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 Office of the Chief of Naval Operations

 

                          Cablegram Sent         4th Aug. 1917.

To             Opnav Washington. Serial No. 104

Via            Q.21

          Number one-hundred and ninety-four. Referring that part your telegram twentysecond July1 respecting steps taken by Captain Jackson2 (stop) Actual situation in France as follows3 (stop) Aviation unit of one hundred men for pilots and observers was sent to France in May (stop) Arrangements were made upon arrival with the French Government to train these men as rapidly as possible4 (stop) The policy of keeping these men as American units was immediately recognized as most desirable. This required the establishment of American posts (stop) The probable number of qualified fliers represented three American posts(stop) The construction of these posts owing to lack of material and labor in France is very slow and tedious (stop) In order that the services of these pilots could be utilised without any long delay it was necessary to order that the construction of these posts be undertaken at once (stop) It is hoped that three posts will be ready in September the time at which the hundred men sent over will all be qualified for service (stop) The Department’s intention to co-operate in aviation in France to this extent was indicated in May when these hundred men were sent over (stop) The Department has not been committed to any further program than that indicated above, namely the utilization of the above named fliers at the three American stations and the establishment of a training school for future fliers for finishing instruction in firing and operating under war conditions in order to relieve the crowded conditions at the French School where the first hundred men are being trained (stop) The order for machines was necessary to cover the cost of the machines actually being used daily for training and the furnishing of equipment with which to operate in September (stop)The organization showing the two hundred men of various ratings needed for each post has been furnished the Department and that report explains the necessity of eight hundred additional men of various ratings to be furnished to equip the posts selected5 (stop) These posts are at the entrance of the Loire, entrance of the Gironde6 for the protection of the American transports, and at Dunkerque to attack submarines leaving their base to operate at these points (stop) Above information supplied by Captain Jackson.7

SIMS.

Source Note: Cy, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517B.

Footnote 1: This document has not been found.

Footnote 2: Capt. Richard H. Jackson, American Naval Representative to the Ministry of Marine.

Footnote 3: For more on the controversy surrounding Jackson's actions, see: Sayles to Babcock, 4 August 1917.

Footnote 5: Four days later, Sims forwarded to Jackson a cable from Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels saying that the Navy Department had approved all of Jackson’s requests for material and personnel. Sims to Jackson, 8 August 1917, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517B.

Footnote 6: The Loire and Gironde are two major rivers in France.

Footnote 7: Although Sims supported Jackson in this letter, their relationship soon became strained, to the point that Sims attempted to have him recalled from his post. Still, Crisis at Sea: 50-53.

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