Skip to main content

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 23rd.1918.

My dear Pringle,

          Referring to your letter of April 19th.1 I sincerely hope you will not have the difficulty you anticipated on account of the disordered condition of Ireland. I think that the agitation is probably now at its worst and that it is likely to abate. As you know public opinion in America is strongly against resistance to conscription in Ireland and I think that as time goes on the effect of this opinion is going to be felt. There may be a reaction when the Government first decides to put conscription in force but it cannot continue very long and after the issue has been decided I expect things will settle down to approximately their former condition.

          However, if this is not the case we will have to make arrangements to get more people sent over and do the work.the best way we can ourselves even though the structures put up are much more temporary than we anticipated.

          I sincerely hope that Beehler’s listening device is going to turn out to be the real thing.2 I am not sceptical [i.e., skeptical] in the least about these devices but there have been so many nearly complete disappointments in this respect that I find myself continually bracing myself against an additional one.

          All hands express themselves as delighted with the result of their visit to Queenstown. Please advise me in a letter marked “Private” what you would recommend in the case of Berry.3 Do you think we should continue to employ him in the force?

          I have just seen General Pershing and he has written and requested me to designate an officer to be attached directly to his staff and to work with that staff.4 The man required is one who has good judgment, a thorough knowledge of convoy operations, and so forth and so forth, so that the soldiers will have someone to advise them on nautical matters and thus save them from much useless correspondence with us on this subject. Who would you recommend for this purpose? I should say that it would be an exceedingly interesting duty for any officer. Do you not think that Old Bill5 would be about the man for the job.

          I am off for Paris tomorrow but expect to be back by about the 29th.6

          Very sincerely yours,        

Capt.J.R.Poinsett Pringle.



P.S. Since writing the above <my letter of yesterday> two more correspondents have turned up, one, Mr.Otto P.Higgins of the KANSAS CITY STAR and the other Mr.Adam Breede of the UNION SYNDICATE. The former is endorsed by the Secretary of the Navy and the latter by the famous Mr.Creele.7 They will probably be along about the same time that Mr.Macfarlane arrives.8 They do not seem to me to be in his class, but doubtless they will be able to write something that will be appreciated in the wild and woolly West. Put them on the liveliest destroyer you know and send them out into the worst weather you can find and let them experience someof the human interest of the Flotilla. 

Source Note: TL, DLC-MSS, William S. Sims Papers, Container 79.

Footnote 2: Lt. Weyman P. Beehler. For further discussion of his listening device, see: Pringle to Sims, 27 April 1918.

Footnote 3: Cmdr. Robert L. Berry, Commander, Manley. On 19 March Berry’s ship collided with a British vessel, causing a depth charge to explode and set the deck on fire. Berry was later found to be negligent by a court-martial, but granted clemency. Pringle, however, emphatically advised against employing Berry again in Ireland or European waters. See: Pringle to Sims, 29 April 1918. For more on Berry’s court-martial see: Sims to William S. Benson, 30 April 1918.

Footnote 4: See: John J. Pershing to Sims, 23 April 1918. Pershing sent this letter at Sims’ urging. See: Sims to Pershing, 13 April 1918.

Footnote 5: Lt. Cmdr. William W. Smith, Commander, Downs. The position was offered to Cmdr. David C. Hanrahan, Commander of the Q ship Santee, and, before that, Cushing. Hanrahan emphatically declined, saying he wanted to remain with the destroyer force. See: Pringle to Sims, 27 April 1918. Nevertheless, Hanrahan took command of the Northern Bombing Squadron in early May. Rossano and Wildenberg, Striking the Hornet’s Nest: 118.

Footnote 6: Sims was departing to attend the Allied Naval Conference. For more on this conference, see: Sims to Benson, 30 April 1918.

Footnote 7: George Creel, head of the Committee on Public Information, the United States wartime propaganda outlet.

Footnote 8: Peter Clarke MacFarlane, Saturday Evening Post.