Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

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.               OPERATING IN EUROPEAN WATERS          (C-4).

U. S. S. MELVILLE, Flagship.

          BASE SIX.1

             24 April, 1918.

My dear Admiral:

          I am returning herewith the correspondence which you forwarded for my information,2 which I have read with a great deal of interest, and I beg to tender you my thanks for your kindness in having sent it. As I told you two months ago in London, I too had heard the rumors as to Admiral Eberle’s coming over, but from the tone of your letter I imagine that there have been others and of a more positive form which have reached you in addition to those that came to me.3

          After considering the matter, I decided that you would probably desire that Admiral Bayly4 should know, in general terms, the state of the case and your ideas; and I also decided that I would communicate it to him verbally, and in general terms, without showing him any of the correspondence. I accordingly went to see Admiral Bayly yesterday and told him in substance the following –

“That there had appeared in one or two publications in the United States articles which, in effect, stated that there was some dissatisfaction at home over the fact that you were not personally present with the Destroyers at this Base. That you had further heard various rumors to the effect that Admiral Eberle was to be sent over to command the Destroyers at This Base. That you had written a very strong letter to Admiral Benson on the subject5 in which you stated positively that you did not wish any change made in the situation as it now existed and that you had asked Admiral Benson to inform you as to whether or not any such change as was indicated by the rumors you had heard was intended. I told him that there was no mistaking your attitude in the matter and that, in my judgment, the letter was one which could not possibly be passed over or ignored.”

Admiral Bayly immediately asked me what he could do in the matter, to which I replied that I considered the question one which must absolutely rest between the Navy Department and yourself, and that I did not consider that he could in any way enter into it. He agreed fully with this view, and then asked me if I were going to write you on the subject. Upon my saying that I should of course write you a letter and return the correspondence, he directed me to say to you that his ideas were absolutely in accord with yours; that you were both entirely agreed as to the inadvisability of making any change; and that, if and when, you desire him to make any move in the matter he would like you to inform him of that fact and also to inform him of exactly what you wish him to do. In the event of his receiving any such information from you, you may depend upon it that he will take action immediately.

          In connection with any contemplated changes down here, I do not recollect whether I have ever informed you in previous letters of the principal result of Admiral Wemyss’ visit to Queenstown,6 which was that Admiral Bayly received assurances that it was the intention to retain him in command of this Station and not to disturb him at the end of this three years of office which expires in July next. Of course, there is no telling what may happen in the future, but at present it is the intention to retain Admiral Bayly here. In my judgment and entirely apart from any consideration of the personalities that may be involved in this matter, it would be wholly impossible to conduct affairs at this Base on any other general system than the system upon which they are at present conducted; that is to say, the Commander-in-Chief must control the movements of the ships, and the senior officer of our own ships must look out for the internal administration, discipline, supply, etc.

Very sincerely yours,             

JRPoinsett Pringle.          

Source Note: TLS, DLC-MSS, William S. Sims Papers, Box 47. Addressed below close: “Vice-Admiral Wm.S.Sims, U.S.N.,/30 Grosvenor Gardens,/London, S.W. 1.”

Footnote 1: Queenstown (Cobh), Ireland.

Footnote 2: On this correspondence, see: Sims to Pringle, 19 April 1918.

Footnote 3: As seen at Ibid., Capt. Edward W. Eberle, the Superintendent of the Naval Academy, remained at his post for the duration of the war.

Footnote 4: Adm. Lewis Bayly, the British commander of naval forces in southern Ireland and the officer in charge at Queenstown, where the U.S. destroyers were based.

Footnote 6: First Sea Lord Admiral Sir Rosslyn Wemyss had visited Queenstown in later March. See: Wemyss to Sims, 26 March 1918.

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