Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Commander, Joel R. Poinsett Pringle, Chief of Staff, Destroyer Flotillas, to Commander Henry B. Price, Commander, Melville

8 August 1917.     

My dear Price:-

          I intended writing you some days ago along the usual lines but suddenly found that it was necessary for me to go to London on some business for Admiral Bayly1 and I only returned yesterday.

          I found Admiral Sims2 and his staff just moved into a house which they have leased for use as an office and everything generally confused and mixed up, materially speaking, but everybody cheerful and hard at work.3 Twining and Ancrum were there, and also Berrien.4 Berrien will be sent down here to take over command of the NICHOLSON, relieving Long5 who will be on duty with the Admiral in London. I had quite a conversation with Berrien who gave me some interesting items of news from home and when he gets down to Berehaven you should have him come over and chat with you. Ask him particularly to tell you the story about poor Woody Phelps.6 It is really a tragedy when you know Phelps and I am sure that you will be as sorry to hear about it as I was.

          Admiral Sims is very anxious that you should have complete reports of the amount of work which you do on the destroyers and I therefore beg you to send me as soon as possible after the end of each month a monthly report of the job orders done by the DIXIE, both on our own ships and on the English ships, simply a list of job orders accomplished for each ship. Please send me six copies of the report as it is proposed to send one to each material Bureau, one fo[r] the Commander-in-Chief,7 one to London and the other to be retained here for files.

          The matter of refit foroour destroyers has been taken in hand and arrangements concluded for a ten day refit at Cammellaird and Companys every four months. The first two destroyers, PORTER and DRAYTON are now there; the PAULDING is under refit here. The ships are to go to Cammellairds three at a time, the next three to go being the CONYNGHAM, WADSWORTH and McDOUGAL. I will send you a list of the proposed dates for refitting in order that you may know what is going on and also because I might assist you sometime in estimating the necessity of taking up jobs on board ship.

          I was very much obliged to you for your very valuable suggestions with regard to the modifications in the new destroyers designs and I enclose you herewith a copy of my letter to Admiral Sims on the subject which is selfexplanatory.8 

          Mr. Daniels showed me your letter of August 4th regarding the advisability of constructing a tennis court and also of allotting some part of the entertainment fund for your use at Berehaven.9 Please let me know whether you have any entertainment fund available on board the DIXIE and if so, how much and how much money you estimate would be necessary to carry out your desires in the matter of a tennis court. If you can arrange the matter, I see no reason why we can not supply the necessary money and if you desire me to do so, I will endeavor to get some cement and ship it to you in Berehaven.

          In connection with all this however, I am beginning to think that it may be a good move later on to request Admiral Bayly to bring the DIXIE to Queenstown. There are several reasons for this and I am not prepared at present to make such a request because I am not sure that we can accommodate both the MELVILLE and DIXIE; the thirty-five destroyers now present and other additions to the Force that may arrive from time to time at Queenstown. I think however, that I will discuss the matter with Admiral Bayly before long and I will then let you hear more about it. In the mean time, there is no reason why we should not proceed with out endeavors to increase the contentment of all hands at Berehaven by every means in our power.

          Admiral Sims has been constantly endeavoring to have a reserve of officers and men sent over for duty and I hope that his efforts may bear fruit before long.10 I have informed him that we are now spread out as far as we can reach and that if we get broken links in the chain we have no metal from which to forge new ones.

          Please drop me a line when you find time and let me know if there is anything we can do to help you out.

          As soon as I hear from you on the subject of the tennis courts, I will do whatever may be possible and mean time, believe me,

Very sincerely yours,

J.R.P. PRINGLE

Source Note: LTS, DNA, RG 45, Entry 520, Box 678.

Footnote 1: VAdm. Sir Lewis Bayly, Commander, Southern Ireland.

Footnote 2: VAdm. William S. Sims, Commander, United States Naval Forces Operating in Europe.

Footnote 3: Sims wrote to his wife on 9 August that he had established “really a small navy department” at his new quarters: a “house having about 14 rooms of which I have nine and the naval attaché the remainder.” His new office was located at 30 Grosvenor Gardens in London. See: Sims to Anne Hitchcock Sims, 9 August 1917.

Footnote 4: Capt. Nathan C. Twining, Sims’ chief of staff, Lt. William Ancrum, one of Sims' aides, and Lt. Cmdr. Frank D. Berrien, Commander, Nicholson.

Footnote 5: Lt. Cmdr. Byron A. Long, who was in charge of the Convoys Section of Sims' staff in London.

Footnote 6: Cmdr. William W. Phelps, Commander, Great Northern.

Footnote 7: Adm. Henry T. Mayo, Commander-in-Chief, Atlantic Fleet.

Footnote 8: The letter mentioned here is no longer attached.

Footnote 9: Lt. Cmdr. Joseph F. Daniels. Sims' letter to Daniels has not been found.

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