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Vice Admiral William S. Sims, Commander, United States Naval Forces Operating in European Waters, to Rear Admiral Henry B. Wilson, Commander, United States Patrol Squadrons Operating in European Waters 

March 9th. 1918.

My dear Wilson,

          Under date of January 14th. I wrote you a personal letter, concerning alleged serious criticisms that have been made in your organization of our organization in general and of me in particular.1 Though this was a personal letter, of course you will recognize that it referred to a very serious subject. I decided to take this up with you personally in the hope that the difficulty might be straightened out without making it a matter of official record.

          I have not received any reply to my letter of January 14th. Please let me know without delay whether or not it reached you. Sometimes the mails unaccountably go astray. Assuming that the letter did reach you, I have of course assumed that the delay in acknowledging it was doe to the fact that you were still carrying on investigation on this subject. I think you will recognise that I must be assured that the condition of affairs specified in the letter referred to must be straightened out, and that I must have the assurance of the fact. Will you therefore be so kind as to let me hear from you on this subject as soon as convenient.

          I know that I need not assure you again of my desire that everything on the French coast should go along successfully – so successfully as to enable me to stick into your hat the largest kind of a red feather when the proper time comes. Of course you know, as well as I do, that my personal interests are as closely bound up in success on the French coast as yours are; that while you would necessarily receive practically all the credit for success in carrying out these duties, I must beat [i.e., bear] the principal weight of any responsibility for lack of success.

          Also let me as-sure2 you again, that I have personally for you the kindlieut [i.e., kindliest] possible feeling. Ever since I can remember, I have always been glad when circumstances of our duty threw us together, for I knew that this meant a very pleasant intercourse, you being an entertaining and stimulating person. Let me assure you most positively, that this is not camouflage of any kind. I desire your success earnestly, and that is quite independent of my personal interests in that success.3

Very sincerely yours,


Source Note: Cy, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517B. “Admiral Sims’/Personal File.” appears in the upper-left corner, and identification numbers “1/5/J” and “1/3/2” appear in the upper right-hand corner in columnar fashion. Addressed below close: “Rear Admiral Henry B. Wilson, U.S.N./U.S.Naval Forces in France,/B r e s t.”

Footnote 2: The “as-” is typed as an interlineation above the line.

Footnote 3: Sims discussed his issues with Wilson and the steps he was planning to take in a personal letter to Adm. William S. Benson, Chief of Naval Operations; see: Sims to William S. Benson, 7 March 1918. Although Sims consistently claimed to have a high opinion of Wilson, both personally and professionally, bad blood between the two predated the war. Wilson continued to ignore Sims’ personal letters, save for one response later in 1918 that wrote off stories of criticism and disloyalty emanating from his station as mere “rumors.” Sims later tried to have Wilson relieved, but Wilson’s great success in protecting troop transports and his popularity with Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels and Benson made removing him impossible. Still, Crisis at Sea: 56.

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