Vice Admiral William S. Sims, Commander, United States Naval Forces Operating in European Waters, to Vice Admiral Sir Lewis Bayly, Commander, Southern Ireland
U. S. NAVAL HEADQUARTERS,
30, Grosvenor Gardens,
London, S. W.
August 14th, 1917.
My dear Admiral,
I beg to acknowledge receipt of your two letters of the 10th. and 11th.1 I am glad to know that you agree to the suggestion of painting our destroyers in the Razzle Dazzle method suggested by the Admiralty.2
I have just made arrangements with the proper authority to send you at least half a dozen profiles of destroyers painted in different ways, but of course all on the same principle of deceiving the enemy as to what he sees.3
I understand from conversation with the convoy people in the Admiralty that they now believe they can convoy outgoing vessels without any appreciable loss of time. I understand that for the last month the amount of tonnage coming into the United Kingdom was 600,000 more than the average during the last few months. These figures may not be quite correct but the point is that the convoy method, notwithstanding the delays in assembling vessels, and so forth, is working successfully.
I have been informed from Washington, that they will begin presently to send one convoy of troopships every eight days. Whether this will be adhered to for any length of time I do not know. I have my doubts. When the conference of the shipping people comes off here in London a final decision will be reached. That decision will be based upon the number of troops that the United States can send to France and supply after they are there.
To put the extreme case, it is apparent, without accurate calculation, that if America should send a million troops to France within the next year she could do so only at the expense of diverting shipping which is now wholly necessary to supply the Allies and maintain their armies at the Front.
The point is that a decision must be reached as to the number of troops it would be useful for America to send.
Very confidentially, the Commander-in-Chief of the North Atlantic Fleet4 is coming over to look into the whole situation. One of his staff officers5 is already here doing the spade work. After he arrives, it is probable that representatives from France and Italy will come to London for a more general conference.6
The Commander-in-Chief may come in his Flagship or by an American liner. A final decision has not yet been made. I am very glad indeed that he is coming as his opinion will clear up the whole situation so far as we are concerned.
Very sincerely yours,
Source Note: TLS, DLC-MSS, William Sims Papers, Box 23. Notation at the top left-hand corner of first page: “Personal File./Admiral Sims” and in the upper right-hand corner in columnar style: “13J.” Addressed below close: “Vice Admiral Sir Lewis Bayly, U.S.S./Admiralty House,/Queenstown.”
Footnote 1: See: Bayly to Sims, 10 August 1917. Bayly's letter of 11 August has not been found.
Footnote 2: For examples of razzle-dazzle style painting on U.S.S. destroyers, see the illustrations page for August 1917.
Footnote 3: While these may not have been the profiles that Sims provided, a set prepared by the U.S. Navy in 1917 is available at https://www.history.navy.mil/content/dam/nhhc/browse-by-topic/War%20and%20Conflict/world-war-i/panels_16-21.pdf, accessed 2 August 1917.
Footnote 4: Adm. Henry T. Mayo.
Footnote 5: Cmdr. William S. Pye.
Footnote 6: This conference did indeed take place in London on 4 and 5 September.