Vice Admiral William S. Sims, Commander, United States Naval Forces Operating in European Waters, to Captain Thomas P. Magruder, Commander (pro tempore), Patrol Squadrons, French Waters
Cablegram Sent 23 October 1917.
To Ampat, Brest Serial No. 111
Via N C B A 19 A D R Prep by Appvd. by
111. For Magruder. I wish to emphasize instructions already issued to Commander Patrol Squadrons on French Coast that paramount duty is to safeguard U.S. troop transports and supply ships on their arrival at and departure from French ports. All incoming troop transports are escorted to destination by Queenstown destroyers. All supply convoys from Hampton Roads and Sydney are carried to Brest by Queenstown destroyers. Your primary duty with respect to vessels so escorted is to have them met off entrance channels by your own or French vessels for purpose of pilotage, avoidance of mine fields, and augmentation of escort to destination. Supply convoys from New York will have to be met by your vessels in near vicinity of Brest and escorted to destination direct or via Brest at your discretion. For departing vessels the best possible escort must always be provided and vessels must not be permitted to sail singly or in small groups with insufficient escort even though detention of vessels is necessary in order to form one group with adequate number of escorting vessels. Read carefully Force Commander’s letter B nine six seven of September twenty seventh subject Duties of U.S. Naval Port Officers. Forward immediately by mail copy of any orders based on that letter issued to Naval Port Officer St. Nazaire by Rear Admiral Fletcher and any additional orders you may have issued in same connection. A report now in my possession indicates that possibly Commander Freeman has been improperly instructed as to his duties and responsibilities in connection with the outward escort of vessels. I wish to make it clear that the responsibilities for providing adequate escort and for seeing that vessels do not depart except under such escort rests with Senior U.S. Officer in Command on French Coast who has full authority to regulate all sailings and to proceed St. Nazaire or elsewhere at his discretion in case he thinks necessary. When U.S. forces available are insufficient, assistance of French may and should be requested.
Source Note: Cy, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517B.