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 Admiral Sir Lewis Bayly, R.N., Commander, Naval Forces, Southern Ireland

January 31st, 1918.

My dear Admiral,

     Your letter of the 29th. inst. just received.1 There is no possible hurry about returning the Irish histories, as I have read them.

     It is, as you say, remarkable that the “principal dignitaries” of the Allies could not get their Army and Navy people together before this.2 I am assured however, that it is almost impossible to bring about co-ordination of this kind between Allies until they become more or less seriously alarmed as to the final outcome of the war.

     However, they seem now to be on the right road, although I suppose we may expect a little bit of floundering before they settle down to a practical way of doing business. We are each to have a liasion [i.e., liaison] officer with the permanent War Council at Versailles for the purpose of communicating to them any information they may want to have from the Naval Authorities and also as a means of communication in reference to a proposed united action.3

     The Allied naval council has invited the Allied War Council to consider the matter of an early meeting between the two bodies to discuss the general situation preparatory to determining upon them plans in which could be concerned.

     I am off on Monday for Italy.4 I will not neglect to take plenty of wraps and other warm clothing. However, I think we will probably be well taken care of, as I understand it is the intention to provide the allied representatives on this committee with a special car that will take us all the way from Paris to Rome and back again. I assume there will be a certain amount of heat provided.

     The question of handling of the increased number of troop convoys that are expected to come into Liverpool in the immediate future, is now a subject of discussion at the Admiralty, both in reference to routes and in reference to the question of convoy commanders. I hope that they will be able to reach a practical solution5

     As far as lies in my power I will see that those who are specially concerned with <our> troop transports be strongly advised to follow the advice of the escort commander.

     In reference to the behavior of the LEVIATHAN on her last trip, I have written to Washington pointing out the great danger of a vessel being handled as she was and have transmitted with this report, the report made by the escorting destroyers and the reply made by the captain of the LEVIATHAN.6 I have also written privately to Admiral Benson and expressed my apprehension as to the competence of the officer concerned and have strongly recommended that he be replaced.7

     It is a pity that we should have been obliged to send the AYLWIN to make the experiments in the Channel, but this was done because it was requested that they might be able to avail themselves of the experience that the personnel of the AYLWIN had had on the other side in working out anti-submarine problems.8 You know she is the vessel that was designated to carry out all the experiments against submarines while testing the various appliances that were sent over.9 I think we will be able to get her back to you before long.

     I am sorry to say that our destroyer program is not going to be up to expectations. I know that this is usually the case with promises that concern construcation [i.e., construction] of vessels, but I had hoped that under the present need special circumstances this might have been avoided. I believe that we will not be able to count upon having more than fifteen of the new destroyers by the middle of May. I am, however, doing everything I can to hurry matters upon the other side.

     I have the best possible reports from the only Pringle10 as to the way the general business in the Flotilla is going forward, and his relations with the members of my staff that have to do with personnel are everything that could be desired.

     Please give my best love to the ONLY NIECE,11 and believe me,

Always very sincerely

Source Note: Cy, DLC-MSS, William S. Sims Papers, Box 23. Addressed below close: “Admiral Sir Lewis Bayly,/Admiralty House,/Queenstown.” Note at top of page: “Admiral Sims/Personal File.” Identifying number in columnar fashion: “1/3/J.”

Footnote 2: Sims is referring to the recently created Supreme War Council and Allied Naval Council.

Footnote 3: Capt. Richard H. Jackson was to be the American liaison officer with the Supreme War Council. See: Sims to Josephus Daniels, 27 January 1918.

Footnote 4: On Sims’ trip to Italy, see: Sims to Bayly, 24 January 1918.

Footnote 5: The expectation of more American troops being sent to England was based on a faulty assumption by Sims, see: Sims to Bayly, 24 January 1918.

Footnote 6: This letter of Sims’ has not been found.

Footnote 8: On the experiments involving U.S.S. destroyer AYLWIN, see War diary of U.S.S. AYLWIN, 4 and 5 February 1918.

Footnote 9: The “various appliances” were underwater listening devices.

Footnote 10: Capt. Joel R. Poinsett Pringle.

Footnote 11: Bayly’s niece, Violet Voysey.

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