The Battle of the Caribbean: February 1942 to August 1943
To the United States, ABC-1 was a "definite commitment" to a Germany-first war strategy in collaboration with Britain. During the next eight months, the United States took several steps to implement this strategy. These steps included the relief of the British garrison in Iceland by United States forces in July 1941; the Atlantic conference between Roosevelt and Churchill in Placentia Bay off Argentia, Newfoundland between August 10 and 15, 1941; the United States' decision during September 1941 to assume full responsibility from Britain for the mid-Atlantic portion of British-Canadian-American convoys; the United States' baseconstruction program in the British Isles, Newfoundland, and the British Caribbean; the ABC agreement on command principles for the United States' leased bases in the British transatlantic possessions; and the establishment of an embryonic Allied Supreme Command structure. Astride the strategic Straits of Dakar, important steps included the Brazil-United States Joint Planning Agreement of July 24, 1941, and the entry of United States troops into Surinam in November 1941 in agreement with the Netherlands and Brazil.
Meanwhile, a number of naval incidents between September and November 1941 created an inexorable drive to total war between the United States and Germany. German submarines attacked the USS Greer,Kearney, and Reuben James on September 4, October 17, and October 3l, 1941, while they were engaged in support of British-Canadian convoys in the North Atlantic. In addition, about nine other incidents between the United States and German navies occurred between September 5 and November 6, 1941. The blow, however, which completed the transition from de facto to de jure war between the United States and Germany was dealt by Japan at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. By December 11, 1941, the United States found itself at war with the Axis in the Pacific and the Atlantic sea frontiers.1
Almost immediately, Roosevelt and Churchill met at the Washington conference between December 22, 1941, and January 14, 1942. They not only reconfirmed the Germany-first strategy of