Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Rear Admiral Hugh Rodman, Commander, Battleship Division Nine, to Vice Admiral William S. Sims, Commander, United States Naval Forces Operating in European Waters

[Extract]

CONFIDENTIAL

U.S.NAVAL FORCES OPERATING IN EUROPEAN WATERS.

                    Battleship Division Nine   

UNITED STATES ATLANTIC FLEET

U.S.S.NEW YORK, Flagship.

                    [Rosyth, Scotland]

31 August 1918.    

From:     Commander BATTLESHIP DIVISION NINE.

To  :     Force Commander.        

Subject:  General Report – week ending 31 August 1918.

     1.   MOVEMENTS OF VESSELSSPOTTING PRACTICEAEROPLANE ATTACK.

          . . . . During our spotting practice an exercise airplane attack was made on the NEW YORK and ARKANSAS by planes from H.M.S.FURIOUS.1 The experience gained, information obtained, and lessons learned from this and other sources, are covered in a strictly confidential special report forwarded this date.2 Too much stress cannot be placed upon the necessity and advisability of keeping the contents of this report absolutely secret, as it is understood that the enemy is very desirous and has made special efforts to gain information along these lines. . . .

     Owing to information concerning the enemy, all ships are kept in instant readiness for getting underway. . . .

          2.   VISITS.

               On Thursday, August 29th, the Assistant Secretary of the Navy3 made an official visit to this Division . . . He left the same night for Invergordon.4

               During his stay he called on the Commander-in-Chief, GRAND FLEET,5 and visited the other ships of this Division.

          Senator William H. Thompson of Kansas visited the Division at the same time and also left on the same date.6

          3.   RADIO PERSONNEL LOANED TO BATTLESHIP DIVISION SIX.

               An officer and six men, radio electricians, have been loaned to BATTLESHIP DIVISION SIX to assist them with communications and British procedure. . . .

          5.   ATHLETICS, LIBERTY, ETC.

               This Division has taken an active part in our own and Grand Fleet athletics, and our men have won their full share in the competition and prizes.

               Baseball teams carry out regular schedules.

               All the liberty possible under four hours notice is given, in addition to which divisions in charge of an officer are sent on shore for marching along the country roads and for athletic sports. The object is to afford exercise, interest and amusement for the men, rather than enter into regular cut and dried sports on a competitive basis which might be found difficult to execute as per schedule.

               Ensigns C.R.Herd, USNRF, and T.F.Hunter, USNRF. were chosen as representatives of the Grand Fleet and were sent to London to participate in an allied Army-Navy tennis tournament, where they won every match in which they played.7

               All of this is conducive to the good feelings which has always obtained between our own and the British personnel in the Grand Fleet.

Hugh Rodman        

Source Note: TDS, DNA, RG 45, Entry 520, Box 381. Distribution list below signature: “To: F.Comdr [i.e., Force Commander]./File.” Document identifiers at top of page: “File 7.” and “1/L.” There is also a running head at the top of the second page: “C.B.D.9 [Commander Battleship Division 9] – file 7 -31 August 1918 - Subject: General Report; week ending 31 August 1918.”

Footnote 1: The Royal Navy “invented the aircraft carrier during World War I.” The converted cruiser Furious was one of these first dedicated aircraft carriers. Thomas C. Hone, Norman Friedman, and Mark D. Mandeles, American & British Aircraft Carrier Development, 1919-1941 (Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 1999), 86-87.

Footnote 2: The report has not been found.

Footnote 3: Franklin D. Roosevelt.

Footnote 4: Invergordon, Scotland, site of American base #17, was used by the Mine Force laying the North Sea mine barrage.

Footnote 5: Adm. Sir David Beatty, R.N.

Footnote 6: For more on Thompson’s visit to Europe, see: Henry Wilson to Sims, 4 August 1918.

Footnote 7: Ens. Clifton R. Herd and Ens. Francis T. Hunter. The latter was a Davis Cup player. New York Times, December 4, 1981.

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