Captain Hutchinson I. Cone, Commander, United States Naval Aviation Forces, Foreign Service, to Vice Admiral William S. Sims, Commander, United States Naval Forces Operating in European Waters
U S NAVAL FORCES OPERATING IN EUROPEAN WATERS
U. S. Naval Aviation Forces, Foreign Service.
4 Place d’Iena
CONFIDENTIAL: January 22, 1918
My dear Admiral Sims:
There is a condition here in Army aviation that has come to my notice through our Liaison Officers, but I do not feel that I have sufficient correct data to put it in an official letter; in fact, I doubt the wisdom of reporting it officially. However, I believe that you and certain members of your organization should know the affairs as they stand.
When I came over here, Col. Bolling1 (who in civil life is a prominent attorney for the Steel Corporation) was in charge of all Aviation matters here in Paris. He was busily engaged in organizing a large technical force, supply division, etc., for the proper production, purchase and supply of the necessary aviation material for the Army. In addition to these duties, he was a member of the United States Aircraft Production Board at Home.
Under instructions from the people in Washington, and also in accordance with my best judgement, I made it my business to work closely with Col. Bolling, with the result that we were working along splendidly, and while I was not in position to help him, he, with his large and splendid technical organization, helped me a great deal.
Things seemed to be going along alright, when General Foulois2 (Brigadier General of the Signal Corps of the Army) arrived on the scene with orders to take over entire Army Aviation service. He is a young man- I think less than forty and apparently without much, if any, eexperience in handling large affairs.
Upon his assumption of authority everything seemed to go on alright, as far as I could see, and I had one or two pleasant interviews with him. But it seems that very soon friction began to develop in the Army organization; between whom I do not know, because I saw trouble coming and we decided to keep entirely out of it and not try to know too much about any bickering that was going on. Finally, the friction has become more and more, until now I think that I can truthfully say that there is no real Army Aviation organization in France. All authority has been taken away from Col. Bolling, the head of the Educational Department has been changed once, or twice, and they certainly are not getting trained Aviators of any experience ready to go on the line. There are dozens, I might say hundreds, of U.S.Reserve Officers from all walks of life, high and low, who are voicing their discontent at conditions, and who are making no secret of their discontent, in fact are talking freely all around Paris. This undoubtedly will affect the organization of the European Committee of the Air Craft Production Board, and my policy will be to stay out of this as well, until they are organized and ready to go ahead with business.
In this connection, there is a good deal of talk about organizing an air service to handle production, equipment, etc. for both the Army and Navy, and take it out of the Army and Navy the same as they have done in England. This I believe to be the correct organization, but I would strongly advise that at this time, we keep out of any such scheme for it would result in our becoming a very small part of a large concern greatly confused and unable to produce anywhere near desirable results.3
Miss Hitchcock is well, and we are all cheered up over here.
With best wishes, I am,
sgd --- H. I. Cone
Source Note: Cy, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517B. Addressed below close: “Vice Admiral W. S. Sims, U.S.Navy,/30 Grosvenor Gardens,/London S. W. 1./England./Copies for:/Captain N.E.Irwin,/Admiral Wilson.” Document reference: “1/3/G/J/S.” Document is from: “Admiral Sims/Personal File.”
Footnote 1: Col. Raynal C. Bolling, U.S.A.
Footnote 2: Gen. Benjamin Foulois, U.S.A.
Footnote 3: See: Cone to Noble E. Irwin, 22 January 1918.