Lieutenant Commander Charles R. Train, United States Naval Attaché in Rome to Vice Admiral William S. Sims, Commander, United States Naval Forces Operating in European Waters
Naval Attache AMERICAN EMBASSY
ALUSNA ROME. ROME
15 February 1918
Vice-Admiral W.S.Sims, U.S.Navy
I have just had a chat with Vice Admiral Revel1 regarding your Adriatic scheme.2 He and other men about him have read
y the plan, but are more or less reserved in their statements as to its being the proper “Decision.” He would like a more definite statement as to what the United States’ contribution would be in both ships and troops. The point was raised that before the plan could properly be considered it would have to go before the Army crowd, and for this reason a more definite statement of troops would be required.
The point also was raised that the Dardanelles Expedition had proved such a failure that the plan would require a great deal of intense study and care in its preparation; also that a great deal depended upon the actual situation at the present front, as a sudden recall of troops from the Islands after landing, in order to re-inforce the front, might prove disastrous.
It seems that a plan much like yours had been developed and thoroughly prepared, but it is my own opinion there is some ulterior motive that will prevent them from accepting yours. Cusani3 said that in the proper consideration of the plan it would have to be passed upon by the Cabinet -- that is the Prime Minister and the Minister of Foreign Affairs, etc.,4 to which I replied that upon a decision by the General Staff of the Navy that the plan was a good one, then it should be put up to the Cabinet for the final decision; that you submitted the plan as a study, and that I hope that it would continue to receive mature consideration.
Personally, I believe that they are afraid of it, in that in case of failure, the very strong anti-war spirit might sweep aside the government, with possible revolutionary results. I do not know what they would say if it was suggested that the entire operation should be carried out by us -- our ships, troops, and our Commander-in-Chief – but I do not believe that it will ever be done otherwise.
I did not argue with the Chief of Staff on the points raised for various reasons. Chiefly because arguing with an Italian In Italian is too much for me – but I have discussed with the men he has about him, and I believe that the general opinion of the younger element is favorable to the plan.
I am sending by the courier another Book, 2 V of s, on the Austrian coast, which has all the data Yarnell requested.5 This was not complete when you were here -- in fact, the copy I am forwarding is the second compilation.
C. R. Train
(Following in ink)
P.S. Feb. 16th?
A further talk on the subject with an officer who was present during the interview with Revel -- said that that the Admiral wanted to make it clear that the plan was most dependent on the front as his vessels were always standing by to protect the right wing in case of a possible retreat. But it was most necessary before putting it up to the Army to know just what contributions would be made by the U.S. in order to know what vessels would always be ready for such an emergency. I told him that your plan should be considered an independent operation and that it should not be hampered by side issues which would have to be taken care of by a special force.
Source Note: LTS, DLC-MSS, William Sims Papers, Box 23. At the top of the page is typed, “Admiral Sim’s Personal File” and the identifying numbers “1/5/6/J/Q” in columnar fashion.
Footnote 1: Adm. Paolo Thaon di Revel, Chief of the Italian Naval Staff.
Footnote 2: See: Sims to Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, 2 February 1918. The plan Sims outlined was never implemented due to Italian resistance and the Allies shifting their attention in March to the massive German attack along the Western Front; Halpern, Naval War in the Mediterranean: 441.
Footnote 3: Luigi Griolamo Cusani-Confalonieri, formerly the Ambassador of Italy to the United States, now the Ambassador of Italy to Japan.
Footnote 4: Vittorio Orlando and Sidney Sonnino.
Footnote 5: Cmdr. Henry E. Yarnell, a member of Sims’ Planning Section.