John and Joe Kennedy Travel to England to Work for Their Father During His Tenure as Ambassador
In late June 1938, Kennedy sailed with his father and his brother Joe on the SS Normandie to spend July working with his father, recently appointed U.S. Ambassador to the Court of St. James's by President Roosevelt, at the American embassy in London, and August with his family at a villa near Cannes. From February through September 1939, Kennedy toured Europe, the Soviet Union, the Balkans, and the Middle East to gather background information for his Harvard senior honors thesis. He spent the last ten days of August in Czechoslovakia and Germany before returning to London on September 1, 1939, the day Germany invaded Poland. On September 3, 1939, Kennedy and his family were in attendance at the Strangers Gallery of the House of Commons to hear speeches in support of the United Kingdom's declaration of war on Germany. Kennedy was sent as his father's representative to help with arrangements for American survivors of the SS Athenia, before flying back to the U.S. on Pan Am's Dixie Clipper from Foynes, Ireland to Port Washington, New York on his first transatlantic flight at the end of September.
In his early days as ambassador, Joe Kennedy and his charming young family had taken England by storm, becoming enormously popular. However, after the outbreak of War, Ambassador Kennedy sent his family home to escape the bombing in London and publicly expressed doubts about England's ability to stand up to Hitler's onslaught, losing popularity, and eventually losing his position as ambassador as well