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 Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels

[Extract]

11 July 1918.

From:     Force Commander.

To:       Secretary of the Navy (Operations)

SUBJECT:  Weekly report.

     1.   ENEMY SUBMARINE OPERATIONS

Week 16 – 22 June, 1918.

          During week 16 – 22 June, it is estimated that 6 – 11 large enemy submarines were out, included in this number being the one converted “Deutschland” which was operating to the eastward of New York.

          Two large boats were working to the westward of the English Channel, and the remainder were on passage to their operating areas.

          The Yorkshire coast was the only area of great activity during the week. The Irish Sea was clear of submarines and indications pointed to the probability of the larger vessels proceeding to operate further west of the southern approaches of the British Island than has been their practice during recent months.

          The following table gives more detailed particularsof the enemy’s activities –

AREA

Average No. of s/ms [i.e. submarines] in area per day

North Sea, South of 53º 30’ N

1

   "   "   North of 53º 30’ N.

5 - 6

S. W. Of Ireland

1 - 2

Atlantic North of Finisterre

1

Atlantic, South of Finisterre

-

Atlantic, N. American Coast

1

N. W. of Ireland and Scotland

3 – 4

Irish Sea, North of 54º N }

   

Irish Sea, South of 54º N }

1

Irish Sea, Bristol Channel

1 – 2

English Channel, approaches

1

English Channel, W. of Lyme Regis

     1  (?)

English Channel, east of Lyme Regis

   1 – 2 (?)

Bay of Biscay

1

 

Week 23 – 29 June

          During the week 23-29 June it was estimated that twelve to thirteen large enemy submarines were out, included in this number being three converted “Deutschlands” – the one which had been operating off the United States coast thought to be homeward-bound (having been last heard of on 27th June in long. 44° W) and the other two outward-bound and probably in about long. 25°W. at the end of the week.

          Of the remaining large boats it is thought possible that one may be in the vicinity of the Canaries and the other t[w]o have been working between Ireland and the North coast of Spain, chiefly off the entrance to the English Channel. For a short period, while a considerable number of submarines were on passage, activity was experienced on the north coast of Ireland.

          There has been persistent activity off the northeast coast of England; the enmy seems to have been using his Flanders Flotilla for work in this area and done considerable damage.

          The following table gives more detailed particulars of the enemy’s activities.–

AREA

Average No. of s/ms in area per day

North Sea, S. of 53º30’ N

1

   "   "   N. of    "

4 - 5

S. W. Of Ireland

1

Atlantic N. of Finisterre

2

Atlantic, S. of Finisterre

     1  (?)

Atlantic, North America

1

N. W. of Ireland and Scotland

4

Irish Sea, N. of 54ºN

-   

Irish Sea, S. of 54º

1

Irish Sea, Bristol Channel

1

English Channel, approaches

2 - 3

English Channel, W. of Lyme Regis

 1 

English Channel, east of Lyme Regis

  1 – 2

Bay of Biscay

     1  (?)

 

Week 30 June – 6 July.

          During the week 30 June – 6 July, 1918, it is estimated that about fifteen large enemy submarines were out, included in this number being probably two converted “Deutschlands”, although the position far out in the Atlantic is obscure.

          Activity off the north-east coast of England was somewhat dimi[ni]shed, and it would seem that only two boats were working in this area during this period.

          The Chief zone of activity was the western approaches to the English Channel as far out as 10° W. longitude; from the Channel itself several reports were received, especially from the vicinity of the Owers and St. Albans Head

          The Irish Sea and North Channel were, apparently, free from submarines.

          The following table gives more detailed particulars of the enemy’s activities –

Area

Average No. of s/ms in area per day

North Sea, S. of 53º30’ N

-

   "   "   N.      "

4 - 5

S. W. Of Ireland

1

Atlantic N. of Finisterre

3

Atlantic, S. of Finisterre

1 

Atlantic (Western)

?

N. W. of Ireland and Scotland

3 - 4

Irish Sea, N. of 54ºN.

-   

Irish Sea, S. of 54º

-

Irish Sea Bristol Channel

1

English Channel, approaches

3 - 4

English Channel, W. of Lyme Regis

 1 - 2 

English Channel, east of Lyme Regis

2

Bay of Biscay

1

 

     2.  ENGAGEMENTS

Week 16 – 22 June.

          Reports of twenty-two encounters with enemy submarines were received.

               5 by T.B.D’s [i.e., Torpedo Boat Destroyers]

               2 by Sloops

               2 by Sloops and “Fish” trawler Division1

               2 by aircraft

               1 by submarine

               1 by special service ship2

               7 by Auxiliary Patrol

               2 by Merchant vessels.

Week 23 – 29 June.

          Reports of twenty-six encounters with enemy submarines were received -

               6 by T.B.D’s

               3 by Sloops and Fish Hydrophone trawlers

               7 by Auxiliary Patrol

               5 by aircraft

               1 by U. S. [Submarine] Chaser

               2 by Merchant Vessel

Week 30 June – 6 July.

          Reports of twenty-three encounters with enemy submarines were received as follow:

               3 by Destroyers

               1 by “P” [i.e., Patrol] class vessel

               1 by submarine

               1 by shore gun

               7 by auxiliary patrol

               7 by aircraft

               3 by Merchant Vessels.

3.  ENEMY MINE LAYING

Week 16 – 22 June.

          Activity was experienced off the east coast of Scotland and in the Portsmouth Area.

          The minelaying to seaward of the Scottish Eastern coast developed into an operation on a large scale. The field is apparently a tactical one, being in the vicinity of the Grand Fleet’s southward route.

          Thirty-four mines were destroyed.

Week 23 – 29 June.

          Activity was experienced in the Harwich area and off the east coast of Scotland, where a further extension – to the southward and eastward – of the field previously laid was located. The enemy appeared to be concentrating all his larger minelaying submarines here; one hundred and twenty mines were cleared from open waters and about 30 more from coastal areas since the beginning of the operation in December last.

          Forty-two mines in all were destroyed.

Week 29 June – 6 July.

          The only new group of mines located during this week were off Berwick-on-Tweed.

          Further mines were swept up in the area to the seaward of the east coast of Scotland. Systematic searches will be carried out with a view to divining the enemy’s intentions.

          Twenty-one mines in all were destroyed.

     4.   GENERAL INFORMATION

          H. M. S. LYCHNIS, 60 miles N. N. E. of Bizerta, attacked and sank U-64 by gunfire, ramming, and depth charges. Five prisoners were taken.

          H. M. S. MISTLETOE and 4th Division of Fish Hydrophone Trawlers hunted a submarine to 105 miles N.W. of Muckle Flugga and claim to have sunk it by gunfire and depth charges. As no subsequent movements of the enemy have been traced, it is hoped that this engagement was successful. It is noteworthy that four out of five submarines passing north of Muckle Flugga were attacked and hunted more or less closely by the Fish Units.

          U. C. 11 has been blown up, presumably on a British mine, three miles N. E. of Sunk Light. There was one survivor.

          Hospital Ship BRAEMAR CASTLE was stopped by a submarine off pantellaria (Mediterranean) and allowed to proceed3. . . .

     6.   AVIATION FORCES

          In order to ensure the maximum degree of coordination of effort, arrangements have been completed with the British Admiralty whereby U. S. Naval Aviation activities in Ireland will be under the general operational command of the Admiral Commander-in-Chief Coast of Ireland;4 those in the Dover-Dunkirk area under the operational command of the British Vice-Admiral Commanding the Dover Barrage,5 and those on the East Coast of England under the Vice-Admiral Commanding the East Coast Defences of England.6

          This arrangement applies only to matters of operation. Direct communications will be established which will keep the Force Commander in constant touch with the utilization of our forces.

          Particular attention is invited to Force Commander’s endorsement dated 25 June on a letter received from Brigadier General Lambe commanding the British Air Forces in the Dunkirk region.7 General Lambe was formerly a naval officer and assumed his present rank when the British Air Forces were consolidated.

          This is but one evidence of the excellent duty which has been performed by Captain H. I. Cone and of the admirable cooperation which has existed, and still exists in all areas between British Air Forces and our own.

          The Force Commander cannot too highly commend Captain Cone for the duty he has performed and is still performing.

          It is also desired to commend the excellent services of Lieut. Edwards8 who is Captain Cone’s representative on the Force Commander’s staff. The relations which Lieut. Edwards has established with all officials of British Air Forces have not only greatly expedited our Aviation activities, but, as far as England is concerned has been in a large measure responsible for such success as we have attained.

     7.   SUBMARINE DESTRUCTION

          There is attached an interesting compilation made by the Intelligence Section of this staff giving the methods by which submarines have been destroyed to date.9

          It is interesting to note the high percentage of the submarine as an anti-submarine vessel and also the fact that no submarines so far as is known have been destroyed by gunfire of merchant vessels.

          It is again recommended that an appeal be made to the press to avoid publishing reports regarding submarine operations as obtained from passengers returning from abroad. It is considered very detrimental to allow the public to be misinformed as they have been by many wholly untrue accounts appearing in the press and apparently obtained from rumors originating with passengers crossing the Atlantic.

     8.   ENEMY SPECIAL MINE LAYING IN THE NORTH SEA

          Mining operations by enemy submarines off the east coast of Scotland have been so persistent recently in areas well clear of the land, that the Admiralty are led to believe that the effort is not haphazard, but has a definite object.

          Enclosed is a print of the mines swept up to date.10 In connection with this print, the Admiralty Plans Division makes the following comments regarding these mine laying operations:

          “This minefield is apparently a large tactical operation, possibly affecting the future strategic movements of the Grand Fleet as well as its present effect on Scandinavian convoys.”

          “The possibility of three lines laid as shown in tracing may be found worthy of consideration in that the first three groups of mines found lie roughly thirty miles apart, and the last group appears to be tailed on-shorewards of the southermost previous group on a line running N. N. W. and S. S. E. (incidentally a safe line for further approach of enemy’s vessels to Coast)”.

          “Between the dates of the laying of the offshore groups (which are believed all to have been laid by boats carrying 36 mines” one or two groups have been laid on the coastal route by small minelaying submarines carrying eighteen mines.”

          “It will be noticed that the possible northern line of enemy mines runs towards the Moray Firth Field and this closes the Northern exit for convoys. It may be that the laying is eventually intended to run to the northern barrage and so close the Fleet’s southern passage from the Pentlands, coupled as is now the case with a continuation of the constant minelaying at the entrance to the Firth of Forth”.

     9.   VISIT OF NAVAL OFFICERS TO ARMY FRONT

          At the suggestion of the Propaganda Department of the Admiralty, Commander Buchanan,11 whose vessel was under overhaul, and Commander Wolcott, R.N.,12 made a tour of the French, British and American fronts for the purpose of disseminating information in the Army as to what the Navies are doing and the progress of the Naval Campaign.

          Commander Buchanan reports that they visited various French British and American headquarters in the field, many recreation centers of troops, and took every step possible to come into close contact with allied and American Army Officers. They were met everywhere with the greatest courtesy and found an unusual interest on the part of the armies in the field as regards the work of the Navy. They were besieged with questions wherever they went.

          Commander Buchanan gives the following general impressions –

(a)  There was very little friction existing between the enlisted personnel or among the officers in the Allied Armies. In fact, the co-operation and mutual respect was most marked, especially between the American and British. Such signs of friction as were observed, when closely examined, were found to result from the personality of the individuals.

(b)  Everywhere was to be found a quiet feeling of confidence in the ability of the armies to meet any German attack. It is true that all have taken the defensive attitude for this year, feeling that they have not sufficient forces to take the initiative until the arrival of more troops.

(c)  In the Air Force and in the American Second Division, especially in the Marine Brigade, this passive attitude does not exist. In these there is the keenest offensive spirit, and this spirit is reflected in the work that these Forces are now accomplishing.

     10.

          COMMUNICATIONS SERVICE

          The Force Commander cannot two highly commend the Communication Division of his staff. The difficulties which have confronted this division of the staff, particularly on account of the distances involved and the necessity of both using and co-ordinating with methods of communication of our Allies, have presented very serious problems. It is manifest, of course, that the efficiency of our operations are entirely dependent upon rapid and reliable and accurate communication. The success which has been attained in solving the problems presented has been remarkable.

          Lieutenant Commander Blakeslee,13 the force communication officer, is deserving of the greatest credit and praise for the admirable manner in which he has performed his duty, as there has been no precedents or peace training for the peculiar problems encountered. . . .

     11.  FORCE BASED ON QUEENSTOWN

          The following are comments on readiness for duty of vessels of this force –

MANLEY    Tentative date of completion 25 October.

TRIPPE     estimated date of completion 19 July. Delayed due to additional work found necessary in stern tubes and shafting.

ROWAN    completion – 6 July.

STEVENS    arrived 28 June in generally excellent condition except for considerable salt water trouble in bearings. About five days will be necessary for alteration of depth charge tracks, bridge and minor repairs before this vessel will be ready for service.

MCDOUGAL  Date of completion 8 July. Has had trouble with shafting.

SHAW      Has experienced serious condenser troubles and cannot be depended upon for speeds over 22 knots until condensers are re-tubed.

STERETT    DIXIE completed retubing one boiler and commenced on another.

CALDWELL   damaged bow due to ramming a whale?

CASSIN     returned to service on 28 June.

WILKES     under repairs Devonport following collision, probably duration two months.

     The schedule for refit now calls for two ships at a time for periods of fifteen days each.

     The GLACIER14 and CUYAMA15 have both arrived, discharged and sailed (the GLACIER for Plymouth).

     The British collier WAR CROSS sailed on 17 June with the following spares, stores, etc.

(a) Spare propellers and crank shafts for destroyers transferred to Brest.

     (b)  3 - 4" guns and accessories for Devonport.

     (c)  45 tons provisions for U.S. S. OLYMPIA

(d)  50 tons provisions, canteen stores and clothing for Base 27.

     On 20 June H. M. S. ZINNIA sailed for Base 716 with all shipments, stores and spares recently transferred to that Base.

     The construction of new store house is progressing satisfactorily, the framework now about 50% completed.

     A railway siding to this storehouse is nearly completed.

     Provisions on hand at Base including those received on GLACIER are as follows:

PROVISIONS    ON HAND   AVERAGE WEEKLY ISSUE   NO. WEEKS SUPPLY

Fresh frozen  1,146,055      50,194                  23

Barreled        156,725       3,830                  41

Bagged        1,547,041      76,683                  20

Tinned        1,926,068      84,543                  20.

BARRACKS AT WHITE POINT

     Plans for these barracks are well under way. Certain portable buildings belonging to the Aviation Service, originally intended for France, are being transferred for use in connection with these barracks.

TORPEDO REPAIR STATION

          Steps are being taken to proceed with the expansion of the Torpedo Repair station now located on Haulbowline17 to permit of taking care of the increased number of torpedoes which are to be expected when the new ships arrive for service in these waters. The Admiralty has agreed to bear one half the cost of the permanent structures, and the temporary structures will be a charge against us. The scheme as at present contemplated provides for housing at Haulbowline about 150 of the repair force. It also provides for a mess hall which will permit of the entire repair force being given the noon meal there. The remainder of the personnel will be quartered in the barracks at Whie Point, that, when their repair station is running to capacity, it will be necessary to transport about 50o men from White Point to Haulbowline in the morning, and back again in the afternoon, it will very probably become necessary later on to secure additional water transportation. This may take the form either of 50’ motor sailers or of a tug, if the services of one can be spared. This matter will be brought up again when it becomes necessary to take action. . . .

RADIO

          Radio compasses are being installed on the following ships

               CONYNGHAM

               MCDOUGAL

               McCALL

               TRIPPE

               DOWNES

               ROWAN

               BEALE

               CALDWELL (Cammell Lairds)18

               ROE           "      "

          The installation of Sperry Emergency Transmitters has been begun and they will be installed on all destroyers at the base.

BALLYBRICKEN HOUSE (BARRACKS)

          Electric lighting plant has been installed and the outside mess hall is completed and in use. Three hundred men are now quartered here.

FOURTH OF JULY, QUEENSTOWN

          The Fourth of July was celebrated as a holiday as far as could be done without detriment to the necessary upkeep of the destroyers. The United States Ensign was hoisted together with the British Ensign on the flag staff of the dockyard at Haulbowline. On the night of the Fourth of July, the attendance was 2,500. Athletic sports for the men of this command washeld on the Recreation Grounds at Ringaskiddy during the afternoon. These sports were participated in by British marines and bluejackets, and there was a large attendance of officers, their families and friends. There was a performance at the Men’s Club during the evening, which was very successful. It was necessary to repeat the performance on the following night in order that all officers and men who could not be accommodated, or who could not get on shore on the night of the 4th, might be able to see it.

     12.  FORCES BASED ON FRENCH COAST

          There are attached copies of reports of operations from Commander, Naval Forces in France for weeks ending 22 June and 30 June.19

          With reference to the “Analysis of the situation”, paragraph 4. of the report of the Commander, Naval Forces in France, dated 30 June, it is not considered that the reliable information at hand at all confirms such decided conclusions. While it is true that one and in some cases, two submarines have recently operated further at sea than has been the custom during the past six or eight months, still there is no indication whatever that submarine activity against the usual trade route lanes has been abandoned or is to be abandoned.

          The question if discussed more fully later in this report under the heading “General”.

          With the Department’s announced policy hereafter of sending one or possibly two destroyers across with each troop convoy, and the arrangements to ensure cruiser escort throughout passage as are now under consideration, it is considered that all reasonable measures which are within our power are being taken. . . .

17.       PLYMOUTH BASE.

          On July 5, Chief of Staff, Captain Twining, and Captain Schofield20 inspected the base at Plymouth with a view to its enlargement so as to be able to take care of 72 submarine chasers. They found twelve of the forty-one Chasers were on their operating ground, divided up into groups of three with the destroyer PARKER at sea in charge of the groups.

          Rapid progress is being made in getting the Base ready for upkeep of the chasers.

          Additional dock front has been taken over temporarily, so that facilities now exist for taking care of not less than fifty-four chasers, and probably 72 with a little crowding.

          The barracks for the men are admirably suited for the purpose. Machine tools for the repair shops have not yet arrived but are expected this week. Quite extensive repairs are being made to the houses on the property in order to put them in sanitary condition suitable for housing officers and chief petty officers attached to the station.

          The Commanding Officer of the Base is cooperating closely and cordially with the Senior British Naval Officer, but all Operation Orders to our vessels are issued by Commander Cotton.21

          The original ideaof having the Plymouth Base as a Base for supply of reserve stores will not be realized as fully as was expected, on account of the great demands for housing space for personnel.

          The Base is already doing Receiving Ship duty, having handled within ten days of its establishment as many as three drafts of men at one time, totaling over 200 individuals. It was necessary to give these men sleeping accommodations and meals. No doubt with the increased number of merchant vessels operating under the Navy, the increased number of Armed Guards, and the increased number of U. S. naval vessels operating in this area, the Receiving Ship duties of the Plymouth Base will increase to a very marked extent, making it necessary for the Base to use practically all the storehouses there as barracks.

          A report from Captain Leigh22 indicates that he will be in London in the latter part of July. He strongly recommends that an experienced officer of the regular navy be assigned to command each squadron of submarine Chasers in the war zone, as the experience of the Commanding Officers of these vessels is not sufficient to make it advisable to have them operate without immediate supervision of regular officers. I concur in this recommendation and have ordered two officers, Lieutenant Commander Bastedo and Lieutenant P. Lofton to Corfu.23

          No such officers have as yet been assigned to the Chasers at Plymouth. Officers now serving on the PARKER and ALYWIN can be used temporarily as Squadron Commanders.

     18.  FORCE COMMANDER’S VISIT OF INSPECTION

          The Force Commander recently made an inspection tour of the Queenstown Force, the Submarine Division and the Irish Air Stations. All were found in very satisfactory condition.

     19.  OPERATIONS OF U. S. S. OLYMPIA, MURMANSK, RUSSIA

          There are forwarded, herewith, reports of operations of the U. S. S. OLYMPIA from date of her arrival at MURMANSK, to June 15, 1918.24

     20.  FOURTH OF JULY CELEBRATIONS IN LONDON

          The Force Commander and his staff have been overwhelmed with invitations for entertainments and hospitality of all descriptions in the period immediately surrounding the Fourth of July. This applied as well to the enlisted men who were entertained widely and given free tickets to all threatres in London as well as steamer trips on the river and so forth.

          The baseball game on the Fourth of July between the two teams made up from Army and Navy Headquarters in London was attended by the King, Queen, Royal Family, practically all the Cabinet Officers, the majority of the Admiralty and War Office officials and a general attendance estimated as 40,000.25 . . .

     21.  CONDITIONS IN SPAIN

          As the question has frequently arisen in connection with the control of supplies to Spain, it is desired to report that the Admiralty has never received any reliable evidence indicating that submarines have based on Spanish ports or received supplies of any consequence from Spanish sources. Intelligence information is frequently received to the effect that submarines do communicate with the Spanish shore for instructions as well as for receipt of supplies and in fact, this belief is more or less general in both British and American forces in that area.

          The Admiralty state very positively their belief that there is no foundation for such rumors.

          Experience indicates that the controlling factor in the length of cruise of submarines, barring accidents, is their supply of torpedoes and ammunition. Factors of fuel and physical endurance so far overbalance the ammunition factor that they have little bearing upon the operating time spent by submarines away from their bases.

     22.  CO-OPERATION WITH U. S. ARMY

          Bishop Brent, Chaplain General U. S. Army, recently at the invitation of the Force Commander, visited our battleship division with the Grand Fleet and carried a message to our ships, as well as the British Fleet, from the Armies in the field.26

          He spoke on all American battleships and numerous British ships. On the Flagship the QUEEN ELIZABETH, men were collected from all ships of the Grand Fleet to hear him.

          The remarks were principally on the subject of the excellent cooperation existing in all parts of France between U. S. and Allied troops and concerning the excellent performance of duty to date by our troops in the field.

          Bishop Brent brought the following message from General Pershing to the Force Commander which has been published to all ships:

“My dear Admiral Sims:

     Permit me to take advantage of Bishop Brent’s visit to our Fleet to send to the Commander in Chief and officers and men of the American Navy in European Waters the most cordial greetings of the American Expeditionary Forces.

     The bond which joins together all men of American blood has been mightily strengthened and deepened by the rough hand of war. Those of us who are privileged to serve in the Army and Navy are to one another as brothers. Spaces of land and sea are nothing where a common purpose binds. We are so dependent upon one another that the honor, the fame, the exploits of the one, are the honor, the fame, the exploits of the other. If the enemy should dare to leave his safe harbor and set his ships in battle array, no cheers would be more ringing , as you and our allied fleets moved to his defeats, than those of the American Expeditionary Forces in France. We have unshaken confidence in you and are assured that when we stand on the threshold of peace, your record will be one worthy of your traditions.

     In the name of the American Expeditionary Forces and as its Commander in Chief, I bed you Godspeed.

     With high esteem and warm personal regard, I remain

Yours very sincerely

(s) John J. Pershing”

     24.  GENERAL

          Recently, for numerous reasons, some of which it is inadvisable to discuss in correspondence, it has been more difficult to keep track of submarines at sea.

          The enemy has apparently ceased to a large extent to use radio, which has prevented the use of radio direction finders and seems in general to have adopted much more stringent methods of surrounding with secrecy the movements of his submarines. This, of course, only applies up to the first contact with any of our forces or shipping.

          As reported by cable, there has been considerable indirect evidence to indicate the possibility of a more determined effort against U. S. Naval troop movements.

          A number of submarines have recently been working much further at sea, and considerable intelligence information none of which could be considered as strictly reliable, has been received to the effect that a determined campaign against our troop movements was being planned.

          The extended publicity given recently to the number of troops which have been transported and their immunity from loss has caused a great deal of comment in the enemy press which has brought forth numerous statements in the nature of a defence by the German Government and Naval officials.

          Speaking generally, the enemy has been considerably goaded in his failure to interrupt the transportation overseas of the U. S. Army.

          In view therefore of the above, and also of a study of the enemy press and the capital they make out of submarine activities in distant fields such as on the American coast, the bombardment of the Azores and Monrovia , it seems reasonable to expect a determined effort to sink one or two of our troop ships if for no other purpose than for the benefit of the German people and the prestige of the enemy Naval Service.

          This, of course, simply calls for the greatest possible care in routing, the best possible coordination between escort forces and convoys and general attention to alertness on the part of troop convoy captains and their lookouts.

          The Force Commander wishes to again lay stress upon the importance of preparing our own public for the possible loss of one or more troop ships eastward bound.

          If a submarine is willing to expend his relatively small number of torpedoes in “Browning” shots from long range,27 it is quite possible to obtain a hit in a troop convoy regardless of its speed, alertness, and the number of escorting vessels. This is a fact which cannot be escaped in view of the degree of visibility of submarines.

          Our immunity from such attacks in the past has been due to the very logical and justifiable tactics of the enemy of closing in to close range where the maximum chance of a hit is possible.

          Such tactics are justifiable in view of the number of submarines available, their torpedo supply and the distances at which they are forced to operate from their bases.

     25.  MISCELLANEOUS

          The patrol forces north of Scotland recently made attacks on three or four submarines outward bound at one time.

          It is considered possible that one was destroyed and another was damaged and forced to return to her base, the third was engaged by a group of Iceland fishing boats for six hours during which time about 150 shots were fired at her.28

          The COURAGEOUS and the UNDAUNTED recently cut mines with their paravanes to the eastward of the Firth of Forth well out to sea.

          A vessel recently struck a mine on the north coast of New Zealand. This was one of the mines of a field laid last year by the raider WOLF. The mine field was known and shipping had been warned to avoid it.

          A division of British destroyers supported by Monitors recently had an engagement with about eight German destroyers as announced in the press. No definite results. The action was opened at 12,000 yards and lasted 15 minutes.29

          Many of the forces on the east coast of England have recently been immobilized by influenza. These are the forces protecting coastal convoys. Three enemy submarines were operating in the area at the time staying out to sea during daylight and returning at dark. In two days they succeeded in torpedoing five ships.

          The enemy is constantly engaged in mine sweeping in the Bight generally supported by air ships.

          It is believed that the submarine which recently torpedoes the Canadian hospital ship S.- W of Ireland,30 was commanded by an officer who has been second in command of U-55 and that the Commanding Officer of U-55 has a record of torpedoing three hospital ships.31

          Until quite recently merchant ships have safely proceeded independently with pilots close in-shore in leaving the Channel. On about July 1st, however, a steamer was either torpedoed or mined west of Dungeness in eight fathoms of water.

          As indicating how easily false reports are circulated and created, it has been assumed that a British ship CLEOPATRA had sunk a submarine and captured eight prisoners. Later evidence has shown the report to be in error and that it had apparently originated with a joking remark of the CLEOPATRA as she passed another vessel.

          A number of mines were recently reported as being found off the Norwegian coast which apparently were of U. S. design. Steps have been taken to prevent detailed knowledge of these mines from reaching the enemy.

          The German battleship RHINELAND which had been ashore in the Baltic since April has been gotten off.32

          A violent explosion was recently heard in the North Foreland. It is possible that it was a submarine although the fact has not been confirmed.

          Reliable information indicates that of five U. B. boats went from Germany in the last few months to reinforce the Mediterranean only one arrived.

(Signed) Sims.

Source Note: Cy, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517B. There is a note at the top of the page: “Copy for Commander in Chief US Atlantic Fleet [ADM. Henry T. Mayo].” It is also stamped “SECRET.”

Footnote 1: “Fish” were towed hydrophonic or listening devices.

Footnote 2: A “special service ship” or Q ship was a warship disguised as a merchantman.

Footnote 3: Pantelleria is an island in the Strait of Sicily.

Footnote 4: Adm. Sir Lewis Bayly.

Footnote 5: VAdm. Sir Roger J. B. Keyes.

Footnote 6: VAdm. Stuart Nicholson, who was succeeded on 14 July 1918 by VAdm. Sir Edward F.B. Charlton.

Footnote 7: Charles L. Lambe, Commander, Royal Naval Air Service Dover Command, and General Commanding Office, VII Brigade, Royal Air Force. For more on Lambe and the situation at Dunkirk, see: Hutchinson I. Cone to Noble E. Irwin, 19 June 1918.

Footnote 8: Lt. Walter A. Edwards.

Footnote 9: The compilation has not been found.

Footnote 10: The print has not been found.

Footnote 11: Possibly Cmdr. Robert J. Buchannan.

Footnote 12: Wolcott has not been further identified.

Footnote 13: Lt. Cmdr. Edward G. Blakeslee.

Footnote 14: U.S.S. Glacier was a refrigerated supply ship.

Footnote 15: U.S.S. Cuyama was a tanker.

Footnote 16: Base 7 was Brest, France.

Footnote 17: Haulbowline is an island in Cork harbor close to Queenstown (Cobh), Ireland.

Footnote 18: Cammel Lairds was a shipyard in Liverpool, England.

Footnote 20: Capt. Nathan C. Twining, chief of staff for Sims and Capt. Frank H. Schofield, a member of the planning section of Sims’ staff.

Footnote 21: Cmdr. Lyman A. Cotton was the base commander; the senior British officer was Adm. Sir Alexander E. Bethell.

Footnote 22: Capt. Richard H. Leigh was organizing the submarine chaser command at Corfu in the Mediterranean.

Footnote 23: Lt. Cmdr. Paul H. Bastedo; possibly Edward H. Loftin.

Footnote 24: The report concerning OLYMPIA has not been found.

Footnote 25: For more on this baseball game, see: Sims to Anne Hitchcock Sims, 6 July 1918.

Footnote 26: Bishop Charles H. Brent, Chaplain General of the American Expeditionary Forces. For more on Brent’s visit to the Grand Fleet, see: Hugh Rodman to Josephus Daniels, 29 June 1918; and Sims to John J. Pershing, 1 July 1918.

Footnote 27: “Browning” was a well-known brand of shotgun. Sims meant that the submarines could fire a number of torpedoes in a wide spread in attempting to sink an American troopship. Despite Sims’ fears, the Germans never successfully torpedoed a loaded American troop ship.

Footnote 28: No German submarines were sunk in this area in later June or early July. Kemp, U-Boats Destroyed: 51-52.

Footnote 29: According to a report in the New York Times on 30 June, 1918, four British destroyers engaged a German destroyer force off the Belgian coast on 27 June but broke off the action “before any decisive results were attained.”

Footnote 30: H.M.H.S. Llandovery Castle was torpedoed by U-86 off southern Ireland on 27 June 1918 with a loss of 234 lives.  U-86 was under the command of Oberleutnant Helmut Patzig. His sinking of Llandovery Castle was considered an atrocity because he sank the hospital ship in contravention of international law and standing orders of the German Navy. Not only did he sink the ship, but he had his U-boat ram life boats and his crew shot survivors. He had served on U-55.

Footnote 31: U-55 attacked only one hospital ship, H.M.H.S. Rewa in January 1918.

Footnote 32: Someone crossed through the typed “RHINELAND” and handwrote “Rheinland” above it. Although it was re-floated, Rheinland was deemed too damaged to warrant repair and it was used as a barracks ship for the remainder of the war. Erich Gröner, German Warships, 1815-1945 (Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 1990), 23.

Tags