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Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels to Vice Admiral William S. Sims, Commander, United States Naval Forces Operating in European Waters

Telegram from Daniels, Secretary, U.S. Navy,

to Vice-Admiral Sims


29.  No allied nation with whom the Navy is co-operating has given definite indications of what assistance in air work it desired the United States Navy to supply.

     Definite information along those lines is desired immediately in order that necessary steps for expansion extending beyond our coastal and fleet needs be taken.

     After consultation with Naval French Admiralty outline by cable a policy for our aircraft to meet present conditions and to supply naval aircraft aid desired by English and French.1

     Attention called to fact this refers to strictly naval aviation.



Received in London 22/6/17.


5th S. Lord2

     Will you please let 1st S. Lord3 know what you propose to ask for?

Sd. - - -


Source Note: Cy, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517B.

Footnote 1: Sims replied to Daniels on 3 July, that the Royal Navy desired seaplane carriers, seaplane tenders, 100 kite balloons, powerful aircraft engines, trained pilots and mechanics, and one complete squadron of large seaplanes. Despite these needs, the British showed little interest in the establishment of independent American air bases or a need for organized units of Navy personnel. Sims added that he had not heard yet from France regarding its needs, and that it would be difficult to obtain such information, owing to the small size of his staff. See, Sims to Daniels, 3 July 1917, RG45, Entry 517, Box 172. For French needs, Daniels drew upon other sources of information, including the French Naval Attaché at Washington, Cmdr. Bernard A. de Blanpré, and Capt. Bernard Smith, Assistant Naval Attaché (aviation) at Paris. In parallel and separate discussions from those in London, the French Ministry of Marine requested the dispatch of American personnel to aid in the anti-submarine campaign. Shortly thereafter, Adm. William S. Benson, Chief of Naval Operations agreed to send 100 men to France for training, to be known as the First Aeronautic Division, under the command of Lt. Kenneth Whiting. Geoffrey L. Rossano, Stalking the U-Boat: U.S. Naval Aviation in Europe During World War I (Gainesville: University of Florida Press, 2010), 7. See also, Clifford Lord, “The History of Naval Aviation, 1898-1939,” (Washington, D.C.: Naval Aviation History Unit, Office of the Deputy Chief of Naval Operations (Air), 1946), 302, 305; and Whiting to Sims, “History of the First Aeronautic Detachment,” 29 November 1918.

Footnote 2: Commo. Sir Godfrey Paine. Appointed to the newly-created position of Fifth Sea Lord by Adm Sir David Beatty, Commander-in-Chief, Grand Fleet, in January 1917, Paine assumed responsibility over the Royal Naval Air Services.

Footnote 3: Adm. Sir John R. Jellicoe.

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