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Vice Admiral William S. Sims, Commander, United States Naval Forces Operating in European Waters to Admiral William S. Benson, Chief of Naval Operations


CABLEGRAM SENT 7th Aug, 1917.

To   Opnav, Washington                               Serial No. 212

Via       Q.21

Sent Aug 7    6:30 P.M.                                 Initials J.V.B.1  File No.


     Number two hundred and twelve (stop) After redistribution of officers, taking practically all but heads of departments from MELVILLE and DIXIE, five officers have been assigned each destroyer (stop) No reserve remain against casualties from sickness or otherwise (stop). A reserve of experienced officers and men, as previously requested, is urgently needed.2



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

Footnote 1: Sims' aide, Cmdr. John V. Babcock.

Footnote 2: Throughout the early months of the war Sims repeatedly complained to Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels about the shortage of experienced officers, as well as the terrible strain duty in submarine-infested waters created, the danger to an entire ship of even a single mishap, and the importance of relieving inadequate officers without hesitation. The Navy Department had other priorities besides Sims’ command, and the rapid expansion of the service in the summer of 1917 meant that manning the fleet with large numbers of reservists was unavoidable. See: Daniels to Sims, 24 June 1917 and Sims to Daniels, 19 June 1917. Sims remained dissatisfied with the numbers and experience of the officers under him until the end of the war. See: Sims to Daniels, 30 May 1917; Sims to Daniels, 1 June 1917; Still, Crisis at Sea: 192-196.

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