Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Rear Admiral Joseph K. Strauss, Commander, Mine Force, Atlantic Fleet to Vice Admiral William S. Sims, Commander, United States Naval Forces Operating in European Waters

 

U. S. Forces Operating in European

Waters.       

MINE FORCE

U. S. ATLANTIC FLEET

SECRET             Base 18,1 April 23, 1918.

File No.

My dear Admiral,

          I called on the Commander-in-Chief at Rosyth2 on Friday as you directed and had a most pleasant and agreeable interview with him. He agreed with me that the best way to avoid lost motion was to telegraph direct from this office to his Flag Ship,3 giving him as many hours notice in advance as possible, twenty four if convenient, when the ships would be ready to proceed to the mine field. It is his intention not only to convoy the mine layers with destroyers but to support them in force, probably with one of the convoy squadrons now sent regularly to the Norway coast. He gives it as his intention to make up the Norway convoy to suit the movements of the mine layers.

          We discussed together with Vice-Admiral Brock, Chief of Staff,4 the new lay-out of the eastern part of themined area, and I judge from the manner of both of them that the scheme as finally laid down, which you discussed with the counsel at the Admiralty, will meet with no opposition from the Commander-in-Chief.

          I have written you under separate cover an official communication concerning the underloading of the LAKE ONTARIO.5 Her master states that he could have taken double the weight of freight. I[t] would be too bad if this practice were to continue, in view of the letter from Operations and the possibility that such mismanagement would result in removing the management of freighting our mines across altogether from the Navy Department.

          Since writing the above I have just received a letter from Belknap6 in advance of his report of his most recent experiments off Cape Ann. It is most encouraging. In view of Belknap’s reserve about the mine when I left the United States, this sentence at the opening of his letter will probably be of interest to you:-

          “The opinion of everyone who had to do with the mine is that the success of the mine is no longer in doubt.”

          I have felt fairly confident about its success, but not quite enthusiastic so that now I am extremely cheerful about the whole project and feel that it is the key to the situation which we are trying to solve.

          You have no doubt received copies of the BALTIMORE’S report; she did splendidly. She is now making ready for her third laying of 180 mines, and from a letter received by Murfin from the Chief of Staff of Rear Admiral “M” they think Marshall is doing splendidly.7 I have no doubt that our whole crowd will do as well, and I am counting on completing the whole barrage so far as we are concerned, by the first of September sure. I told Admiral Beatty that we were going to make a “band playing” job of it.8

Very sincerely     

/s/  J Strauss     

Source Note: TL, DLC-MSS, William Sims Papers, Container 23. Identification numbers “1/2/A/J” appear in the upper right corner in a ladder, and identifiers “JS-EN” appear alongside the date. Addressed below close: “Vice-Admiral Wm. S. Sims, U. S. N./U. S. Naval Headquarters,/30 Grosvenor Gardens,/London, S. W. 1/”.

Footnote 1: Inverness, Scotland.

Footnote 2: Adm. Sir David Beatty, R.N., Commander-in-Chief, British Grand Fleet.

Footnote 3: H.M.S. Queen Elizabeth.

Footnote 4: RAdm. Sir Osmond de Brock, R.N., Chief of Staff, Home Fleet.

Footnote 5: A cargo ship used as a mine carrier.

Footnote 6: Capt. Reginald R. Belknap, Commander, Mine Squadron One. Belknap’s letter to Strauss has not been found.

Footnote 7: Cmdr. Orin G. Murfin, whose assignment at this time is unknown, but related to supplies and personnel for the North Sea Mine Barrage. The editor has been unable to determine the identity of RAdm. “M”. Cmdr. Albert W. Marshall, commanding officer, BALTIMORE.

Footnote 8: For Sims’ detailed response to this letter, see: Sims to Strauss, 29 April 1918.