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Captain Richard H. Jackson, American Naval Representative to the Ministry of Marine, to Vice Admiral William S. Sims, Commander, United States Naval Forces Operating in European Waters


23, rue de la Paix

Paris________June 25, 1917._____

My dear Admiral,

          I arrived at Paris via Bordeaux June 21, and reported at Embassy; then called at French Admiralty where I was warmly received.1

          I have reported to you by despatch by direction of the Navy Department for instructions as to my duties. Copies of my orders and of orders to report to you are enclosed herewith.2

          My orders were intentionally made general, simply to represent the Navy Department as you see. The idea explained to me and given to the French Government was that I was to take charge of everything in France, working with you. Also to see what was most needed on the Patrol and in the submarine campaign.3 I took in the situation at Bordeaux before coming to Paris.

          As soon as I got through with my calls and had gone over things at the Embassy, I went over the organization and distribution of the Patrol in the Atlantic and Channel with the Captain at the head of that work, which is under Rear Admiral Vigneaux.4 I expect to get through with that Monday.

          Tuesday night I will go to Brest and confer with the Chief of the Patrol Division of that District and also meet Rear Admiral Gleaves.5

          About July 1, I thought some of the destroyers would be returning to their base and I might return on one of them to report in person, get indoctrinated, and tell you what I know.6

          When I leave for Brest I will arrange with liaison officer at the French Navy Department to forward messages for me in French Code to Chief of Patrol Division at Brest, with whom I will make my headquarters while at Brest.

          Information from our Navy Department is now coming via the French Naval Attaché in Washington to the Minister of Marine and decoded and sent to our Embassy.7

Yours sincerely,


Source Note: TLS, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517. Addressed below close: “Vice Admiral Sims, Commanding./c/o British Admiralty./LONDON. S.W.” There is a handwritten note at the bottom of the last page by Sims’ aide Cmdr. John V. Babcock: “I suggest that after/Jackson has become/familiar with French/situation – he come/here and report/to you -/JVB.”

Footnote 1: Sims relayed a request from the French that a liaison officer be sent to Paris in a letter to the Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels on 30 May 1917. See: Sims to Daniels, 30 May 1917.

Footnote 2: See: Benson to Jackson, 2 June 1917.

Footnote 3: Despite what he wrote here, the Department never spelled out exactly what Jackson’s responsibilities were. As a result, there was confusion and an inefficient command system involving Jackson, RAdm. William Fletcher, the commander of the American anti-submarine forces in France, and the American Naval Attaché at Paris, Capt. William R. Sayles. Matters were not resolved until October, 1917. Still, Crisis at Sea: 50-52.

Footnote 4: Contre-Amiral Marie Benjamin Gaston Jean Merveilleux du Vignaux was the Deputy Naval Chief-of-Staff.

Footnote 5: The French commander at Brest was Louis Rémy Amédée Antoine Exelmans; RAdm. Albert Gleaves was commander of the convoy that brought the first detachment of American troops to France.

Footnote 6: Some of the destroyers that had served as an escort for the troop convoy were stationed at Queenstown, Ireland.

Footnote 7: Cmdr. Bernard A. de Blanpré was the French Naval Attaché at Washington; Adm. Marie Jean Lucien Lacaze was the French Minister of Marine.

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