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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




13 September, 1917.

My dear Admiral:

     With reference to the invitation from the Lord Mayor which I sent you yesterday,1 I have had a conversation on the subject with Admiral Bayly,2 and I am directed by him to say to you that he received a similar invitation but declined it.

     A copy of an Admiralty communication received from Admiral Bayly yestday is enclosed.3 You will observe my endorsement thereon stating that duplicate reports required will be sent.

     The HOUSTON sails at 3 p.m. (B.S.T.) today under escort of two sloops, and I am sending back by her a number of men transferred for various reasons, and I regret to say, Chief Carpenter McCall Pate of the DIXIE, (he is an assistant naval constructor but not yet commissioned), who is condemned by a medical survey for chronic rheumatism and recommended to be transferred to a United States hospital for treatment. Mr. Pate is a most excellent man, and I regret extremely that he should have to leave the station. As he was the head of the DIXIE’S repair force, I think that he should be replaced by an officer of similar rank as soon as possible, and I beg that you will take steps to accomplish this

     I am wiring you today requesting that you take steps to send 12 yeomen down for duty at this base. The administrative work is increasing, and the yeomen present on hand are not sufficient for the work. In addition thereto, some of the chief yeomen are candidates for warrant appointments, and our clerical force will be still further depleted if any of them are warranted. I desire to establish a communication office with Lieutenant (j.g) Davis at the head of it,4 and I need at least four good yeoman for that purpose alone. Furthermore, the work of the supply and repair departments requires more assistants.

     I have not yet been able to conclude the negotiations for the rental of the building at Passage to be used as barracks for training men, but Paymaster Wainwright5 has the matter in hand and I have no doubt we shall be able to conclude some arrangements later on. Before I finally sign a contract for the rental of the building, I will inform you that we are in a position to do so, and I advise that we then obtain from the Department information as to whether or not they propose to send us men for training, in addition to the five hundred that we have already said we could take, They should give us a positive statement to this effect before we sign the contract in order to avoid the useless expenditure of the money. The building will not be needed unless we are to have more men than those we have already indicated our ability to take.

     Rear Admiral Power and Sir Robert Bell,6 both from the Admiralty, will inspect the MELVILLE today, and I will show them every facility.

     I am leaving today at 11 o’clock on board the JACOB JONES to accompany Admiral Bayly on an inspection of the German submarine recently sunk at Waterford by the explosion of a mine.7 We expect to return this afternoon.

     I have heard nothing further from the authorities regarding their contemplated action in Parente’s case up to date. I have informed the United States Consul of the circumstances but there seems to be no necessity for the Consul taking any action in the matter until circumstances should arise which would require it.8

     Liberty was granted to visit Queenstown last night, and conditions were apparently normal.

     I was requested by the Chief of Staff9 yesterday to come on board the COLLEEN to confer with the Provost Marshall of Cork,10 which I accordingly did. As near as I could gather from the Provost Marchall’s conversation, he had come down here at the suggestion or direction of some higher official to endeavor to get from me an expression of my attitude regarding further liberty to Cork. I informed him that the matter was in the hands of Vice Admiral Bayly, under whose command these forces were acting, and that I had no official views to express to him on this subject. I think without doubt that the better element of Cork will be glad to see the restrictions raised but I do not think that Admiral Bayly has any intention to raise them at present.

     I have not yet been able to consult with the Commanding Officer of the PATTERSON11 and to have Church12 make a thorough inspection of his boilers as the ship is not in port, but as soon as she arrives, Church will make the inspection and I will then submit to you a proposed answer to the Department’s cable on that subject.

     I am also in receipt of a report from the Commanding Officer of the WALKE13 informing me that the date of completion of the WALKE’S repairs has been fixed by the Devonport officials as 18 September.

I am also in receipt of a report from the Commanding Officer of the WALKE covering the injury to the port turbine, which I am forwarding herewith. I am of the opinion that no further action is necessary in this matter, and as you will observe from my endorsement thereon, have so stated for the information of the Bureau Steam Engineering.

     The BENHAM has been directed to submit a weekly report of the progress of the work, and I will inform you as to the progress of her repairs when I am in possession of information on the subject.

     The WADSWORTH, TUCKER, and FANNING left yesterday for Liverpool, and you will undoubtedly see Taussig14 in London very shortly as he told me before leaving that he intended going up.

     Rooms have been reserved at the Queen’s Hotel for 6 members of the Commander-in-Chief’s staff on or about 26th of September. I have not again spoken to anyone as to the accommodations to be expected at Admiralty House, but unless you hear from me to the contrary, you may consider that there will be accommodation for 4, as I have previously indicated.15

Very sincerely yours,


Vice Admiral W.S. Sims, USN,


P.S. Forwarded herewith is a further invitation just received for your Secretary.16 If this does not reach you too late, I suggest that a suitable reply to this be sent at the same time that you send your own.

Source Note: LTS, DLC-MSS, William Sims Papers, Container 79. In the top right corner of each page is the identifying number, “31/3/1.”

Footnote 1: Walter Callan was the Leading Magistrate at Queenstown. The invitation referenced here by Pringle has not been located.

Footnote 2: Vice Admiral Sir Lewis Bayly, R.N., Commander, Naval Forces, Southern Ireland, and the commander at Queenstown. As senior officer, Pringle commanded the American destroyer flotilla there when Sims was not present, which was most of the time.

Footnote 3: This enclosure no longer accompanies this letter.

Footnote 4: Ward P. Davis.

Footnote 5: Assistant Paymaster Dallas B. Wainwright, Jr.

Footnote 6: RAdm. Laurence E. Power, Director of Dockyards and Repairs, and Sir Thomas Robert Bell, Deputy Controller for Dockyards and Shipbuilding.

Footnote 7: This was the German U-boat UC-44. This submarine was sunk on 4 August after accidently detonating one of its own mines.

Footnote 8: It is not clear who “Parente” is or the specific legal trouble he found himself in. Based on the context in Pringle’s letter, however, it is likely Parente was an American sailor that found himself in some sort of legal trouble while on liberty or shore leave. The United States Consul at Cork (Queenstown) was Charles M. Hathaway, Jr.

Footnote 9: Capt. Robert Scott.

Footnote 10: Edward Donohoe.

Footnote 11: Lt. Cmdr. John M. Luby.

Footnote 12: Cmdr. John G. Church.

Footnote 13: Lt. Cmdr. Charles F. Russell.

Footnote 14: Cmdr. Joseph K. Taussig, Commander, Wadsworth.

Footnote 15: Pringle is her referring to the visit of Adm. Henry T. Mayo, Commander-in-Chief, Atlantic Fleet, who was then in England on a naval mission. Mayo was not scheduled to visit Queenstown until 26 September 1917. Admiralty House was Bayly’s residence and headquarters. See: Pringle to Sims, 6 September 1917.

Footnote 16: Lt. Cmdr. Harold R. Stark, Sims' Flag Secretary.

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