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Vice Admiral William S. Sims, Commander, United States Naval Forces Operating in European Waters, to Vice Admiral Étienne Charles Marcel Ratyé, French Naval Representative at the Allied Minelaying Conference

August 16, 1918.   

My dear Admiral Ratye,

          I have just received your very welcome letter of July 26th, enclosing your ETUDE SUR LA STRATEGIE ANTI-SOUS-MARINES EN MEDITERRANEE, and with its Annexe I and Annexe II.1

          I have read this over with great interest, but before writing to you my impression of the various recommendations made, I wish in accordance with my practice, to submit the paper for discussion by the various members of my staff who are concerned in such matters. I have no doubt that this paper will be of great suggestive benefit to them and it is barely possible that their conclusions may be of interest to you.

          I thank you very much indeed for your cordial expressions of sympathy over the efforts which the Americans are now making. We are of course new to the game, but I can assure you that we are in it with our whole energy, as well as with our hearts. Our men have come over here with the object of doing everything they can to end this distressing war. To this end they realize of course that alongside of the gallant veterans of France they are but novices; but for the most part they are a fine class of young men and I believe they will learn rapidly. All of our soldiers who have not yet been engaged with the enemy, are very much encouraged by the success of those who have been engaged, and we hope that this demonstration of their comparative efficiency will serve as an encouragement to their Allies and as an earnest of what may be expected in the future. They are coming over at the rate of about 3000,000 a month and I believe this will continue until the enemy is defeated or acknowledges that defeat is inevitable.

          Concerning Commander Nelson2 who is in command of the chasers at Corfu, he is one of the destroyer captains who was formerly under me when I commanded the torpedo forces in America, and he was one of the most efficient of all of them. I am glad that he retains a pleasant souvenir of his old commander.

          As for the chasers themselves, you of course know that we are using these because we have them. We recognize of course that they are not a very efficient type for the purpose. They were designed before the difficulty of the anti-submarine campaign was completely realized. If they can be made of any material use in putting down the submarine notwithstanding their manifest limitations, we will be satisfied. In the meantime, there are rapidly nearing completion about two hundred and fifty full power destroyers. Some of these have already arrived in European Waters, and others are arriving each month.3

          You may be sure that as soon as the safety of our troop transports is a little better assured that some of these will be sent to the Mediterranean. Already two have been sent to Gibraltar4 to assist in convoying our supply ships to Marseilles and Toulon and the next six to arrive will be sent there, also to be followed later by others.

          With regard to mines, you probably know from the discussions recently carried out at Malta that we proposed to utilize some of our mine layers that are now engaged on the northern barrage, in mining certain passages in the Mediterranean.5 I hope that all the Allies will soon be in agreement as to the best positions to be mined, so that we can get along with the work.

          I thank you very much indeed for your kindness in sending me your photograph, which I shall always keep as a valued souvenir of our cooperation with our confreres6 of the French Navy.

          Upon the chance that you would regard a photograph of mine in a similar light, I am sending you one under separate cover.

          Thanking you again for your thoughtful kindness in sending me the result of your experiences in the Mediterranean.

Believe me,

                                   Always very sincerely yours,   

Source Note: TCy, DLC-MSS, William S. Sims Papers, Box 24. Addressed below close: “Contre-Amiral Ratye,/Delegue General a la Commission de Malta,/Ministere de la Marine./P A R I S.” Document is from; “Admiral Sims’ Personal Files.” Document reference; “1/3/J.”

Footnote 1: Ratye’s letter to Sims has not been found. The paper referred to (also not found) translates to: “Study of Anti-Submarine Strategy in the Mediterranean.”

Footnote 2: Capt. Charles P. Nelson, Commander, U.S. Naval Base, Corfu, Greece.

Footnote 3: Sims was actually much displeased with the rate of arrival of new destroyers. See: Sims to Berrien, 16 August 1918.

Footnote 4: Specifically, Dyer and Gregory.

Footnote 5: For more on this conference, see: Allied Minelaying Conference, 15 August 1918.

Footnote 6: French for “brothers.”