Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Vice Admiral William S. Sims, Commander, United States Naval Forces Operating in European Waters, to Commander John V. Babcock

Admiral Sims’ personal file.

January 14 1918   

My dear Babby,

     Your letter written Friday at 6 p. m.1 has just reached me today and I am very glad indeed to have the information you gave me. This information is particularly valuable as coming from a man who is acquainted with the right hand man of the First Lord and a friend of the 1st Sea Lord.2

     I have a memorandum of recommendations from Leigh.3 I have told the 1st S.L. about this memorandum and it is agreed that I will present it to him so that he can take any action he wants to put steam behind the recommendations but without letting it be known that the recommendations were made by me or by Leigh.

     I will also inform him of a certain part of the contents of your letter so that he can look into the matter. I entirely agree that this businessof hunting squadrons is of prime importance, and I believe we can get the matter pushed forward.

     The 1st S.L. thanked me for making the suggestion that he should use our recommendations as his own without letting it be known where they came from.

     The more I see of this man the better I like him and his methods. The other day I dined with Admiral and Lady Grant.4 Grant is the Admiral who is leaving in a few days to take command of the Naval forces on our coast. He said he was calling on Wemyss the other day and the latter said “I am pretty busy just now, but when I get this organization straightened out I don’t expect to have much to do”.

     In conversation last night with a man who has had extensive dealings with the Navy I was told that Admiral Wemyss is a regulars slaughterer of red tape. That he goes out for direct results in the most direct manner. The following incident will give you an idea as to how he proposes to make a decision on an important matter.

     A tentative suggestion was made that destroyers be stationed at a certain port to escort convoys out a couple of hundred miles in order to protect them from the big cruising submarines that are expected at in spring. Wemyss said: “I don’t want that subject brought to my attention until after a complete study has been made by the combined British and American Planning section. I would like to have this study include all the information there is available about the manner in which these large submarines have operated to date, with special reference to their placing themselves within the area in which our destroyers and submarines should operate. This with a view of determining the probability of these vessels ever daring to operate within striking distance of smaller and handier submarines and of destroyers”.

     He said he would also like to have the study include the opinions of submarines officers and destroyer captains. Also the opinions of the commanders of the big steam submarines with a view of their being used to escort through certain areas. Also the advisability of using some of their rapid cruisers, and so forth, and so forth.

     The planning section is now pushing on this, and many other problems. This seems to me the right dope. I believe he is going to do a very excellent stunt as 1st. S.L.

     I enclose herewith two letters which will interest you. They are confidential in so far as concerns everybody except Pratt.5 I am in hopes that there will be no trouble over the matter indicated by these letters, but I think Pratt should know about the possibility of such trouble so that he may know the meaning of any action it may be necessary to take.

     Needless to say I am missing you very much, though I get along quite well alone having had much practice in that sort of thing. This morning the hotel people asked permission to move me into another compartment on the same floor. I told them to go ahead and I will find myself in new quarters when I return this evening.

     Needless to say, we will await our first letters from you with great interest.

Always sincerely yours,

Source Note: LT, DLC-MSS, William S. Sims Papers, Box 23. Addressed below closed: “Commander John V. Babcock, U.S.N.,/c/o Navy Department,/Washington, D.C.”

Footnote 1: Babcock’s letter has not been found.

Footnote 2: Adm. Rosslyn B. Wemyss.

Footnote 4: Adm. Sir William L. Grant and wife, Mabel.

Footnote 5: Sims is probably referring to rumors that RAdm. Henry B. Wilson, Commander, Patrol Squadrons Based in France, was speaking of him derogatorily in front of other officers. See: Sims to Benson 14 January 1918.

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