Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Vice Admiral William S. Sims, Commander, United States Naval Forces Operating in European Waters, to Anne Hitchcock Sims

[Extract]

London, England             

Wednesday, April 10, 1918

My darling Nani,

          One year ago today Babby1 and I arrived in London. How much has happened since! How little the situation was then understood in America. How difficult it was to make this situation understood! On April 13, 1917, I sent a cable which explained the situation and forecast its meaning.2 Events have completely justified this. However, it is understood now, and what we are up against. We are a long way from Peace without Victory! Let us hope that without too much sacrifice we may achieve a real victory and real lasting peace.

          You have doubtless read in today’s papers Mr. Lloyd George’s explanation of the great offensive, as far as it has gone, and how serious is the battle before us.3 It is an exceedingly anxious time. Doubtless the struggle will continue most of the summer – the greatest and most important battle in the history of the world. America can never cease to regret that she did not begin preparation for war in 1914; that she did not declare war when the Lusitania was sunk;4 or that she did not begin at once to make war a year ago when she declared war.

          However, these are vain regrets. We now finally know our enemy, where we stand and what we have to do – and will do it with all our might, insofar as the inefficiency of our national organization will permit...

          ————————————··————————————·

Your devoted,     

Will         

Source Note: ALS, DLC-MSS, William Sims Papers, Box 10.

Footnote 1: Cmdr. John V. Babcock, a member of Sims’ staff, in charge of convoys and related matters as part of the Operations Section.

Footnote 3: Prime Minister of the United Kingdom David Lloyd George. The “great offensive” was the 1918 Spring Offensive (also known as the Kaiserschlacht as well as the Ludendorff Offensive), a series of German attacks along the Western Front (21 March to 18 July 1918) that represented Germany’s last ditch effort to bring the war to a successful conclusion before the overwhelming manpower and matériel resources of the United States arrived in full force. Although marked by the deepest advances by either the Allies or Central Powers along this front since 1914, the Germans were unable to move supplies and reinforcements fast enough to sustain their advances. By late April, the danger of a German breakthrough had passed, and by August the Allies, bolstered by the arrival of 1-2 million American troops, were able to launch a counter-offensive that would ultimately lead to German surrender in November. Holger H. Herwig, The First World War: Germany and Austria-Hungary 1914-1918 (New York: A&C Black, 2014), 394-423.

Footnote 4: Lusitania was sunk by the German U-Boat U-20 7 May 1915.

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