Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Rear Admiral Herbert O. Dunn, Commander, Azores Detachment, to Vice Admiral William S. Sims, Commander, United States Naval Forces Operating in European Waters

OFFICE OF DETACHMENT COMMANDER.

 6 April 1918.     

My dear Sims:

     I am in receipt of your good letter of February 14th1 and thank you very much for the good wishes and tender help contained herein.

     Concerning the 7-inch guns, they are now both mounted and ready for use. The concrete magazines which I am building near each gun are practically finished. The Portuguese Officers and native troops are drilling at the guns with the intention of taking them over when they have become proficient in their use. I am delaying as far as possible this part of the program, hoping that I may hear from you that some decision has been reached in regard to keeping the guns in our own possession. I am quite convinced that the guns would deteriorate and practically go to pot if the natives succeed in having them entirely in their own care.

     I am very glad to hear that you are going to send me the Panther. A repair ship is absolutely necessary here and I am quite sure the Panther will fill the bill.

     On the 8th I intend to start the two French Chasers and the Canadian Drifters convoyed by the Barnegat and Gypsum Queen to their destination.2 There has been considerable delay with these boats, by the time we would fix up one chaser and have a trial trip, she would break down and return for more repairs. The tugs also have been used for such necessary service during the rough season that they also have broken down repeatedly and required extensive repairs. However, I hope to get rid of them this week.

     The French Chaser No. 171, I am going to send direct to Gibraltar when the Wheeling leaves. The tug Montauk I am keeping as you suggest, as she or a good sea-going tug is an absolute necessity at this base at all times.

     The political situation here is satisfactory. The new Governor seems to be willing to co-operate in all matters so far.3

     The sending of the flour here has made a great hit and is most gratefully appreciated. It will be carefully distributed, and as the price is nearly one half of the price of the native flour, you can readily imagine that the move is a popular one.

     The Hancock4 took a small cargo to the United States and the Chamber of Commerce here is very enthusiastic on the subject of getting some of the products of the Island abroad to the United States.

     Tonight being the anniversary of our entering the war, we are giving a vaudeville performance at the theatre for the benefit of the Portuguese Red Cross. This has been enthusiastically supported by the people here. All the seats are taken and the second performance will be given Monday night for the people who could not get seats for the first performance.

     I am going to ask you a favor in regard to detail to duty in European Waters of my Flag Lieutenant, Dresel.5 He has been with me now three years and feels that he should have an opportunity for active service on a destroyer. While I am sorry to have him go, I do not feel that I should obstruct his professional career and therefore, I recommend that you give him a position as second Officer of one of the destroyers in European waters, provided you will send me a competent officer to take his place. Dresel is an officer of excellent abilities and thoroughly competent for the duty desired. Please send the relief first so he can take over the job.

     You will understand that the Margaret is absolutely unfit for sea duty and the Galatea but little better. This leaves me with no available boats to convoy through the barred zone the many vessels which come and go that should have such protection.6 While I appreciate the scarcity of destroyers, still I think the subject is of such importance, that I feel that I should urge the sending of tw at least two destroyers as a minimum to this base.

     Thanking you for so promptly meeting with my various requests, I remain,

Very sincerely,              

Dunn               

P.S. I have given some pretty good dinners etc. and have the social business in the “simpatica” status. Diplomatic sugar has been used-un-Hooverized7 and I am not throwing boquets when I say the people here think I am the real fromage. The new Governor comes to the house unofficially once a week and takes an English lesson so I am getting next to him. I hear of little or no German talk now and as my scouts are pretty keen on the scent I think the propaganda is about dead. I think I am solid with the natives. Do you know when the U.S. will recognize the Lisbon Gov’t.??8 Please advise me if it comes off – meantime I will remain cheerful.

D.                 

Source Note: Cy, DLC-MSS, William S. Sims Papers, Box 23. Document reference: “1/5/J.” Note at top of letter: “Admiral Sim’s Personal File.”

Footnote 1: See: Sims to Dunn 14 February 1918. For more on problems with vessels at Ponta Delgada, see: Dunn to Sims, 15 February 1918.

Footnote 2: The “French Chasers” were the 110-foot submarine chasers built in the United States that the French had purchased. “Drifters” were robustly-built boats original designed to deploy and retrieve drift nets. They were typically used to maintain and patrol anti-submarine nets. Those from Canada were intended to patrol the Otranto barrage. Halpern, A Naval History of World War I: 162-63.

Footnote 3: The New Governor at Ponta Delgada, Francisco Vincente Ramos.

Footnote 4: U.S.S. Hancock was an Navy transport ship. DANFS.

Footnote 5: Lt. Alger H. Dresel. Dresel commanded the destroyer Paulding, 15 October 1918 to 11 November 1918. Naval Investigation, 2: 2951.

Footnote 6: U.S.S. Margaret and U.S.S. Galatea were armed yachts. See: William S. Benson to Sims, 26 October 1917.

Footnote 7: A reference to Herbert Hoover, American philanthropist and head of the Food Administration. Hoover did not impose rationing, but did use “patriotic sentiment” to encourage conservation. Kennedy, Over Here: 117-19.

Footnote 8: Pro-German Portuguese Gen. Sidonio Paes staged a coup in Lisbon on 5 December 1917, and acted as military dictator for the remainder of the war. Although he did not withdraw Portugal from the Allies, the Wilson Administration informed him that the United States would not recognize his government until it had been validated by elections. International Encyclopedia of World War I, “Portugal”; Livermore, “The Azores in American Strategy-Diplomacy,” 205.