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
REFER TO UNITED STATES NAVAL FORCES
NO. <4254> OPERATING IN EUROPEAN WATERS (C-4)
U. S. S. MELVILLE, FLAGSHIP.
19 April 1918.
My dear Admiral:
I have your letter of 16 April,and will attend to the matter of Ensign Newlin’s orders.
Many thanks for the limerick.
Nothing of any special interest has taken place here recently, but I am very much afraid that our activities will be considerably hampered by the disturbed conditions resulting from the introduction of conscription into Ireland.
I went yesterday with Admiral Bayly and made an inspection of the Seaplane Station at Whiddy Island, and the Kite Balloon Station at Berehaven. At Whiddy Island, I find that our Aviation detail is not, at present, living on Whiddy Island itself but is quartered in the town of Bantry. This detail consists of about forty-six men and is in charge of a reserve ensign, Peterson, by name.
The work on the Station at Whiddy Island itself is being prosecuted by contractors engaged by the British Admiralty in accordance with the usual custom that has been adopted for the preparation of these stations, which are eventually to be turned over to us. The officer in charge of works (representative of the Admiralty) informed us that some of his men had already left and that he had been at considerable pains to induce the others to believe that they were not to be immediately rounded up and put in service, in order to prevent them from leaving. As an evidence of the state of mind of these workmen, I may mention that the Admiral had telephoned ahead for a mine-laying launch to meet him at Bantry and take him across to Whiddy Island, but, upon our arrival at Bantry, we were informed by the Lieutenant in command of the launch that the contractor requested the Admiral not to use the mine-laying launch for the trip to Whiddy Island but to go over in a tug. The reason for this is that the mine-laying launch mounts a gun and flies the White Ensign, and the state of mind of the workmen employed is such that they would at once believe that the launch had arrived for the purpose of rounding them up, and would accordingly stop work. I found the work progressing fairly well at Whiddy Island and from there we went on to Berehaven where we inspected the Kite Balloon Station. The six hangars for the kite balloons are complete but there is a considerable amount of work remaining to be done in connection with the full development of the Station. All workmen had left, and there was no work in progress at that Station. I am not informed accurately as to what effect on the workmen employed at Wexford the situation has had up to date, but, I presume some of them have stopped work, and I presume that others will stop before long. The working force at Aghada (the station <here>) has been reduced somewhat.
I mention these things to show you that we may expect to be considerably handicapped in the prosecution of any work at this Base, or elsewhere, which work depends for its accomplishment upon the employment of civilian labor. The two projects that I am most interested in here, at present, are the establishment of the Base Hospital and the construction of a storehouse on the railroad property, which we are about to take over for that purpose. I feel sure that these two projects will be delayed to some extent as a result of these conditions, and I will do my best to try and put them through in some fashion by the employment of labor from this Force, but, there are, of course, not enough men now for the prosecution of all the work with destroyers in as expeditious a manner as we would like, and as the up-keep of destroyers must, of necessity, take precedence over every other activity, it is very doubtful whether we shall be able, with the labor available within this Force, to put through the Base Hospital project or the storehouse project within anything like a reasonable time, if we can do it at all.
The matter of the storehouse is one which is causing me very considerable concern as we have absolutely no facilities available beyond those which are now in use, and which are not completely adequate for the stowage of supplies that are already here and those that are expected to arrive.
I have impressed upon McCrary the necessity for the exercise on the part of the officers in charge of the various Aviation detachments throughout Ireland of the utmost tact and discretion in their dealing with the civil population under the circumstances existing, and I trust that we may not have any cases of friction arise.
Captain Leigh will, or course, give you full information as to the development of Beehler’s listening device and I presume that he will desire to employ Beehler’s services in that connection for sometime to come. I think Beehler will be of much more value to the Service and to the prosecution of the war if he is employed in that connection rather than on sea service with destroyers, as I do not believe that Beehler is sufficiently strong physically to stand the strain of destroyer duty. He has been employed as Executive of the DIXIE since his arrival at the Base; and if Leigh desires to employ Beehler in the connection with the development of his device, I can very readily arrange for Beehler to be detached from the DIXIE and replace him by an officer from the Force.
I dare say the various members of the London Force who have been here recently will give you all the news and gossip that there is extant at the Base, and I trust that they were all benefitted by their trip.
We are somewhat cheered up over the recent news from the Front, and none of us here have any doubt but what we shall pull through in the long run.
With best wishes, believe me
Very sincerely yours,