Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

First Sea Lord Admiral Sir John R. Jellicoe, to Vice Admiral Sir Lewis Bayly, Commander, Southern Ireland


From First Sea Lord and

Chief of Naval Staff.

To Vice-Admiral Queenstown.

Remarks on letter dated 5th August from Vice-Admiral Queenstown to Vice-Admiral Sims, copy of which was forwarded to the First Sea Lord.1


(1)       It does not seem necessary to telegraph the departure of convoys from Ha<m>pton Roads direct to you as well as the Admiralty. The delay caused by passing the information through the Admiralty is not more than a few hours, and this slight delay saves the congestion which would occur on the telegraph lines, a congestion which already causes considerable inconvenience. Further, until exact information of the composition of the convoys is obtained, the escort arrangements cannot be worked out; with <in>sufficient information the result might considerable confusion.

 (2)      The information as to the sailing of a convoy and the time of arrival at the rendezvous is sent at the earliest possible moment. In the case of the ALMANZORA the orders were delayed en route: there was no delay in sending. If it is found necessary, special messengers will have to be employed to take the orders.2

  (3)          The sailing of mixed convoys, all of which have to be brough<t> in South—about, causes great complications and this evil is being overcome as rapidly as possible.3

 (4)      The strain upon the destroyers is fully realized, as are the facts stated in your memorandum under the heading of “Reasons”.

 (5)      The particular period covered by your memorandum was undoubtedly one of considerable strain, but it is a fact that none of the sloops were withdrawn. This period was foreseen and arrangements for commencing an outward convoy – using sloops for escort – were purposely held back pending the establishment of regular East and West Coast convoys. The correct loading of ships resulting in regular East and West Coast convoys is no<w> organized and the last of the mixed convoys from America should reach the United Kingdom in about a fortnight.

 (6)      The future situation is likely to be as follows:- Queenstown will be required to provide one escort per week for Atlantic convoy and one Dakar convoy about every twelve days. A table will be sent to you as soon as possible giving for three months in advance approximate – of course, very approximate – dates on which convoys which concern you will arrive at rendezvous.

 (7)      I think you are mistaken as regards the number of ships going East daily which are not in convoy.4 Our information makes the number must less than yours, but I am making arrangements to obtain accurate information on this point in the future.

 (8)      The period covered by your memorandum so far as outward-bound traffic was concerned was one in which a great many ships which had been held up at Liverpool for some time were sent out. Ordinarily speaking there is not very much outward traffic in your vicinity.

 (9)      I understand from Admiral Sims that he is leaving the whole question of refitting U.S.Destroyers in your hands.

8th August, 1917.

Source Note: Cy, DLC-MSS, William Sims Papers, Box 22. There is a notation in the upper left-hand corner: “Personal File/Admiral Sims.” Also with this copy is a letter entitled “DIRECT INFORMATION OF DEPARTURE OF CONVOYS” that Sims’ staff created and includes much of the information found in Jellicoe’s letter to Bayly. On this same date, Sims wrote Bayly and addressed some of the points found here. Sims’ letter, however, is friendly in tone and lacks any hint of reproach.

Footnote 1: Bayly’s letter has not been found; but for more on its discussion, see: Sims to Bayly, 8 August 1917.

Footnote 2: Almanzora was an armed merchant cruiser that left Sydney, Nova Scotia, on 28 July with a convoy of eleven transports. According to the cruiser’s log, it was met and challenged on 6 August by the “US Flotilla.” That flotilla, which had been dispatched to a “special rendezvous” only the day before, consisted of the destroyers Cummings, Conyngham, Allen, Davis, Patterson, Tucker, Warrington, and Winslow. “Log Book of HMS ALMANZORA – Spetmber 1915 to November 1918,”, accessed on 25 July 2017; War Diary of U.S.S. Cummings, entries for 5 and 6 August, DNA, RG 45, Entry 527. Presumably, it was the number of destroyers required and the short notice to which Bayly objected.

Footnote 3: Mixed convoys were convoys that included supply ships and troop transports.

Footnote 4: This assertion was taken from the material Sims provided to Jellicoe.

Related Content