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Vice Admiral William S. Sims, Commander, United States Naval Forces Operating in European Waters, to Anne Hitchcock Sims

The Carlton, London          

Monday, July 22, 1918

My darling Nani

              We can never be quite sure these days when the next mail will go. Some days ago a mail was announced to leave (on Saturday, I think), and as I had been too busy to write, I dictated a letter and left almost immediately for Portsmouth to meet the Asst Secretary.1 This morning it was announced that the mail is delayed until tomorrow. Today I was busy introducing the Secretary, etc., so I dictated an addition to the letter and brought the news up to date.2 So this will be only a small note on certain topics.

     I have no letter of yours to answer because somebody in Washington made a mistake. A big mail arrived on Saturday with many bags from the Department, O.N.I. and the State Department, but not a single letter from you or Madame Bess. Somebody just forgot to put them in. This has happened at least once before, and I am making a “few remarks” about it with a view to having it corrected.

     I am not pleased over the G. C. M. G. (The Grand Cross of the Order of St Michael and St George, or words to that effect), which has been announced in the press here, and doubtless at home. This is an order of knighthood. According to British custom, I am Vice Admiral Sir William Sims. Frankly, I do not like it. I do not think the bill passed by the Congress intended that sort of thing,3 and I fear it will have a bad effect at home. The bill said that officers of the military services were authorized to accept decorations from our allies during this war, but I think that was meant to include only war decorations and medals, and not honorary ones such as are given in time of peace to anybody they please. I have been recommending that our destroyer captains be allowed to receive the D.S.O. (Distinguished Service Order) etc., but I did not advocate the honorary distinctions. It is more than probable that France and Italy will follow suit. What will be thought about it at home. Note the enclosed editorial with comments only upon war distinctions.4 I am curious to see what the editorial comments will be in our press. You have doubtless seen that Generals Pershing, Bliss and March5 have also been decorated- presumably more distinguished orders than mine, tho I do not at present know anything about them. I am afraid it is a sad business. Of course all my friends (British) over here are highly pleased, and this applies also to many Americans. See the letters and telegrams I am forwarding when you write. Please tell me just what you think about it. Of course you need not tell anybody what I think about it, for no matter what is thought about it at home, it would not do to have my opinion known over here. We must “get on with the war.” The decoration is undoubtedly good propaganda on this side.

     I must be off to bed now, as times have been a bit strenuous lately, and I am a bit tired tonight. The news is all good from the Western front, but there will doubtless be bitter fighting all summer and there is no telling when the war will end. We can only hope that it will be soon.

     In the meantime, I am missing you so sadly and longing to be with you and our precious children. Kiss and hug each darling for me.

Your devoted


Source Note: ALS, DLC-MSS, William Sims Papers, Box 10.

Footnote 1: Assistant Secretary of the Navy Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Footnote 2: See: Sims to Sims, 22 July 1918.

Footnote 3: The bill to which Sims is referring was an act of legislation that allowed American military personnel to accept foreign decorations, honors, titles, and distinctions for meritorious service in the war. For more on this act, see: Leigh C. Palmer to Sims, 18 July 1918.

Footnote 4: The enclosed article is no longer with this letter.

Footnote 5: Maj. Gen. John J. Pershing, Commander, American Expeditionary Forces, Maj. Gen. Tasker H. Bliss, American Permanent Military Representative, Supreme War Council, and Maj. Gen. Peyton C. March, Army Chief of Staff.

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