The London Naval Conference and its Aftermath, 1930–1931

  • David Carlton


The London Naval Conference was one of the most distinguished international gatherings of the twentieth century, being attended inter alios by the Prime Ministers of France and Great Britain, and by the Foreign Ministers of Great Britain, France, Italy and the United States. Moreover, the conference was conducted in the grand manner, continuing in all for three months.’ But, as is so often the case, the mere presence of distinguished delegations did little to promote far-reaching agreements, although considerations of prestige may have led some of the statesmen to accept paper formulae of somewhat doubtful value. At all events, the results of the conference were of a limited character and were clearly disappointing to contemporaries, even if to some modern historians they may now seem rather more impressive in the light of the knowledge that no other comparable agreement on arms limitation has since been negotiated.


Foreign Minister Total Tonnage American Delegation Japanese Delegation Naval Power 
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  1. 2.
    Hugh Dalton, The Fateful Years: Memoirs, 1937–1945(London, 1957) pp. 32–3. For a formal and detailed account of the British Ministers’ negotiations in Rome, see C.P., no. 64(31) by Henderson and Alexander, n.d., Cab. 24/220.Google Scholar
  2. 3.
    A partisan and undocumented defence of the French position appears in Espagnac de Ravay, Vingt ans de politique navale (1919–1939) (Grenoble, 1941) pp. 88–90. Memoranda which present the French and British views of the misunderstanding—if such it was—appear in B.D., 2/11, nos 345 and 346 (2o and 25 Apr 1931). One writer has placed the prime responsibility for the alleged reversal of French policy upon Pierre Laval.Google Scholar
  3. See Arthur H. Furnia, The Diplomacy of Appeasement: Anglo-French Relations and the Prelude to World War II, 1931–1938 (Washington, D.C., 1960 ) p. 27. In support of his contention, Furnia cited B.D.2/11 no. 236 [sic] pp. 385–7. The document in question, however, makes no reference to the personal role of Laval.Google Scholar

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© David Carlton 1970

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  • David Carlton

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