Admiral William S. Benson, Chief of Naval Operations, to Vice Admiral William S. Sims, Commander, United States Naval Forces Operating in European Waters
Cablegram Received April <6,1918.> 08106 WHH
Origin Opnav Washington Ser. No.4676
C S 8 April
25-D V E R Y S E C R E T
4676. Your 5496. When cable 3596 was sent it was understood British were concentrating on work of bomb(ing) base(s) at Ostend, Zeebrugge and Bruges. It appears important work of assisting in closing to submarines, Dover Strait and shoal waters off Belgium bases by water machines carrying depth charges is not being performed vigorously enough. It is planned to supply sufficient large water machines in connection with other preparations for this work. Considered impracticable for them patrol Belgium unless absolutely necessary (to) retire without any adequate protection from German land squadrons which will surely attack patrols when they become troublesome. If Dunquerke unsatisfactory for water base same could be shifted to England. Personnel of Marine Corps section Naval Aviation sufficient for 72 machines now receiving finishing training in Gunnery and Acrobatic land flying. Probably ready June 1st. This will be increased if necessary. Planning to send over those now training as soon as ready. Expect to secure (80) Liberty motored Bristol machines here by that time. These will be fitted with detachable landing gear and otherwise equipped to land on the surface of the water if necessary. Build(ings) hangars and equipment for this force ordered for delivery May 15th. General Board adheres to recommendations regarding use these machines for protecting water patrols. Machines of squadrons sent over will be suitable both day bombing and protecting water patrols. Details as to best use can be worked out according to conditions existing when they arrive. Large night bombers will be ordered here but deliveries will probably not commence until late Fall. If you secure them abroad personnel can be furnished in reasonable length of time. Requested that you use every effort to secure abroad for this force by July 1st at least 32 latest ---*-- land chasse machines. Also desirable to endeavor to secure (40) or more of these day bombers by August. Requestion aerodome be selected in section having no prominent landmarks to assist orienting enemy bombers. 4676. 11006
* N.B. Have serviced for missing word.
Source Note: Cy, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517B. For more on this decision, see: Josephus Daniels to Newton D. Baker, 4 April 1918.