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 Captain Joel R. Poinsett Pringle, Chief of Staff, Destroyer Flotillas

January 24th. 1918.

My dear Pringle,

     Your letter of the 20th. received yesterday,1 and I am very glad indeed to have the intimate glimpse it gives me of the interior working of the Queenstown diplomacy. Of course you are right, and one of the important things is to keep up cordial relations with all concerned.

     I am very glad to know that a good beginning has been made in establishing these relations between the new 1st. S.L. and Queenstown.2 I hope the further extension of this that you indicate will be carried out. If Commodore Leek <Leake> was correct in stating that Admiral Wemyss would like to be invited to Queenstown, I have no doubt that if he is invited he would pay you a visit if it is physically possible to do so. It will be interesting to see what comes of it.

     As for Uncle Lewis4 and his relation to the <men’s> Club,5 I consider that now upon a perfectly solid foundation. I am very glad indeed of this because it will bring him in closer touch with our people, and his mere appearance at the Club is bound to have a good influence on the men. It is one thing to be serving under an Admiral that you never see and it is another thing to be serving under an Admiral whom you have seen smoking his pipe time and again.

     I have not heard anything before as to Eberle’s ambition to come out here and get into the game.6 I don’t see any prospects of it in the immediate future. As the forces that come out here later will not be based upon Queenstown, that force will not be very materially increased during the next summer. If the war goes on throughout 1919 it may be a different condition, but that is a bridge that we do not need to cross until we come to it. In all events, you may be sure that there will be no change of any account at Queenstown if it is possible for me to prevent it.

     I am glad to know what you tell me about Taussig’s declining to stay on the other side and about the progress of our boats at Fall<ore> River.7 It is to be expected that there will be some delays, but I hope they will not be material. I am touching them up all the time on the other side about the necessity of pushing these boats out.

     I note in your letter to Daniels that you say you would like to see the whole bunch of 6000 tonners8 sent to France as soon as possible so that they could handle the troop transports from there. You know it is our intention to do this as soon as the situation there will warrant it. The trouble on that coast is the question of oil supply. There is only one tank at Brest, and it is small. Perhaps we can make arrangements to have this so continuously supplied that it will handle all the destroyers operating from there. In the meantime we are going to put up three tanks of 7000 tons each. I have just authorized the expenditure of £50,000 to build the foundations alone. They have to go down 25 or 30 feet to reach bed rock but I should not wonder if some French Contractor will get away with considerable swag by the time he does reach bed rock.

     There is another feature of this,and that is that the flow of troops into the west coast of France is liable to be less in the immediate future than it has been, if a policy that is now being discussed of putting a great number of troops through England to be taken thence immediately to the Western Front, is carried out. There will not be any decision on this point for some weeks, however.

     Many thanks for the sugar which arrived in good order. I will take up the subject of the financial arrangement with Daniels9 and will see that they are straightened out.

     From a remark in your letter I judge that you assume that the verses I enclosed were a result of some of my idle moments. Let me therefore disclaim the honor of authorship of these verses. I do sometimes indulge in that sort of thing but I am not to blame for this.

Very sincerely yours,        

Source Note: TCy, DLC-MSS, William S. Sims Papers, Box 79. Addressed below close: “Captain J.R.Poinsett Pringle, U.S.Navy./U.S.S. MELVILLE,/Queenstown. Ireland.”

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

Footnote 2: That is, relations between the new British First Sea Lord Adm. Sir Rosslyn E. Wemyss, R.N. and the commander at Queenstown Adm. Sir Lewis Bayly, R.N.

Footnote 3: Commo. Francis M. Leake, R.N. Leake was Bayly’s chief of staff.

Footnote 4: That is, Adm. Lewis Bayly, R.N.

Footnote 5: The Club had been built for the use of American sailors at Queenstown.

Footnote 6: Capt. Edward W. Eberle was then Superintendent of the U.S. Naval Academy.

Footnote 7: See: Capt. Joseph K. Taussig to Pringle, 11 January 1917. As seen there, Fore River Shipyard was in Quincy, MA.

Footnote 8: Pringle’s letter to Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels has not been found. The “6000 tonners” were the Wickes-class destroyers then being built. Few of the destroyers of this class were completed before the war ended. On these destroyers, see Norman Friedman, U.S. Destroyers: An Illustrated Design History (Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 2004), 39-63.

Footnote 9: Sims’ aide Cmdr. Joseph F. Daniels.

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