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 Captain Joel R. Poinsett Pringle, Chief of Staff, Destroyer Flotillas

April 19th. 1918.  

My dear Pringle,

          As you doubtless know there is still considerable agitation in the United States on the subject of the Queenstown command. There has recently appeared in the ARMY & NAVY REGISTER  and the NEW YORK TRIBUEN [i.e., TRIBUNE] a very insidious and damaging criticism of me and the Navy Department in this respect.1

          We have also received word through a certain number of personal letters that it is rumoured on the other side that Eberle is to be detached from the Naval Academy and sent over here to command the destroyers.2 In order to counteract this I have referred to the matter rather pointedly in a recent letter to Admiral Benson.3 I enclose you a copy of the letter. This being on the last paragraph on page 5. I have no copy of the article that was published in the ARMY & NAVY REGISTER, but the one that I have quoted from the TRIBUNE is pretty much the same.4

          I have written to the Editors of both the REGISTER and the TRIBUNE inviting their attention to the nature of their criticisms and how badly mistaken they are. I enclose copies of both these letters and also copy of a letter to Pratt which refers particularly to this subject.5

          If you have the patience to read all these, they will let you know all I know about the subject and also what I am doing about it. Please return all of the correspondence.

          You may, in your discretion communicate as much of this subject to Admiral Bayly as you think proper.6 I may also say that by the last mail an article went home, to be published in the Sunday edition of the SUN, and many other Sunday papers, which was intended to counteract the criticisms in the REGISTER and the TRIBUNE.7 This article is supposed to have been written by a European correspondent, but the man who does not recognize that it is inspired would be very dull.

          I am sorry the circumstances are such that I have not been able to get up to Queenstown recently. I was to have been in Paris on the 16th, but it is now tentatively put off until the 25th. I may be able to come up later, but until the result of the battle on the western front is further developed, I hardly think that I would be justified in leaving the headquarters.

Very sincerely yours,        

Source Note: Cy, DLC-MSS, William S. Sims Papers, Box 47. Addressed below close: “Capt. J.R.P. Pringle. U.S.N.,/U.S.S. MELVILLE,/QUEENSTOWN, IRELAND.” Note at top of page: “Admiral Sims’ personal file.” Identifying number at top of page in columnar fashion: “1/3/J/D.”

Footnote 1: On the article in the Army and Navy Register, see: Sims to John E. Jenks, 8 April 1918.

Footnote 2: Capt. Edward W. Eberle was Superintendent of the Naval Academy and remained at that post for the duration of the war.

Footnote 4: As seen later in this letter, Sims asked that the enclosures be returned to him and they are no longer with this copy.

Footnote 5: The letter to the editor of the New-York Tribune, Ogden Mills Reid, has not been found. For the letter to the editor of the Army and Navy Register, see: Sims to John E. Jenks, 8 April 1918. For the letter to Capt. William V. Pratt, see: Sims to Pratt, 16 April 1918.

Footnote 6: 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 7: Presumably, the Baltimore Sun. Sunday would have been 21 April.