing number of his clients who were hounding him over money. By 1935, he had filed for bankruptcy, owing more than $260,000, though he managed to wriggle out of one of the law suits against him.  In 1943, he played the part of his old friend, WINSTON CHURCHILL, in a propaganda film called Mission to Moscow. In 1949, he was beaten up at the roadside by two men, which hardly seems surprising at all.  He died at Culver City Hospital, California, in 1950. Ever the social-climber, Dudley Malone seems to have been rather a shady character, to say the least. So, to return to the question of “What if the US Collector of Customs was in on it in the first place?” Malone knew exactly what was taking place, but he was instructed to turn a blind eye to the practice. Malone would issue a sailing clearance certificate for each ship, usually the day before its scheduled departure, based only on what was called a “Loading Manifest”. Something like the real manifest, the “Supplemental Manifest”, would be filed about three days after each ship had sailed, when it was too late to do anything about it anyway. During the outcry over the Lusitania case, Malone was asked by a reporter from the New York Times, in his position as Collector of Customs, if projectiles such as those used by the Artillery could be classed as explosives. He was quoted in the paper as stating that: “If no fuse was fitted to them then they would be classified as being NON-EXPLOSIVE. Therefore any such projectiles as might be loaded aboard a passenger ship would not be illegal under US law, as long as it appeared on the manifest”.  In short, he’d been treating artillery shells as being nothing more than “big bullets” and bullets were what the Municipal Explosives Committee of NYC had initially sanctioned. If the fuse wasn’t fitted to it, then the shell, in theory, had no means of detonation. Kapitan-Leutnant Schwieger of course changed that, on Friday 7th May, 1915, by inadvertently introducing a G6 torpedo amongst 5,000 of these supposedly NON-EXPLOSIVE “big bullets”.  With his good friend Senator James A O' Gorman on New York City's Legislature Committee it was obviously made much easier for President Wilson to go a step further and get these now miraculously “empty”/NON-EXPLOSIVE” munitions made legal to transport on transatlantic passenger ships. Of course, Wilson also had another personal friend, O' Gorman's son-in-law, Dudley Malone, whom he’d personally put at the Head of Customs in New York, who could then "legally" clear these munitions to be loaded onto eastbound passenger ships. Given Malone’s background, then and since, it would indeed seem highly likely that the wilful and knowing issuing of sailing clearances on the basis of a less than truthful manifest, would not have been beyond Dudley Malone at all. One week after the Lusitania disaster, The International Mercantile Marine Company announced in the New York Times that “in future, IMM ships would no longer carry munitions of war as cargo”. The words in future and no longer should be particularly noted!  Despite this most public statement, liners of the White Star Line, (who were owned by IMM), continued to sail from New York with vast quantities of war materials in their holds. Their departures and the nature of their cargoes were regularly published in the New York Times. On December 10th, 1915, seven months after the Lusitania was sunk, the New York Times announced that the White Star Liner Adriatic had left New York carrying 18,000 tons of war munitions for the Allies. Among the cargo items listed were 5,973 “empty” shells (NON EXPLOSIVE of course). The ship’s total cargo was valued at $10,000,000. Less than a year later, in August of 1916, the New York Times again reported the sailing of another White Star Liner, one of Adriatic’s sisters, the Baltic, carrying 18,500 tons of war munitions for the Allies. Such reports were usually printed about three days after the ship had left, once their supplemental manifests had been filed with Malone’s office. That gives an idea of the scale of the munitions shipping operation: TWENTY MILLION DOLLARS worth of munitions exports, on just those two ships alone, on ONE voyage. It is also worth noting that the Adriatic and the Baltic were both about one third smaller than the Lusitania. Another interesting sub-point is that Charles M Schwab, President of the Bethlehem Steel Corporation, who manufactured most of the munitions that were being shipped to Britain on these liners, was himself a regular passenger on both the Lusitania and the Mauretania.In the wake of the Lusitania disaster, “Champagne Charlie” as he was known, was asked by the New York Times if it was normal for his munitions products to leave the factory in crates marked NON EXPLOSIVE. He stated that he had no idea, as he wasn’t often there.In fact, he said; in the week that the Lusitania had been sunk, he’d been away, so he felt he couldn’t possibly comment on the matter further anyway. By the end of 1915, the year in which the Lusitania was sunk, exports of American-made munitions to Great Britain had totalled $199, 627, 324. The monthly average for munitions exports during the period 1st Jan 1915 to 1st Jan 1916 was $74, 003, 583. Both of these figures were proudly announced in the business pages of the New York Times of September 7th 1916. By the time of the US entry into World War 1 in 1917, it had well and truly passed the $1bn mark. All of it of course, had been sent by ship, and not just from the port of New York. There were shipments from Boston and Philadelphia too. We’ll leave you to work out what commission J P Morgan had earned for himself as sole purchasing agent, at 1% of all orders!
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Shipping Munitions
Dudley Field Malone at the time of his appointment as  US Collector of Customs for the Port of New York, 1913. (Library of Congress).
As mentioned on the Deadly Cargo page of this website, the British Army was firing more shells per week than Britain’s armaments factories produced. The British therefore had a truly desperate need to import munitions of war. The British imported munitions from Russia already, but this simply wasn’t enough to meet demand, so the British Government turned to the then neutral United States as well. The outbreak of the European War in August 1914 had produced internationally economically recessive times of course. By the end of the first quarter of 1915, that recession was being felt. The American President, Woodrow Wilson, clearly wanted this munitions export business, as it was a multi-million dollar trade and therefore a much-needed shot in the arm for American industry. Furthermore, he was up for re-election in 1916, but however he secured the deal, he still had to be outwardly seen as upholding US neutrality and the only way to get these American-made munitions to England was across the Atlantic Ocean, by ship. The trouble was that the British needed ready-made munitions urgently. Just sending the components for British factories to produce shells from was not an option. The British factories were critically short on output. British reserve stocks were down to about a three month period to exhaustion and even that narrow margin was getting narrower by the week. Regular cargo ships usually took about ten days to cross the Atlantic. Ten days might suffice for more non-urgent items, but ready-to-use munitions just had to make it to England sooner. The fastest ships were the  transatlantic liners of the Cunard and White Star Lines, and others like them, but it wasn’t legal to ship explosives aboard passenger vessels, for obvious reasons. What was needed was a way to make it legal. It transpired that it was legal to ship ordinary bullets aboard passenger trains and coastal passenger ships in certain parts of America. This had come about as the result of an open air demonstration before the Municipal Explosives Commission of New York City a few years before. A stack of crated pistol ammunition was deliberately set on fire to see if it exploded. It didn’t. It burned fiercely, but out in the open air, with nothing to confine the burning gases or intensify the heat, it didn’t explode as such. It also helped that the ammunition used for the demonstration consisted of obsolete, black powder filled cartridges. Suitably impressed by the resultant non explosion, the MEC of NYC sanctioned the transporting of such NON EXPLOSIVE ammunition on public transport, including passenger ships, as long as the cases they were in were clearly marked NON EXPLOSIVE. The MEC’s sanctioning was then turned into the basis for the WHOLESALE EXPORT of munitions from the Port of New York.  The Port of New York was of course where the bulk of the transatlantic liners docked. The relevant legislation was quickly put into place. They’d just made it “legal”, by a thread, but it was still better, certainly at this stage, if this rather thin veneer wasn’t subjected to too much public scrutiny. Strictly speaking of course, the cargoes WERE contraband, because munitions ARE explosive. Once again, the demonstration before the MEC, and the outcome of it, was thoroughly reported in the New York Times. The British Government placed their munitions import orders with the Admiralty’s Trade Division, who in turn placed the orders with American businessman J Pierpoint Morgan, owner of the International Mercantile Marine Company. Morgan was officially appointed as sole purchaser for the British Government’s munitions requirements in January of 1915 and he worked as such on the basis of his receiving a 1% commission of all order values. Morgan in turn, used a complex chain of fictitious companies to secure the necessary items. The IMM’s ships and passengers then became the unwitting carriers of this contraband, assisted by any ships the British Admiralty had any control over or could otherwise charter. In order to get the vital munitions aboard the chosen passenger ships, it became standard practice to file a less than truthful manifest with the US Collector of Customs in the Port of New York. This manifest would show a purely general cargo. Later, once each ship had left US territorial waters, a “Supplemental Manifest” would be filed with the Customs office, listing any “last minute provisions or cargo items” that had been loaded, though the nature of any obviously suspect consignments would be slightly altered or otherwise listed. But what if the Collector of Customs found out? A far better question is: What if the Collector of Customs was in on it in the first place? But why on Earth would the US Collector of Customs acquiesce in such a practice? To issue a ship with a sailing clearance certificate, which is after all a legal document, knowing it was based on a less than truthful manifest, was surely a criminal offence? Are we talking Bribery? Corruption? Ignorance? Or even just a conspiracy theory? If it were true, that this Customs Official knew what was going on and that he willingly took a part in it, surely he’d have ended up in prison sooner or later? So, who was the US Collector of Customs for the Port of New York in 1915? That man was Dudley Field Malone. An active member of the Democrat Party, Dudley Malone was the son of a Philadelphia Democratic Official; William C. Malone and Rose (McKenny) Malone. He was born on June 3rd  1882. Malone was put in the office of Collector of Customs for the Port of New York by President Woodrow Wilson in 1913, though Wilson needed the backing of his friend, New York Senator James A O' Gorman, to secure Malone’s appointment. O' Gorman was very much the rising star in the New York Democrat camp at that time. He was already on NYC's Legislature Committee and with his appointment to the Foreign Relations Committee in 1913 O’ Gorman’s influence, especially in New York, was assured. Senator O' Gorman readily consented to Wilson’s wish, mainly because Dudley Malone had been married to his daughter, May O’ Gorman, for five years at the time. Malone was a Lawyer by trade, specialising in Divorce and Probate. He was also very much a personal friend and political ally of President Wilson's. Both Wilson and Malone often spoke publicly and in the press, in support of each other. Malone went on the campaign trail with Wilson for the President's 1916 re-election campaign. Being O'Gorman's son-in-law would undoubtedly have been beneficial on the campaign trail too. Malone however, had a lot of political and financial skeletons rattling around in his closet: Skeletons that had a nasty habit of exposing themselves every now and again. Skeletons such as his being under official investigation for aspects of his estate lawyering activities, in March of 1916. Malone had stood accused of fraudulently hiding assets, possessing dubious "gifts" and other financial irregularities. This was to be a recurrent theme in his life. After Wilson's re-election, Malone resigned as Collector of Customs due to a political disagreement with Wilson over the women's movement, being succeeded as Collector by Byron P Newton in October of 1917. Malone then announced his public support for the Socialist Morris Hillquit, in his quest to become Mayor of NYC. Malone himself was being publicly attacked in the press at that time by members of the Roman Catholic Church in Brooklyn, over his politics. Malone’s own arrogance seems to have prevented him from realising that he was becoming something of a liability to the Democrats by then. By 1918 however, he was back in the Democrat fold again, fighting the feminist cause in support of Wilson; but not for long. In 1920 he ran for Governor of New York on the Farmer-Labour Party ticket, earning just 69,908 votes versus 1,335,617 votes for winning Republican Nathan L. Miller, 1,261,729 for incumbent Democrat Al Smith and 171,907 for the Socialist Joseph Cannon. After this ignominious defeat, Malone left the Democrats to become an Independent. In 1921, his wife May O' Gorman, divorced him, and he took another wife, the feminist and writer Doris Stevens. They moved to Paris, France, where he'd recently set up a Law firm. However, he was soon back home in the States and being sued for malpractice by one or two of his French clients. In 1929, his second wife also divorced him. He spent most of the early thirties flitting backwards and forwards between the US and France whilst still being pursued by at least three of his more notable clients over money. He then married Edna L. Johnson in a London Registry Office in January of 1930. In 1931, he and his third wife went on a cruise to Bermuda, probably to escape the ever growing number of his clients who were hounding him over money. By 1935, he had filed for bankruptcy, owing more than $260,000, though he managed to wriggle out of one of the law suits against him.  In 1943, he played the part of his old friend, WINSTON CHURCHILL, in a propaganda film called Mission to Moscow. In 1949, he was beaten up at the roadside by two men, which hardly seems surprising at all.  He died at Culver City Hospital, California, in 1950. Ever the social-climber, Dudley Malone seems to have been rather a shady character, to say the least. So, to return to the question of “What if the US Collector of Customs was in on it in the first place?” Malone knew exactly what was taking place, but he was instructed to turn a blind eye to the practice. Malone would issue a sailing clearance certificate for each ship, usually the day before its scheduled departure, based only on what was called a “Loading Manifest”. Something like the real manifest, the “Supplemental Manifest”, would be filed about three days after each ship had sailed, when it was too late to do anything about it anyway. During the outcry over the Lusitania case, Malone was asked by a reporter from the New York Times, in his position as Collector of Customs, if projectiles such as those used by the Artillery could be classed as explosives. He was quoted in the paper as stating that: “If no fuse was fitted to them then they would be classified as being NON-EXPLOSIVE. Therefore any such projectiles as might be loaded aboard a passenger ship would not be illegal under US law, as long as it appeared on the manifest”. In short, he’d been treating artillery shells as being nothing more than “big bullets” and bullets were what the Municipal Explosives Committee of NYC had initially sanctioned. If the fuse wasn’t fitted to it, then the shell, in theory, had no means of detonation. Kapitan-Leutnant Schwieger of course changed that, on Friday 7th May, 1915, by inadvertently introducing a G6 torpedo amongst 5,000 of these supposedly NON-EXPLOSIVE “big bullets”.  With his good friend Senator James A O' Gorman on New York City's Legislature Committee it was obviously made much easier for President Wilson to go a step further and get these now miraculously “empty”/NON-EXPLOSIVE” munitions made legal to transport on transatlantic passenger ships. Of course, Wilson also had another personal friend, O' Gorman's son-in-law, Dudley Malone, whom he’d personally put at the Head of Customs in New York, who could then "legally" clear these munitions to be loaded onto eastbound passenger ships. Given Malone’s background, then and since, it would indeed seem highly likely that the wilful and knowing issuing of sailing clearances on the basis of a less than truthful manifest, would not have been beyond Dudley Malone at all. One week after the Lusitania disaster, The International Mercantile Marine Company announced in the New York Times that “in future, IMM ships would no longer carry munitions of war as cargo”. The words in future and no longer should be particularly noted!  Despite this most public statement, liners of the White Star Line, (who were owned by IMM), continued to sail from New York with vast quantities of war materials in their holds. Their departures and the nature of their cargoes were regularly published in the New York Times. On December 10th, 1915, seven months after the Lusitania was sunk, the New York Times announced that the White Star Liner Adriatic had left New York carrying 18,000 tons of war munitions for the Allies. Among the cargo items listed were 5,973 “empty” shells (NON EXPLOSIVE of course). The ship’s total cargo was valued at $10,000,000. Less than a year later, in August of 1916, the New York Times again reported the sailing of another White Star Liner, one of Adriatic’s sisters, the Baltic, carrying 18,500 tons of war munitions for the Allies. Such reports were usually printed about three days after the ship had left, once their supplemental manifests had been filed with Malone’s office. That gives an idea of the scale of the munitions shipping operation: TWENTY MILLION DOLLARS worth of munitions exports, on just those two ships alone, on ONE voyage. It is also worth noting that the Adriatic and the Baltic were both about one third smaller than the Lusitania. Another interesting sub-point is that Charles M Schwab, President of the Bethlehem Steel Corporation, who manufactured most of the munitions that were being shipped to Britain on these liners, was himself a regular passenger on both the Lusitania and the Mauretania.In the wake of the Lusitania disaster, “Champagne Charlie” as he was known, was asked by the New York Times if it was normal for his munitions products to leave the factory in crates marked NON EXPLOSIVE. He stated that he had no idea, as he wasn’t often there.In fact, he said; in the week that the Lusitania had been sunk, he’d been away, so he felt he couldn’t possibly comment on the matter further anyway. By the end of 1915, the year in which the Lusitania was sunk, exports of American-made munitions to Great Britain had totalled $199, 627, 324. The monthly average for munitions exports during the period 1st Jan 1915 to 1st Jan 1916 was $74, 003, 583. Both of these figures were proudly announced in the business pages of the New York Times of September 7th 1916. By the time of the US entry into World War 1 in 1917, it had well and truly passed the $1bn mark. All of it of course, had been sent by ship, and not just from the port of New York. There were shipments from Boston and Philadelphia too. We’ll leave you to work out what commission J P Morgan had earned for himself as sole purchasing agent, at 1% of all orders !
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