Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Captain Joel R. Poinsett Pringle, Chief of Staff, Destroyer Flotillas, to Vice Admiral William S. Sims, Commander, United States Naval Forces Operating in European Waters

[Extract]

REFER TO           UNITED STATES NAVAL FORCES         

NO.            OPERATING IN EUROPEAN WATERS,               

U. S. S. MELVILLE, FLAGSHIP.

BASE SIX, [Queenstown, Ireland]   

12 June 1918.                     

My dear Admiral:

          Your letters of June 8th and 9th have both been received1 and I was very glad to hear of your satisfactory visit to the North. If we can make a go on the mining proposition we should, in connection with the increased depth charge work which is being done, make it very unhealthy for the submarines, and I was very glad to see how enthusiastic you were over the results of the mining activities to date. . . .

          Your letter of June 9th forwarding a copy of <The> letter relative to the Naval Officer’s mess in Brest, France, was as you justly observed – a document of very considerable interest to me. This matter of a club over here is really not, properly speaking, an effort to establish primarily a club at all, but an effort on my part to procure some place where the younger officers may go and find good sleeping accommodations. Of course, if we can get a place where we can put a billiard table and have a reading room with magazines in it, we will do so, but primarily I wish to get a house in which officers may sleep if they wish. I have always been very fully alive to the possibilities contained in any such action, and you may rely confidently upon it that any activity undertaken will be conducted in such manner as to be proper in itself and entirely outside of any official status whatever. I am considering the opening of negotiations with the proprietor or proprietress of a small hotel looking towards having a certain number of rooms and perhaps a big reading room set apart for the use of officers, but really, the facilities are so very limited here in Queenstown that I do not know that we shall ultimately be successful. However, I will do my best, and I imagine that we will be able to put something over one way or another.2

          Everything is moving along quietly, and I am greatly in hopes that we shall soon have some of our crippled ships back on the job.

          Incidentally, I have just this morning had a phone message from McCrary3| to say that the workmen at Wexford and Lough Foyle had gone on strike,4 and that he proposed to discharge all the workmen and complete the necessary work at those stations with his own men.5 He further stated that he thought that this might precipitate trouble, and wanted to know if he could get an additional supply of rifles and ammunition. I had an officer telephone to McCrary that I thought it very likely such action on his part might precipitate trouble and that since both of us held those views, I did not wish him to take any such action until he had informed the Commander-in-Chief6 in the premises and gotten from the Commander-in-Chief an expression of his approval or disapproval of the contemplated action. As McCrary has been placed on the Commander-in-Chief’s staff, I see no reason why he should not take the question up directly with the Admiral, and I told him to do so. I have not yet heard the result. Under these circumstances, I am very glad that we have Cooke at Lough Foyle.7 Herbster, as you know, is at Wexford.8

Very sincerely yours,

JR Poinsett Pringle     

Source Note: TLS, DLC-MSS, William S. Sims Papers, Box 79. Document identifier in top right-hand corner: “(C-4).”

Footnote 1: Neither letter has been found.

Footnote 2: The war ended before the club could be set up.

Footnote 3: Cmdr. Francis B. McCrary, the naval aviation commander in Ireland.

Footnote 4: The workmen went on strike for higher wages at Lough Foyle; at Wexford, the strike, according to one historian, was the work of Sinn Fein agitators. Rossano, Stalking the U-Boat: 213, 220, 225.

Footnote 5: U.S. Navy enlisted personnel completed the work in place of the workmen and flying operations began at Lough Foyle on 3 September and at Wexford on 18 September. Ibid., 215.

Footnote 6: Adm. Sir Lewis Bayly, R.N.

Footnote 7: Cmdr. Henry Cooke. Cooke had served under Pringle at Queenstown where he commanded the destroyer U.S.S. Allen. Lt. Carl Hull relieved Cooke on 7 July 1918. Ibid., 225.

Footnote 8: Lt. Cmdr. Victor D. Herbster. For a profile of Herbster, see, Ibid., 220-21.

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