Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Admiral Lewis Bayly, R.N., Commander, Naval Forces, Southern Ireland, to Vice Admiral William S. Sims, Commander, United States Naval Forces Operating in European Waters

Admiralty House,   

Queenstown.

16 . 1 . 18

My dear Admiral

     It takes all sorts to make a world, or even to make an Admiralty. Often details should be avoided, sometimes they should be studied. It depends not only on the head, but on the men he surrounds himself with. Nelson had a ring; Lord Wolseley had a ring; Fisher had a ring.1 Each one chose his men and then secure in his choice trusted them with the details. It has often been said that many of Napoleon’s battles were won by Berthier;2 certainly his downfall was largely due to some of his generals, I think that Jellicoe showed too much friendship & too little judgement in the appointments that followed his arrival at the Admiralty & that caused him to do most of the work himself. Hence his fall. But the silence that followed his departure was discreditable to those in high places, to the papers, & to the nation, for he has done more for the Navy since he was a captain than most people know.

The curious thing to me is that officers who have real practical experience of the present warfare seem never to be consulted, but schemes &c are worked out with maps &c, and some of those who do them have never seen a S/M [i.e. submarine] sunk.

Information from reports is very useful but they don’t show the weather and the thousand & one things that you and I know so well but which don’t appear in a report.

However, I wish Wemyss luck.3

So very glad you feel all right; keep so or come here for a cure.

I here you are taking the 1000 tonners away when relieved; it shows you are getting the French bases in order.4

yours very sincerely

Lewis Bayly

Source Note: ALS, DLC-MSS, William S. Sims Papers, Box 47. Document is on “Admiralty House,/Queenstown,” stationary. This letter is part of ongoing conversation between Sims and Bayly on the reorganization of the Admiralty following Adm. Sir John R. Jellicoe’s dismissal as First Sea Lord and Commander-in-Chief of the Grand Fleet. See: Sims to Bayly, 14 January 1918; and Sims to Bayly, 18 January 1918.

Footnote 1: Adm. Lord Horatio Nelson, R.N. (1758-1805), one of Britain’s most celebrated naval heroes and the admiral who won a series of spectacular victories over French fleets in the Napoleonic Wars; Field Marshal Garnet Wolseley (1833-1913), a highly respected officer who served in the Crimean War and later became Commander-in-Chief of the British Army; and Adm. John Arbuthnot Fisher (1841-1920), who had a long and distinguished naval career and became First Sea Lord at age 74 early in World War I, but later resigned amid tensions with Winston Churchill, then First Lord of the Admiralty.

Footnote 2: French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte (1769-1821), and Adm. Louis-Alexander Berthier (1753-1815).

Footnote 3: Adm. Rosslyn E. Wemyss, R.N.

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