Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Information Bulletin #189, Prepared by Intelligence Section Staff of Vice Admiral William S. Sims, Commander, United States Naval Forces in European Waters

U.S. Naval Forces, European Waters,

LONDON, 24 August, 1918.

          INFORMATION BULLETIN NO. 189.

I.   U.S.S. DOWNES while on convoy duty in the Irish Sea August 15th, rescued the crew of the disabled [German] blimpf S.S. Z-51. The engine, envelope, car and instruments were successfully taken aboard the destroyer in about five hours time.

     “During salvage operations” says the commanding officer’s1 report the “pilot was seasick and unable to assist with his advice.”

2.   George Perschke, Seaman, of the U.S.S. OLYMPIA’s landing party, on the Murmansk coast, about August 1st, was slightly wounded during the operations of the allied expeditionary force in that region.2

3.   The following, illustrative of the enemy attitude towards prisoners made by the Allies, is taken from a German hand-bill recently captured on the French front.

     “If you have the misfortune to be taken prisoner, you are nothing but an infamous scoundrel if you give the least information as to the location of your unit. To do that is the same as if you were to say to a murderer, Here is my father, shoot him !

     Do you want to be a soldier in every sense of the word? Then refuse absolutely to answer the enemy when he questions you. If you lack courage and the necessary audacity, then act as if dull-witted, or simply say that you left hospital, returned from leave, or came back from a trip shortly before your capture, and consequently know nothing. Do not seek to deceive the enemy by leading him astray by false statements. That trick almost never succeeds. By making contradictory statements during the examination you will betray yourself too easily. Also, avoid speaking of the situation with your fellow prisoners. You may be sure of being watched ! If a comrade tries to engage you in conversation, tell him to hold his tongue. If the enemy questions you on the situation in the interior, simply say, “We are taking care of that !”, not one word more!

     One talkative man can cause more harm than the whole army can avert.”

From a document concerning deserters.

     “Every man going over to the enemy will be punished with death on his return to Germany.

     All his property within the country will be seized.

     He will lose his nationality; his next of kin will not have the right to receive an allowance.

     If a man is suspected of having betrayed his country, if only for having been admitted into a so-called privileged camp, action will be taken against him for treason to his country.

     It is useless to reckon on escaping the penalty by remission or by lapse of time.

     On the conclusion of peace, these soldiers will be brought before a court-martial as traitors to the country. The severest punishment will be meted out to these men without honor and patriotism.”

From another enemy document.

     “The relief and reinforcement of the weakened and tired divisions are of course desirable, but very often they cannot take place. In any case, such assistance does not dispense with the need for doing everything possible to maintain the fighting value of the unit and to fight to the utmost with the reduced effective strength. It is a duty of the commanders to request all that is desirable in favour of their troops, but is a still greater duty to obtain the best results with the effectives available, however difficult the task may be.”

     As further evidence of the weakening of enemy strength in France, an order of Ludendorff3 captured lately contained the significant phrase,-- “Assuming the superiority in number of the enemy,” etc.

Force Commander’s Office,    

Intelligence Section.

Source Note: D, DLC-MSS, William S. Sims Papers, Box 24.

Footnote 1: Cmdr. Alexander Sharpe, Jr.

Footnote 3: German Quartermaster General Erich F. W. Ludendorff. Along with Gen. Paul von Hindenburg, Ludendorff ran the German war effort.

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