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 Rear Admiral Joseph Strauss, Commander, Mine Force, Atlantic Fleet

April 29th, 1918.

My dear Strauss,

          Many thanks for your letter of the 23rd/ which I found here upon my return from Paris today.1

          I felt quite sure you would have no difficulty in making an arrangement for direct communication with the Commander-in-Chief2 in all that pertains to handling our mine fource. He is a practical man and always willing to play the game.

          I am sure you will find when we get further along with the work that you can count upon Admiral Beatty for every practical assistance both in getting mines down and in protecting the mine layers. This will will undoubtedly not be accomplished while the Germans sit with folded hands. I have no doubt they will put up a more or less lively opposition.

          As for the question of the loading of our vessels, I will have that looked into at once, and see if it cannot be corrected.

          It certainly is good news that the experiments of the mines have been satisfactory [i.e., satisfactory]. As you say, Belknap3 is not of the enthusiastic kind, and temperamentally has difficulty in approving things. So when he states that the success of the mine is no longer in doubt, we may assume that they are at least good instruments.

          I do not take the present plans as to this barrage as being absolutely final. I believe that as the thing develops and we learn more about the mines that the barrage will take form accordingly. I feel quite sure that we will be able eventually to carrry the surface clean over to the coast of Scotland, and if I am not very much mistaken, there will not be muchofa passage left on the other side that will be at all safe for anything to go through.4

          I have been told by the Admiralty of the excellent work done by the BALTIMORE.5 I am now informed that the ROANOAK will be leaving within a day or so and will assist the BALTIMORE.6 Five or six other vessels will be leaving within a short time.

          Altogether I am encourage over the whole business. There have been times when I have had the opposite feeling.

          More strength to your good right arm! May you have a complete success in all of this business.

Very sincerely yours,

S/ W. S. Sims      

Source Note: TLS, DLC-MSS, William Sims Papers, Box 47. Below the close, the letter is addressed, “Rear Admiral J. Strauss, U.S.N./Mine Force,/U.S.Atlantic Fleet,/Base 18 [Inverness, Scotland].”

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

Footnote 3: Capt. Reginald R. Belknap, Commander, Mine Squadron One.

Footnote 4: The projected mine barrage was to extend from Scotland to Norway. See: Map of the North Sea Mine Barrage in April 1918.

Footnote 5: U.S.S. BALTIMORE, a converted cruiser, was serving as a mine layer assisting the British in laying part of the North Sea mine barrage. DANFS.

Footnote 6: U.S.S. Roanoke was another U.S. Navy mine layer. She arrived at the mine force’s base at Invergordon, Scotland, on 18 May 1918. Ibid.