Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Rear Admiral Henry B. Wilson, Commander, United States Naval Forces in France, to Vice Admiral William S. Sims, Commander, United States Naval Forces Operating in European Waters

[Extract]

25 August 1918.

From:     Commander U.S.Naval Forces in France.

To:       Force Commander.

Subject:    Report of Operations – 17 August to 24 August, 1918.

     1. (a) Vessels available:

Destroyers –

LITTLE, CONNER, SIGOURNEY, CUSHING, NICHOLSON, TUCKER, WADSWORTH, ERICSSON, WARRINGTON, WINSLOW, FANNING, BURROWS, MONAGHAN, FLUSSER, PRESTON, SMITH, REID, ROE, McDOUGAL, O’BRIEN, DRAYTON, LAMSON, WAINWRIGHT.

Sea-going Yachts –

NOMA, APHRODITE, CORSAIR, MAY, NOKOMIS.

Coastal Convoy Escort –

WANDERER, SULTANA, EMELINE, TRUXTON, WHIPPLE, HARVARD, VEDETTE, UTOWANA, WORDEN, REMLIK, CHRISTABEL, RAMBLER, STEWART, MACDONOUGH, CORONA.

Tugs –

CRICCIETH, SMEATON, BARNEGAT, GYPSUM QUEEN.

Squadron Four (Mine Sweeping) –

PIQUA, McNEAL, ANDERTON, CAHILL, COURTNEY, DOUGLAS, JAMES, LEWES, HUBBARD, HINTON.

Wrecking Vessel –

          FAVORITE.

Station Ships –

PROMETHEUS, BRIDGEPORT, PANTHER.

Floating Barracks –

CAROLA IV.

          (b)  Overhaul – LIVERPOOL.

CUMMINGS, BENHAM, JARVIS, PORTER.

          (c) Under repairs -

          CONCORD.

          (d) Being equipped with Walzer apparatus1

          ISABEL.

          Probable dates for completion of repairs: CUMMINGS, 27 August; PORTER, 17 September; BENHAM, 1 September; JARVIS, 10 September. CONCORD was damaged while towing WEST BRIDGE and has about one week’s repairs. PANTHER will arrive Pauillac 25 August and will be stationed for duty with vessels in Rochefort District. . . .

     The FLUSSER and PRESTON returned from escort of U.S.S. BUFFALO 24 August. Destroyers which escorted O.R. 69 to the Westward, escort[ed] Group 55 to Brest. Escort which took O.R. 72 to the westward, intercepted H.N. 79 and escorted it to Brest. Word having been received from the SMITH on 19 August that additional gear was required for towing the WEST BRIDGE, the TRUXTON sailed the afternoon of 19 August and joined morning of 20 August and reinforced escort to Brest. The destroyers which escorted O.R. 74 westward had orders to intercept Group 56 and escort it to Brest. The LITTLE and DRAYTON sailed 21 August to join same group. On account of submarine activity in the vicinity of the route of H.B. 9, it was decided to divert this convoy. H.B.9 was due to arrive at destroyer rendezvous at six a.m. Greenwich Meridian Time 23 August. The McDOUGAL sailed from Brest 21 August with orders to intercept convoy afternoon of 22 August, and was directed to divert this convoy to the southward. The BURROWS and LAMSON sailed 22 August with orders to intercept the convoy twenty-four hours to the westward of the destroyer rendezvous to insure the diverting of the convoy, and to escort it until joined by the regular escort, then to continue until dark 24 August. This plan was successfully carried out. The WAINWRIGHT and FANNING sailed from Brest P.M. 21 August, joined O.V. 28 the morning after it sailed from Verdon, reinforced the escort, and together with the rest of the escort joined H.B.9 the morning of 24 August and are now escorting it to Verdon. The escort which took O.R. 75 to the westward have orders to intercept Group 57 and escort it to Brest. The SMITH and REID will escort O.R.76 westward afternoon of 25 August, will meet H.N. 80 and when reinforced by additional destroyers will escort it to Brest.

     3.   MISCELLANEOUS.

          On 22 August the U.S.S. WEST BRIDGE arrived in Brest in tow of the U.S.S. CONCORD, and BARNEGAT, and the British tugs EPIC and WOONDA, escorted by U.S.S. SMITH, TRUXTON and the French gunboats YSER and AISNE.2 The French tug COURAGEUSE had assisted in the tow. The WEST BRIDGE had been taken in tow by the EPIC and WOONDA at six p.m. August 17th, the AISNE at that time standing by. Difficulty was experienced by the other vessels in locating the wreck for the reason that the position given by the EPIC and AISNE was forty-seven miles northwest of the actual position. Very creditable work was done by the SMITH in making contact and bringing the remaining vessels to the WEST BRIDGE, the contact being made at one p.m. 18 August by following an oil slick for twenty-seven miles. A party was placed on board from the SMITH and the towing commenced at four p.m. 18 August. This vessel was towed a distance of four hundred miles and arrived with about one percent of her original buoyancy, her condition being as follows: No. 1 hold, 17’ of water; holds Nos. 2 and 3, completely flooded; fireroom and engineroom completely flooded; hold No. 4, 8’ of water; hold No. 5, 2’ of water, the remaining buoyancy in No. 1 hold being all that prevented her loss. She was struck by two torpedoes, one of which is believed to have exploded in her engineroom and the other to have destroyed the bulkhead between holds two and three. Thus considering the extent of her damage and the distance towed, her salvage is rather remarkable, and it is due largely to the fact that her cargo was of flour in sacks.

          The vessel has been beached on a mud flat and her cargo is being removed until such time as a drydock is available, this work being in charge of Lieutenant Sloane Danenhower acting as wreckmaster. Her officers and crew are on board.

          All the pipe for La Trinite Valley water project has now been delivered and the system will be completed and ready for service about September 5th.3

          The third of the 7,000-ton oil tanks being erected at Brest will be completed on September 15th. We are still awaiting authority from the French to locate additional tanks on a quarry site with a view to increasing the tankage at Brest to a total of 50,000 tons.

          On 25 August information was received from the APHRODITE that the JOSEPH CUDAHY had been torpedoed on 17 August in Lat. 46-25 N., Long. 17-51 W. and that thirteen survivors including the captain were on board the French aviso SOMME. Details are still lacking but the captain states that there were two submarines present, one of which took him on board and inquired as to his destination and the position of the remainder of the convoy. Three boats are still missing, and out of a total crew of 75, 62 are as yet unaccounted for.4

     4.   SUBMARINE ACTIVITY.

          The marked submarine activity that prevailed during the first two weeks of August has shown a decided falling off during the past week, although it is believed that two and perhaps three submarines are still operating at large off-shore while the two submarines which were mentioned last week as cruising off Penmarch and between the Gironde and Santander have been sighted again this week in the same localities. The submarine which sank the CUBORE on the night of the 15th,5 torpedoed the British vessel IDAHO at nine p.m. on the 18th6 in Lat. 46-15 N., Long. 09-42 W., and the JOSEPH CUDAHY was torpedoed and sunk on the 17th in Lat. 46-25 N., Long. 17-51 W. by perhaps the same submarine which torpedoed the WEST BRIDGE and MONTANAN last week.7 . . .

     6.   EXTRACTS FROM WAR DIARY.

20 August – Assistant Secretary of the Navy Franklin D. Roosevelt and his inspecting party arrived in Brest on the morning of 19 August 1918, and remained until the evening of the following day. The party arrived at about 10:45 a.m. in automobiles from Quimper. The Assistant Secretary was lodged in apartments at No. 1 rue Traverse and the remainder of the party at the Hotel Continental.

          At 11.00 o’clock a.m., the Commander U.S.Naval Forces in France called on Mr. Roosevelt and proceeded with him to the Flag Office, where the Secretary received calls from the officials of Brest. At 12.30 P.M., the Commander U.S.Naval Forces in France entertained Assistant Secretary Roosevelt at luncheon at the Naval Officers’ Mess. At the close of the luncheon after a brief rest, the Secretary, with the Commander U.S.Naval Forces in France, made return visits upon those who had called on the Secretary at the Flag Office in the morning.

          The party then made visits of inspection to the French Arsenal, to Lanninon and to the Brest Air Station, returning at 5.00 P.M., to the Naval Officers’ Mess; where an informal reception to the officers of the U.S.Navy and Army was held by Assistant Secretary Roosevelt. This reception was very largely attended. At 7.00 P.M. Mr. Roosevelt delivered a brief address at the Navy Y.M.C.A. Hut to hundreds of enlisted men and officers of the Navy. . . .

Source Note: D, DNA, RG 45, Entry 520, box 440. Attached to the report is a list of ships that arrived and departed from ports in France for each day covered by the report. The list for each day is done on a separate sheet.

Footnote 1: For a description of the Walzer apparatus, see: Wilson to Sims, 4 August 1918.

Footnote 2: The U.S. steamer WEST BRIDGE was torpedoed twice on 18 August, with 4 men lost, by the German submarine U-90.

Footnote 3: This was a project to provide water service for the installation at Brest.

Footnote 4: The cargo ship JOSEPH CUDAHY was torpedoed on 17 August by U-90. Only one man was lost, the rest escaping in lifeboats and subsequently being rescued.

Footnote 5: For more on the attack on CUBORE, see: Benson to Sims, 19 August 1918.

Footnote 6: The steamer Idaho was sunk by U-107 on 18 August 1918, with a loss of 11 men.

Footnote 7: The U.S. cargo ship MONTANAN was sunk by U-90 on 15 August, with the loss of 5 men.

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