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Vice Admiral William S. Sims, Commander, United States Naval Forces Operating in European Waters, to Office of the Chief of Naval Operations

CABLEGRAM SENT   August 14, 1917

To  Opnav, Washington                  Serial No. 256

Via   Q 22                             File No. 16/7/8

The following receipt from Naval Attache Paris1 quote ‘following radio messages have been intercepted in Paris going from Germany to Spain’ “The German General Staff has been informed August fo[u]rth that in part [i.e., port] of Nantes there was a considerable movement of steamers and principally American steamers. Within a short time at St. Nazaire several transports have arrived with ten thousand soldiers from America. The American convoys seem now to take the direction of Ouessant at extreme Brittany end” ‘Another from same source”: “The German General Staff is informed of departures on July tenth from New York N Y of six American transports and eight British transports with American troops not instructed”.2 ‘Another from same source’. “St. Nazaire, Havre, France, Bordeaux, France are ports which German General Staff believe will be utilized as port of debarkation for American troops arriving in France”. These messages were sent to Spain to be transmitted to submarines3 unquote 17514


Source Note: Cy, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517B. Notation in top left-hand corner: “Subject Copy.” Identifier in top right-hand corner: ”S[298] and in columnar fashion: “8/1/3/O/H/J.”

Footnote 1: Capt. William R. Sayles.

Footnote 2: While the total is correct, there were actually eight U.S. and six British transports  in this convoy; Naval Investigation, 2: 2144.

Footnote 3: The United States realized that the Germans, who in their propaganda promised to sink troop transports, certanily had the ability to do so. According to Capt. Yates Stirling, Jr., Commander, President Lincoln, “The transport personnel knew they had been selected as martyrs. They might run the gauntlet once, twice, of even three trips, but sooner or later they were sure that there would be a day of reckoning, for it was inconceivable to them that the German High Command would not eventually concentrate every available submarine on the American troop convoys.” Yates Stirling, Jr., “The Bridge Across the Atlantic,” United States Naval Institute Proceedings, vol. 51, no. 9 (September, 1925), 1675.

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