Vice Admiral William S. Sims, Commander, United States Naval Forces Operating in European Waters, to Anne Hitchcock Sims
Dec. 29, 1917
My darling Nani
I have had a very unusual xmas. In some respects an unfortunate one, but in other respects a very fortunate one. I arrived here on xmas eve and at once went to bed with an attack of lumbago. That was Monday evening, and it is now Saturday, and I am about all right again. . . .
It was bad luck missing all the xmas doing here. Our xmas eve there was a dinner on the Melville and a special show at the men’s club. However it was good luck being here, if I had to go to bed. I am in “my” room (“The Admiral’s room”) which faces south and overlooks the town and the harbor. It is a corner room and has the sun all day – when there is any – and for a wonder there has been sunshine every day since I arrived. . . . I will probably go back to London, the middle of next week. I am going to take Danny with me – on my staff in London. He is very much pleased indeed, and I will be glad to have him with me again.
A day or so ago we received the list of the officers selected for promotion, and Danny was among them. He is now a Commander – in the “brass hat” class. It is a pleasure to see how happy it makes him. We are all pleased that old man Price was made a captain. You will doubtless have seen the list in the papers and were interested to note that Stearns and Crank were promoted. (They had both been passed over). Also, Watson, Cone, Johnston, Yarnell, and Knox. I am much pleased over the latter. He and Schofield are about arriving in London to be in my office, and Yarnell arrived from Gibraltar just before I left. Many who were passed over once or even twice have been promoted. We do not know upon what theory this is based. Of course the majority of the board is anti-selection, and will remain so until the upper end of the last retires – in 2 or 3 years. . . We cannot imagine why Plunkett was passed over. I consider him one of our ablest men. Perhaps he has broken down in health.
However, selection has made the whole very more efficient.
The day I arrived here Admiral Jellicoe was replaced by V. Ad Wemyss. I am very sorry indeed. I assume the government considered it a political necessity – a response to public (and always ignorant) criticism because the guns are not always firing, the rats have not been dug out of their holes, etc.
I know Ad. Wemyss (pro[nounced]. Weems) very well and like him. I have written both Jellicoe and Wemyss letters and will send you copies when I get back. The change will make no difference in my position as far as the admiralty is concerned.
I will probably send this letter home by Bagley, who is leaving in a few days. He is a bit shaken since his experience in losing the Jacob Jones.
We are all amused over Hanrahan’s experience. He is in command of the Mystery ship the Admiralty gave us. She left here yesterday for a shakedown cruise to Berehaven, was torpedoed shortly after he got outside, and was towed back here 22 hours later. This is the shortest cruise of the kind on record. Some of these ships cruise as much as 8 Months without even seeing a submarine – None of the crew were even hurt and the ship can be repaired in a month or so. . . .