Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels to Rear Admiral William S. Sims, Commander, United States Destroyers Operating from British Bases, and Captain William D. MacDougall, American Naval Attaché in London

CABLE DISPATCH

<April 28, 1917>

RECEIVED: April 29th, 1917                   TO: Naval Attache.

     Rear Admiral Sims detached all duty Newport.1Assume command all U.S.Destroyers operating from British bases including tenders and auxiliaries these, to be sent later2 (stop) Babcock detached all duty Newport report duty Aide3 (stop) Sims and Babcock continue present duty in addition to destroyer duty (period) MacDougall provide Sims and Babcock with such funds as experience shows to be necessary connection this addition<ceal> duty. 21028.

DANIELS.

Source Note: Cy, RG 45, Entry 517. In the upper left-hand corner is the notation: “Admiral Sims/Personal File.” Someone wrote in “April 28, 1917” as the date of the dispatch after crossing through “RECEIVED: April 29th, 1917” and “To: Alusna, London, after crossing through “TO: Naval Attache.” Finally, that person crossed through the “ce” in “additionce” and wrote “al” above the line.

Footnote 1: Before being sent to England in late March, 1917, Sims was president of the Naval War College in Newport, RI.

Footnote 2: The first division of American destroyers, six in number, arrived at the British base at Queenstown (Cobh), Ireland, on 4 May. Sims’ first order to the commanders of these destroyers was dated 29 April, the day he received this appointment. That order is printed elsewhere in this edition. As seen there, while Sims had overall command of the destroyers, operational control was exercised by British Vice Admiral Sir Lewis Bayly, the commander at Queenstown. Or as Sims informed his wife:

. . . not that I will handle them [the destroyers] at sea but that I will have general control of their operations while carrying out my present duties in connection with the admiralty. It may also be considered something of a compliment that I am put in command instead of sending [Adm. Albert] Gleaves or some admiral senior to me in command of them. Simms to Anne Hitchcock Sims, 29 April 1917, DLC-MSS, William S. Sims Papers.

As a result of receiving this command, Sims was, on 26 May 1917, promoted to the rank of vice admiral and on 14 June his title was changed to “Commander, United States naval forces operating in European waters.” Naval Investigation, 2: 1995. The first U.S. destroyer tender to arrive, Melville, steamed into Queenstown on 22 May. By the time of the Armistice in November 1918, 47 destroyers, 7 submarines, 2 destroyer tenders, 1 submarine tender, 30 sub-chasers, 1 mystery ship, 1 mine-layer, and 3 tugs from the U.S. Navy had served at Queenstown. Taussig, Queenstown Patrol: 192n.

Footnote 3: Comdr. John V. Babcock accompanied Sims to England.

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