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 Rear Admiral Henry B. Wilson, Commander, Patrol Forces Based in France

<The criticisms referred to were by Wilson himself – violent denunciation of me and of headquarters made on several occasions in the presence of a number of officers>1

January 14th. 1918.

My dear Wilson,           

          It has come to my knowledge that for some time past there has occurred in your forces certain criticisms of my official actions and also expressions of disloyalty, both before officers of the force and before other naval officers outside the force, and that this has at times taken the very serious form of impugnment of motives.

          The information concerning these criticisms has been brought to my attention unofficially, but in such manner, and upon so many occasions, as to leave no doubt that these grave offenses have been committed.

          Therefore I am writing to you personally to request that you take the necessary measures to suppress them and inspire a spirit of loyalty in such a way that there may be no recurrence of them.

          As you doubtless know, one of the serious obstacles to successful cooperation in this war has been due to the difficulties cause by criticisms, and the suspicions and ill feelings that have resulted.

          This accentuates the absolute necessity of the most frank and loyal relations within our own forces (as well as with those of our Allies), to the end that the loyalty essential to military efficiency may be maintained.

          No one is more ready than I am to accept proper criticism which can be utilized for the general improvement, and it has always been my policy to welcome it from all ranks. In fact, I believe that the maximum efficiency cannot be attained without the assistance of the brains and experience of the entire command expressed in really constructive criticisms submitted through the usual channels so that we may all derive benefit therefrom.

          I am glad to say that our recent conference in London left me with the impression that your gang and mine are in complete accord as to the details of your organization and as to its relations to that of the whole command.

          Wishing you every success, and with my best regards to McCulby, Magruder, Evans, Halligan2 and the rest of the push,

Believe me,                            

Always very sincerely yours       

/s/ SIMS      

Source Note: TD, DLC-MSS, William S. Sims Papers, Box 23. Addressed below close: “Rear Admiral H.B.Wilson, U.S.N./Commanding U.S.Naval Forces in France,/B r e s t ./France.”

Footnote 1: This note was made by Sims for Chief of Naval Operations William S. Benson, who received a copy of this letter as an attachment to a 14 January 1918 letter. See: Sims to Benson, 14 January 1918.

Footnote 2: Capt. Newton A. McCully, Capt. Thomas P. Magruder, Cmdr. Franck T. Evans, Cmdr. John Halligan Jr.

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