Vice Admiral William S. Sims, Commander, United States Naval Forces Operating in European Waters, to Lieutenant Commander Charles R. Train, United States Naval Attaché at Rome
U. S. NAVAL HEADQUARTERS,
30, Grosvenor Gardens,
August 13th, 1917.
My dear Train,
Your letter of August 1st,1 reached me a few days ago and I am very glad indeed to have the report on the situation in the adriatic.
This is the more interesting because in the latter part of July there was a Naval Conference in Paris of the Italians, French, British and Americans and this question was pretty thoroughly discussed.
You probably know by this time that the decision reached was to place the control of the anti-submarine forces in the whole Mediterranean in the hands of one officer-a British Admiral.2 This will probably place a new light on the whole situation and particularly on the question of the Otranto barrage.
I quite agree with your estimate of the situation in so far as concerns the maintenance of this barrage. Such a barrage is of no particular use unless it is maintained, and I have an idea that a very strong effort will be made in this direction.
I can well imagine that you are chafing under your present situation and would like to get into the game in the destroyer forces up here. I know that the Ambassador3 objected to your being withdrawn; but when he passed through here a week or so ago he told me that he had withdrawn his objections. If, therefore, you can make arrangements to be transferred to our forces I should be very glad. I have made application to the Department for all of the old Destroyer Captains who had experience under me in the Flotilla; I have pointed out repeatedly the necessity of our utilizing the nautical and destroyer experience of these men, but without any preciable result. I have also applied to have a certain number of destroyer captains, destroyer officers, and certain ratings sent over here to stand by to take the place of the casualties we may expect due to sickness and so forth, especially when the bad weather comes on in the fall. They promised to send these people but they have not done so.
If you could get into the game I should be very glad indeed to have you.
Berrien was sent over as a member of the staff, but I transferred him to the NICHOLSON, Long’s boat,4 as I had transferred Long here to the staff where he was already doing very important work.
I shall be glad to hear from you at any time that you have anything interesting about the situation down there.
I assume you know that Rear Admiral Wilson5 is now on the way to the Base at Gibraltar with three scout cruisers and about eight gun boats, including the SACRAMENTO, MARRIETTA and most of that class. I believe he is also to have the YANKTON. Later he will probably have six husky revenue cutters.6 This force will be employed principally in escorting convoys out clear of the submarine zone.
Very sincerely yours,
S/ W S SIMS
Source Note: TLS, DLC-MSS, William Sims Papers. A filing note in the upper-left corner designates this as part of “ADMIRAL SIMS’ PERSONAL FILE.” Addressed below close: “Lieut-Commander Chas. B. Train, U.S.N./Naval Attache,/American Embassy,/Rome, Italy.
Footnote 1: The specific letter referred to here has not been found, but Train regularly reported intelligence from the Adriatic to Sims.
Footnote 2: VAdm. Sir Rosslyn Wemyss, Commander, East Indies and Egypt Station. See: Sims to Benson, 30 July 1917.
Footnote 3: United States Ambassador to Italy Thomas Nelson Page.
Footnote 4: Cmdr. Frank D. Berrien and Cmdr. Byron A. Long. Long became the head of the Convoys Section on Sims' staff.
Footnote 5: RAdm. Henry B. Wilson, Commander, United States Patrol Squadron Based at Gibraltar.
Footnote 6: For a complete list, see: List of United States Navy Ships to be Based at Gibraltar, 8 August 1917.