Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

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

EXTRACT OF LETTER FROM Captain Cone, dated January 29th. 1918.

          “I am going to quote for you below extract from a letter which I have just received from Sandoz, who is Secretary of the General Board and a classmate of mine.1

          “At the regular monthly meeting of the General Board day before yesterday, Admiral Benson gave a most interesting resume of his trip on the other side.2 To me it was very very gratifying to note his absolute confidence in what you all over there are doing, and the thorough optimism which he acquired on his trip. You will remember, before you left, we thought he might have felt a little sensitive about Sims. If so his trip certainly entirely removed any such feeling, and there was no mistaking his cordiality of feeling now toward Sims. To me that alone was more than worth twenty such trips abroad.

          He didn’t mention you by name, but spoke of the great work that is being done in establishing aviation stations, and the work in connection therewith. He spoke enthusiastically about our Marines and also about the Army, and his praise was just as sincere for the British Navy and Army and for the French Army. He admired greatly the discipline of the British Navy and expressed himself to the effect that for spick and spanness and the way the ships and material, as well as the personnel are kept up, he felt we might take some good pointers from the British service. Of course, he considered that our enormous and sudden expansion of personnel in the Navy accounted to a great extent for our lacking a little in the matter of scrupulous cleanliness of ships and uniforms, and felt that in due time we should get back to the maxim of “cleanliness being next to godliness”, and also in the long run, of being productive of contentment, discipline and well being of the personnel, as well as conducive of high efficiency of ships individually, and of the fleet as a whole.

          Day before yesterday, right after the session of the General Board, going to luncheon at the Club, I happened to pass by Captain Pratt’s table and he invited me to sit down with him.3 I was glad to tell him of the gist of what I have just written you in reference to Admiral Benson’s unmistakable cordiality to Sims, as I knew if Pratt ever doubted it he would be happy to have such doubts removed.”

Source Note: TL, DLC-MSS, William Sims Papers, Box 49.

Footnote 1: Lt. Cmdr. Fritz L. Sandoz.

Footnote 2: William S. Benson, Chief of Naval Operations. Benson had spent most of the month of November and part of December 1917 traveling to England and France as a member of the diplomatic mission led by Col. Edward M. House.

Footnote 3: William V. Pratt, Assistant Chief of Naval Operations..

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