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Vice Admiral William S. Sims, Commander, United States Naval Forces Operating in European Waters, to Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels



U.S.S. Melville, Flagship

16 August 1918.         


From:  Force Commander.

To  :  Secretary of the Navy (Operations).

SUBJECT:  General Report.

     1.   ENEMY SUBMARINE OPERATIONS (July 28 – August 3).

     During the week from July 28 to August 3 there were at sea probably twenty-five submarines of the types which work outside the North Sea waters. This number included four “cruisers”, one of which was probably a new type of mine layer.1 These boats were either operating off the American and Canadian coast or on their way there.

     There were four or five submarines off the north co[a]st of Ireland and seven or eight between the south of Ireland and the north coast of Spain. The remaining boats have been on passage with the exception of one operating off the coast of Portugal.

     There was a revival of activity in the English Channel, but the submarines have been less active off the east coast of England. The following table gives the estimate of the British Admiralty of the distribution of enemy submarines in British waters and the Atlantic:-


Average number of submarines in area per day.

North Sea, south of 53°31’N


North Sea, north of 53°31’N

5 – 6


1 – 2

Atlantic, North of Finisterre

2 – 3

Atlantic, south of Finisterre


Atlantic (western)

1 – 2

N.W. of Ireland and Scotland

6 – 7

Irish Sea, north of 54° N

1   ?

Irish Sea, south of 54°N


Bristol Channel (Irish Sea)

1 – 2

English Channel Approaches

2 – 3

English Channel, W. of Lyme Regis


English Channel, E. of Lyme Regis


English Channel, E. of Lyme Regis


Bay of Biscay



25 – 32

(August 4 – 10)

     During the first two days of this week the distribution of submarines continued to be the same as in the previous week, i.e. there were four off North Sea, five to six off the approaches to the English Channel and the Bay of Biscay, and four to five off east coast of England. During the latter part of the week these concentrations diminished to such an extent that the English Channel became practically free of submarines, except for the boats on passage to and from the Bay of Biscay.

     From a study of the tracks of the three or four boats remaining at sea in these areas it would appear that they have been cruising from 50° N to 42° N, across the convoy lanes to the French coast in the hope of intercepting the convoys and torpedoing the stragglers. In this they have been fairly successful as they have torpedoed three steamers, a French cruiser and a large sailing vessel. Two American ships in the French coal trade and a Swedish steamer were sunk south of Brest by one of the Flanders boats, which has been cruising in that vicinity. This boat started home on Saturday.

     In addition to the three cruising submarines on the American coast, which have continued their operations, there is a converted mercantile cruiser en route for the Azores or the Canaries well out to sea. There seems also to be one submarine of the U type en route for the Azores though it is possible this submarine may turn back on reaching 43°N and operate across the transport lanes.

     From information received from the British Admiralty it is probable that there are two additional submarines of the converted mercantile type putting to sea for cruises in American waters. These two are in addition to the three already operating in that area.2

     A submarine operating last week near the Straits of Gibraltar seems to have been one of the submarines operating from the Adriatic. During the week there were apparently only fi<v>e submarines operating in the Mediterranean they had relatively little success and the situation in the Mediterranean seems to be very satisfactory.

     The tonnage sunk during the week was greater than in the two preceding weeks, but was still comparatively a low figure as it amounted to only about 60,000 tons.

     2.   ATTACKS UPON ENEMY SUBMARINES (July 28 – August <3>).

     During the week the Admiralty received reports of 49 engagements with enemy submarines in waters about the British Isles. These engagements were as shown on the following table:-

5 by T.B.D’s.

4 by P.class vessels and sloops.

2 by submarines.

1 by special service vessels.

20 by Auxiliary Patrol

9 by aircraft.

3 by U.S. chaser.

5 by merchant ship.

     On August 3, U.B.-53 ran into mine nets in the Otranto Barrage, and was so seriously damaged that it was compelled to come to the surface. It was attacked by patrol craft and sunk, 27 prisoners including commanding officer and two other officers were taken. From the interrogation of these prisoners it was learned that the submarine attacked with ten depth charges in the Otranto Straits on July 27 was probably destroyed.

     H.M.S. “STOCKFORCE”, a small “Q” ship which has been employed in transporting supplies between Queenstown and Plymouth was torpedoed 20 miles south of Prawle on July 30. Submarine came to the surface and was engaged at close range by gunfire from the sinking “Q” ship. Several direct hits were observed and the Captain of the “STOCKFORCE” believed there no doubt that the submarine had been sunk. “STOCKFORCE” also sunk shortly afterwards. The Admiralty after receiving the report of the Captain of “STOCKFORCE”, has credited him with the sinking of the submarine.3

     On July 31 an American submarine chaser unit located and attacked a submarine off Plymouth. The results are as yet unknown.

     On July 31 the British trawler W. S. BAILEY located a submarine and chased her from 10:40 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. in a position about 50 miles from Kinnairds Head. Submarine came to the surface several times, and was attacked and apparently seriously damaged by gunfire as heavy volumes of smoke were seen to rise, and oil was observed on the surface.

     On August 2 a submarine attacked a troop convoy in the north channel of the Irish Sea. It was immediately attacked in turn with depth charges by the patrolling craft. The submarine submerged and shortly afterwards a heavy explosion was heard; as this occurred in the neighborhood of a deep minefield it is thought possible that the submarine when diving may have run into the mines.4

     On August 3 a British submarine, E-40 sighted an enemy submarine 16 miles west of the Naze. E-40 dived in order to get into a position for attacking. As the darkness obscured the periscope E-40 came to the surface 9:41 p.m. and nine minutes later fired two torpedoes at range of about 2600 yards. The E-40 then attacked the enemy submarine with gunfire. When the enemy submarine returned the fire E-40 dived, but while submerging a shell burst in the conning tower, wounding the captain. After submerging nothing further was heard or seen of the enemy submarine.

     On August 3 at 10:40 a.m. a group of trawlers saw signs of a submarine in a position 2-1/2 miles west north west of Trevose Head, Cornwall. Three depth charges were dropped which brought oil and air bubbles to the surface. The following day an obstruction was located 3-1/2 miles off Trevose Head from which oil was rising. It therefore appears possible that the submarine may have been destroyed.5

     3.   ENEMY MINING OPERATIONS (July 28 to August 3).

     During the week 48 enemy moored mines were destroyed. After a lapse of more than amonth the enemy laid mines again on the south east coast off Beachy Head and Dover. Apparently these mines were laid by at least two of the Flanders U.C. boats. There were also mines laid in the Lowestoft and Harwich areas in what the Germans apparently thought to be the approach channels for the Harwich forces but in both cases the mines were laid too far to the north. The group of mines in the Downs were cleverly laid well inside and across traffic of a short period until the mines were swept out. The following table shows the number of enemy mines destroyed and British vessels sunk by mines in British waters for recent weeks:-

Week ended

NO. of Enemy moored mines destroyed

No. of British Minesweepers and patrols sunk by mines.

No. of British merchant steamships sunk by mines.

June 22




June 29




July 6




July 13




July 20




July 27




Aug. 3





     In addition two destroyers have, as before mentioned, been sunk by mine in the North Sea during the year.


     The following table gives the number and tonnage of merchant vessels sunk in recent weeks by enemy action. This table has been corrected from the figures given last week:-

Week ended.


British Vessels

Allied & Neutral



1600 tons gross and over

Under 1600 tons gross

1600 tons gross and over

Under 1600 tons gross

All sizes

No. Tonnage

No. Tonnage

No. Tonnage

No. Tonnage

No Tonnage

July 6

6 25,860

4     542

3 22,992

10x 4,088x

23x 53,482x

July 13

6 27,049

1     339

9 27,319

12  4,415

28 59,122x

July 20

10 78,713

2     215

3 11,902

8   8,058

23 98,888

July 27

7x 26,668x

2    2,150

3 11,755

6x  4,705x

18x 45,278x

Aug. 3

3 15,655

2    1,939

4 13,896

4  2,888

13 34,378

Aug. 10

   60,000 (est.)

X – Admiralty estimate.



     During the month of July there were completed in the United Kingdom 39 vessels of a gross tonnage of 141,948. The total new construction of the first seven months of 1918 has amounted to 259 vessels of 905,194 gross tons.

     During July a total of 723 British vessels of 2,293, 405 gross tons completed repairing. About 30% of these had been under repair for three days or less; about 40% for from three to ten days; about 20% of from ten days to a month, and about 10% for more than amonth.

     During the month of July the British Merchant tonnage over 500 tons gross, suffered a net loss of 37,000 tons. The total of British vessels sunk by enemy action amounted to 174,035 while the total of new vessels entered for service was 159,780. On July 31st the total tonnage of vessels of more then 500 tons in the British Mercantile Marine was 15,068,069. The tonnage available for service however was greater at the end of the month than at the beginning by about 100,000 tons. This was caused by a large reduction in the British tonnage under or awaiting repairs.

     In May 64 war ships and auxiliary vessels of 39,983 tons displacement were completed; in June 67 vessels of 35,271 tons displacement; in July 65 vessels of XXXXXXX 34,958 tons displacement.

     5.   ATTACKS ON MERCHANT VESSELS (July 28 – August 3).

     The tonnage which arrived at or left the United Kingdom ports during the week given encoded 5,000,000 tons, but only one vessel of 2589 tons was lost in the overseas trade. The percentage of losses to sailing in the overseas trade was .14% as against .99% the previous week. The percentage losses on the cross-channel trades are .74% as against .34% and in coasting trades .7% as against .14% in the previous week. For all United Kingdom trades the percentage was .28% as against.53% in the previous week. During the week 1495 vessels which had been in convoys completed their voyages. Seven vessels were sunk while in convoy, two while homeward-bound, en route to Great Britain, one while outward-bound from Great Britain. The other four vessels were sunk in the Mediterranean local convoys.


          At the present time the majority of the enemy submarines appear to be passing through Norwegian territorial waters on their homeward trip.


          On August 3 the Ambulance transport WARILDA en route from Havre to Southhampton was torpedoed and sunk by enemy submarine 35 miles from Beachy Head. Two military officers, 113 men, one commandant Q.M.A.C. and one officer and six men of the crew were lost.


     On August 1 the Allied Expeditionary Force in the White Sea occupied Modyuski Island after slight opposition. The following day troops were landed without difficulty at Archangel, the Bolshevists completely collapsed and all troops, excepting those friendly to the Allies, withdrew to the left bank of the river. The arrival of the Allies was greeted with general enthusiasm by the neighbourhood. A new administration was formed known as “The Supreme Directorate of the Northern Region” and the Allied Consuls who had been arrested by the Bolshevists August 1 were released. The allied troops at once began an advance to the south which seems to be proceeding satisfactorily.6

     There is enclosed copy of messages exchanged between British General at Archangel and the British War Office.7


     The latest reports indicate that during the month of July eight submarines were completed by the Germans. During the month eight were destroyed or their destruction in a previous period ascertained. The Admiralty therefore considers that the total number of submarines available remains the same, i.e. about 174, of which 27 are school ships; this would have 147 in active operations. It is now believed that there are only 14 of the Austrian submarines which are availablefor active operations. Fifteen submarines were launched in Germany during July. It is believed that there are now a total of 109 which have been launched and 75 additional which are still on the slips, making a total of 184 now being constructed.


          On July 22 an experimental hunting operation by five Quee<n>stown destroyers fitted with listening devices was carried out. Although the results obtained in this operation were nil, it is considered that this type of operations has considerable possibilities for the future when sufficient destroyers are available and particularly in case the listening devices are developed to a more practical state than at present. . . .


(a) Otranto Detachment.

          Cable information indicates that this detachment made no attacks on submarines during the week ending August 10, although a number of contacts were apparently made. Reports indicate that into two or three instances where contact was made the failure to carry out attack was chargeable entirely to inexperienced personnel. In one case a chaser was within gun range of an enemy submarine and failed to attack; reason given that he had been told not to use his gun except in an emergency as there was no spare main spring. This is a typical example of Reserve Officers, through inexperience, not understanding how to use initiative and carry out orders. There is apparent a most satisfactory co-operation between our forces and the British forces on the barrage and a thorough understanding between the officers in charge. The training of Listeners using a submarine loaned by Italy should begin at Gallipoli (Italy) this week. In addition to the training of Listerners steps are being taken to train gun crews and conduct target practice.

(b) Channel Detachment.

     During the week Captain Leigh8 personally took charge of four units and carried out a hunt in a<n> area to the westward of Sicily Islands. What was believed to be an excellent contact with a submarine was lost through inexperience of personnel. The Officer-of-the-deck of the chaser that made the contact was formerly a tailor by trade and has had but six months naval experience. Although his listener was sure he had a submarine, the contact was not followed up merely due to inexpedience and knowledge of maneuvering the boat in order to get proper bearings and ulitize them to the best advantage.


     Too much stress cannot be laid upon the necessity for experienced officers in these sub-chasers.


     A great deal of difficulty has been experienced with communications between the sub. Chasers which is largely traceable to the inefficiency of Radio Operators and of Officer in directing them and utilizing the available communications to the best advantage.


     It is found that very few of the chasers have ever had any kind of gun drill. No drill shell are available nor any equipment permitting sub. caliber practice. The majority of the chasers have fired their 3” guns very little. An attempt will be made to find and detail an Officer as Gunnery officer at each base.


     The necessity has become apparent of developing athletics and healthy amusements at the sub. chaser bases. The matter is considered sufficiently important for the welfare of the officers and men to justify the detail of officers to this duty.


     A station ship is urgently needed at the Corfu base. None can be furnished from the European forces at present.


     The work of installing the MV device – known as the “Blister type” - on the WILKES continues.9 The WILKES should be ready to come our of dry dock about the 18th August. A design of the “Blister Type” MV device is being completed for installation on board sub Chasers. The “Blister Type” – if it can be installed on the sub chaser, will be very much more satisfactory than any other device we now have and will be much freer of water noises.

     The AYLWIN has made a preliminary trial of the OS tube, which is a towing K-tube, and reports that at 10 knots there was no difficulty in towing, but at 15 knots the tube breached. The ALYWIN cruised about in the vicinity of shipping, running at 10 knots and stopping about two minutes for listening. The device seemed to function well. It is believed that it will work as well as the drifting K-tube, especially if auxiliaries are shut down. On this test there was so much shipping in the vicinity that no accurate data as to range accuracy, etc. could be obtained, but the listeners reported that there was no <difficulty> in picking up sounds and that the auxiliaries of the ship did not bother them a great deal. A more complete test of this apparatus will be carried out as soon as practicable. It is tho<u>ght that the OS-Tube for long range work may prove of value. For short range, it will not be so good.

     The Destroyer-yacht ISABEL is in dockat Brest having the Walzer device installed. This will be ready in about one month when the vessel is again ready for sea.

          50 K-tubes complete have been sent to Brest and some of these should be installed on the yachts, minesweepers, and destroyers. The latter may be given the boom rig. Instruction books concerning the rig and how to use it have been sent to Brest. Except for the men on Destroyers already equipped, there is no one in Brest who has been trained in the use of this device.

     Two K-tubes complete have been ordered, shipped to Italy for the Italian Navy. They will be taken from the Brest Supply.


     It is expected that Captain Cone|10 and staff will transfer Headquarters to London about September 1. The organization of the Northern Bombing Group is progressing satisfactorily. It is expected that the night squadrons in this group will be in operation within a week.11

     The question of re-inforcing the British Royal Air Force by taking over additional seaplane stations in England is now under consideration. It is unofficially understood that the Air Council will very probably offer us all the stations in the South West Group which includes a large station on the Scilly Islands. The complement of these stations is approximately 1,600 men with a proportionate to number of officers.

     12.  ORDNANCE.


          Lieutenant Kendall, U.S.N.R.F. has returned to the United States accompanied by Lieutenant Commander Coates, R.N.V.R., who is one of the Admiralty Staff of Chemists developing Naval Gas Warfare.


          Estimate this entire Battery will be ready to begin operations 1 September 1918.


          Professor Bumstead and Commander Thomson12 visited Portsmouth where they witnesse<d> the test of a blowinh head of a torpedo and inspected the “acoustic” and “magnetic” mines. These are two different designs of non-contact mines. A full report will be made to the Navy Department on these mines as soon as drawings and descriptive pamphlets of the general features can be obtained from the Admiralty. The first 300 of the magnetic mines (known as “Destructor” Mines) have been completed and it is understood were to have been laid during the past week in the Straits of Dover. These mines contain 1,000 lbs explosive. Both the acoustic and magnetic mines are considered past the experimental stage but it is probable that improvements will be made on them from time to time. The details of these mines are treated by the Admiralty as highly secret. It is no less important to keep secret the fact that such mines are in use.


          Arrangements have been made for the Mining School to notify when the next German G-7 torpedo is picked up with the view to requesting the Admiralty to deliver it to the Force Commander for shipment to the United States.


     1,000 due Base 5 August 20. Will furnish depth charges to Base 25 and 2713 as soon as available for shipment. Reserve supply at these bases exhausted.


     A total of 70 guns have been transferred by orders of the Force Commander and installed on merchant vessels. A complete list of these guns and mounts was forwarded to the Department this week.14


          Weekly report with enclorues from the Commanding Officer of the OLYMPIA based on Murmansk for the week ending 13 July is forwarded herewith.15

     The temporary agreement entered into between representatives of Great Britain, United States and France and the Murmansk Regional Consul for the object of united action on the part of the countries concerned for the defence of the Murmansk region against German aggression has been fully covered by cable and separate correspondence.


          There is attached a list of vessels of this command undergoing repairs of overhaul with comments thereon.16

          Application has been made to the Tug Distribution Committee of the Admiralty for the assignment of the paddle tug EARL ROBERTS to our service at Cardiff.17

          Request has also been made for the assignment of another self-propelled Hopper barge for our use on the French coast.

          Arrangements have been made to have the Admiralty supervise the paravane equipment on the cross-channel ships under Navy control.

     Practically all destroyers under overhaul at Liverpool were delayed three or four days owing to August holidays.

     During the past week there has been forwarded to the United States for the information of the Department, in connection with the production of similar equipment, a British standard steam kite balloon winch and an 8” submersible electric salvage pump.

     15. SUPPLIES.

     While mixed cargoes are troublesome because of the impossibility of obviating delays due to re-handling and trans-shipment, it is nevertheless realized that the practice cannot be avoided and must continue <i>f trans-Atlantic tonnage is to be utilized to the maximum. Many difficulties arise in this connection; for example, with seaplanes and other bulky aviation material shipped in oilers which can seldom be routed to the destination of such shipment. At present eighty cases of se<a>planes for French and Irish stations are at Plymouth which are so bulky that it is impossible to handle them over the railways and they are so heavy that ordinary coast-wise steamers cannot effect the transfer. The distribution involves the use of vessels with gear capable of handling heavy weights.

     Another ship necessarily routed to Brest has the following materal in addition to her cargo of oil: One thousand depth charges: motor launches: seaplanes for Queenstown: and seventy cases of seaplanes for Killingholme. This vessel will be routed to Queenstown to discharge all her cargo there for re-shipment. The PROTEUS carried cargo for the 6th Battle Squadron, Aberdeen, Killingholme, Queenstown, and Eastleigh (near Southhampton). Included in the consignments for Killingholme were eleven seaplane lighters and in the cargo for Queens<town> three thousand tons of aviation material. The Cuyama necessarily routed to Scapa has on board fourteen motor boats of various types for Aviation Stations in Ireland.


     Efforts are being made to establish a Supply Depot at Southhampton to serve the eight cross-channel vessels and other needs which will arise in connection with the Aviation Base at Eastleigh. The latter is not near any docks. It is possible at present to secure storage space on the water front to the extent of about 14,000 square feet which will be sufficient for the time being. It is intended at present to carry provisions, clothing, and miscellaneous stores at thie [i.e., this] Depot for only 1,200 men for three months. Although it has been impossible to secure facilities forhandling incoming and outgoing Aviation material ourselves, satisfactory arrangements have been made with the British authorities to assist us. Several thousand tons of material and equipment is now in process of shipment to Eastleigh.


     The decision to take over U.S.Vessels of the Army Coal Service operating from Cardiff involves very large demands as regards supplies and supply facilities. Pay Inspector Schafer18 will visit Cardiff to study the situation and attempt to locate existing structures which may be secured for base purposes. He will be assisted by local Admiralty officials.


     No. 2 oil tank at Brest was completed on the 9th instant giving a storage capacity there of approximately 21,000 tons. No. 3 tank (7000 tons) will be completed about September 15. Our Naval activities on the French coast point to the necessity of still further expansion of oil storage capacity. The Admiralty at present have discontinued supplying oil to Brest on the understanding, however, that they will relieve us at any time in case of shortage.


     The delay in sailing of the CELTIC will complicate supply matters at Plymouth somewhat as the stocks there were based on <her> arrival about August 1. Queenstown food stuffs are on hand in sufficient quantity to subsist our forces for about twenty-one weeks with the exception of meats. The meat stock will be allowed to fall to about ten weeks in order to permit repairs to cold storage plants without <which> our entire supply might be jeopardized. A working arrangement has been made with the Food Controller by which we have delivered to him certain items from our excess which he will return in equivalent quantity of stocks when we are short. Every effort is being made to ensure that we shall not be embarrassed in case a supply ship should be lost.


     Arrangements are being made to supply ships to be based at Berehaven by rail shipments and thence by British trawlers.

     It will be necessary to maintain a small oiler with these forces in order to ensure their being able to put to sea with full capacity at any time. In order to supply coal it will be necessary to obtain the services of a small collier. . . .


     The volume of work in connection with material and supplies is rapidly increasing in volume. Additional officers and clerical assistance are now needed.


     There is forwarded herewith weekly memorandum19 concerning activities of the Communications Section of these Headquarters. This memorandum shows clearly the steady increase of administrative work. It will be noted that during the week ending August 9 a total of 166,000 code groups were handled. The work in connection with radio material is also growing constantly20. . . .


     Steps are being taken to take over Red Cross hospitals which could be used by the Navy and administer them as U.S. Naval Hospitals. This is considered a very desirable course. Generally speaking,from observation and experience, it is considered that the work done by both the Y.M.C.A. and the Red Cross would be more useful and satisfactory if they were a definite part of the Naval Establishment, particularly in foreign countries. It is important that all activities which in any way affect the service, be under direct military control and supervision of the Navy. It is understood that this agrees with the policy of the Bureau of Medicine and Surgery. Preliminary steps are being taken for establishing Naval Hospitals at Plymouth and Cardiff. Navy Base Hospital #3 has been established at Leith, Scotland with Medical Director De Valin in command.21 Thirty surveyed men were sent home on the U.S.S. HARRISBURG.


     The House Committee on Naval Affairs completed its visit to England and has left for France. Every facility was extended to the members by the British authorities as well as by these Headquarters. Admiral Wilson22 was directed to detail a Captain to meet them and accompany them while in France.

     Their visit to the Queenstown base was very satisfactory and greatly appreciated. They were met at the Railway Station by a number of officers from the various ships in port. The three senior members were guests of the Commander-in-Chief23 at Admiralty House, the remainder of the party being quartered at a hotel. The entire programme while at Queenstown was very carefully planned in advance and admirably carried out. They inspected the local dockyard, the torpedo repair station, barracks, the hospital, the Melville and the destroyers KIMBERLY, CALDWELL, and ALLEN which happened to be in port. A special performance was arranged at the Men’s Club, which was attended by the Committee xxxxxxxxxxx accompanied by the Commander-in-Chief. The chairman of the Committee – Mr. Padgett – made a speech to the men which was very enthusiastically received. On the return from Queenstown the party stopped in Dublin and were received in Dublin castle by Lord French and other Irish Government officials.


     During the week ending August 10 the planning section was considering the following problems:-

(a) Details of execution of Department’s plan for battle cruiser raid.

(b) Organization of a Planning Section for Navy Department.

The Planning Section has also been in frequent consultation with the Plans Division of the Admiralty on the following subjects:-

(a) The Northern Barrage – The necessity for completing it as an important step in the anti-submarine campaign.

(b) Submarine Chaser Bases.

(c) Arrival and allocation of new destroyers.

(d) Battle Cruiser raid.

(e) German Colonies after the war.

     Captains Knox and Yarnell24 recently completed a tour of the U.S. Naval activities, on the French coast.

     Communications have been exchanged with Army General Headquarters concerning the future demands upon Naval forces in connection with the movement of troops and troop supplies. It is of the utmost importance to be able to forecast the increase in Naval forces (European Waters) at the earliest moment. This is necessary in order that advance decisions can be made as to allocation and necessary steps which must be initiated as regards fuel, supplies and repairs. The information is also very important to discussions which continually arise as to the distribution and allocation of allied vessels in connection with plans which Allied Navies have under consideration.

     The Plans Division of the Amdiralty has prepared a very interesting study of the possible use of German Colonies after the war as submarine and naval bases. The study shows clearly that if these Colonies should be so used in connection with another possible war the anti-submarine effort required to protect shipping at sea against the unlawful use of submarines would far exceed the capabilities of the combined powers of the world and that sea traffic would be more profoundly affected than during the worst periods of the present war.

     The Planning Section has also made a constant study of the experience and operations of our sub. chasers, which clearly indicates the vital necessity, which is being felt more keenly every day, of assigning Regular Officers of experience to supervise and direct the operations. The experience of the sub, chasers has shown that they are a very important factor in the anti-submarine campaign and further that their operations merit the use of the best experience in the Navy. They consider that a Lieutenant of at least three years’ sea service should be with every division and a Lieutenant Commander with every squadron and state that officers so employed would, in the opinion of the Planning Section, render more valuable service than anywhere else at sea today.

     The Planning Section which was formed in December, 1917 has been of the utmost service to the Force Commander through its studies of important political, strategic, and tactical questions, upon which it has submitted memoranda of great value not only as meeting existing situations but as forming matter of permanent value in connection with future operations.

     Many of the suggestions and recommendations made by the Planning Section have been adopted and much of the material prepared by it has been promulgated to the forces in Europe for their information and guidance.

     The influence of the Planning Section upon the British Admiralty has been noticeable as affecting the methods of work of the Plans Division of the Admiralty and affecting the opinions of the Admiralty Naval Staff. Planning Section Memorandum No. 4025 which contained some recommendations capable of being construed as critical of Admiralty methods and performances was given by me unofficially to one of the members of the Naval Staff, who I felt sure would take it as it was meant, that is, as a study of the situation from the German point of view and in no sense a criticism of the Admiralty. Not only was this paper highly thought of by the officer in question but it has been most favorably commented on by the First Sea Lord who has directed that a copy be sent to the Commander-in-Chief, Grand Fleet.26

     Great as has been the benefit to the Force Commander of the work of the Planning Section, I am disposed to believe that its chief value <h>as been in its tendency to establish mutual understanding as to methods of thought on military questions as between ourselves and the Admiralty.


     21 Sub. Chasers arrived at Plymouth from Brest, 4 more are en route. There are now 66 at that Base of which 30 are to be transferred to Queenstown.

     The BUFFALO is under orders to proceed to Gibraltar escorted by Brest destroyers as soon as escort is available. The PANTHER is also under orders to proceed to Azores as soon as escort is available. The BARRY has orders to proceed home via Azores and Bermuda and expects to sail from Gibraltar about the 14th. The American Schooner REBECCA PALMER that has been in Liverpool for a year or more has been manned with a Shipping Board crew and towed to Queenstown by the ONTARIO whence at a favorable opportunity she will be escorted to the westward and sailed for a port in the vicinity of Charleston. Route instructions have been given.

     22.  H.B.CONVOYS.

     There was some slight misunderstanding on the part of the French authorities as to the control of H.B. convoys which contains the bulk of our storeships. The Ocean escort for these convoys has been partly French and partly American, but the French have recently placed 6 Cruisers on this service, and certain orders issued indicated that they proposed to assume control. The matter was referred to the Ministry of Marine in Paris, and necessary orders have been issued to insure that the control of H.B. convoys remains with the United States who organizes these convoys and provides Commodores. Ocean escorts still consist of either French or American Cruisers.

     Arrangements have been made with the Admiralty to report direct to Operations, the arrival of Trans-Atlantic convoys in all cases except the H.B. Convoys,27 which will be reported from this office. These reports will be in addition to the ocean reports of ship arrivals and dep<ar>tures.


     To date seven Army Store Ships have sailed for French Mediterranean ports via Gibraltar. It has been impossible to date to assign more than two destroyers for this additional escort duty.

(s) SIMS.

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

Footnote 1: For more on this, see: Sims to Daniels, 10 August 1918.

Footnote 2: There were never more than three German submarines operating in American waters at any given time. Clark, When the U-Boats Came to America: passim.

Footnote 3: No German submarine was sunk on 30 July. Kemp, U-Boats Destroyed: 53-54.

Footnote 4: No submarine was sunk in the Irish Channel on this date. Ibid.

Footnote 5: No submarine was sunk in this area on this date. Ibid.

Footnote 6: In September, a force of 5,000 Americans joined with other Allied troops at Archangel, where they joined in an effort to bolster anti-Bolshevik forces in Russia. Although the Bolsheviks eventually prevailed, the Allied presence there was intended primarily to guard against Germany detaching large numbers of troops for the Western Front and to deter Japan from pursuing territorial gains in Russia. As for any actual “advance” all Allied successes anywhere in Russia were starkly limited, and of course did not prevent the ultimate conquest by Communist armies. Coffman, The War to End All Wars. 360-361.

Footnote 7: These enclosures have not been found.

Footnote 8: Capt. Richard H. Leigh was a member of the Anti-Submarine Division on Sims’ staff.

Footnote 9: The MV “Blister Type” listening device was an advanced very of the rubberized K-Tube listening device. The MV consisted of 12 air tubes attached to a vessel by special plate that prevented ship noise from registering on. The entire apparatus was covered by a metal casing that looked like a “blister.” The MV device was a considerable leap forward because it allowed sonar detection while the ship was moving. This permitted its use in both submarine hunting and convoying. Norman Friedman, Fighting the Great War at Sea: Strategy, Tactics and Technology (S Yorkshire: Pen & Sword Books, 2014), 297.

Footnote 10: Capt. Hutchinson I. Cone, Commander, United Stations Naval Aviation Forces, Foreign Service.

Footnote 11: The first night bombing raid that included forces from the Northern Bombing Group took place on 15 August, when an American B-5 bomber joined with a British squadron to drop over 1,000 pounds of explosives on enemy naval facilities at Ostend. Rossano and Wildenberg, Striking the Hornet’s Nest: 172-174.

Footnote 12: Dr. Henry A. Bumstead, a professor of physics at Yale and attached to Sims’s Scientific Section, and Lt. Cmdr.  Thaddeus A. Thomson, Jr., also a member of Sims’ staff.

Footnote 13: Corfu, Greece and Plymouth, England.

Footnote 14: This list has not been found.

Footnote 15: The commander of OLYMPIA was Capt. Bion B. Bierer. His weekly report has not been found. For more on this force and expedition, see: Sims to Opnav, 13 August 1918.

Footnote 16: This list has not been found.

Footnote 17: According to the October 1918 Supplemental List, Earl Roberts did not go to Cardiff.

Footnote 18: Pay Inspector George C. Schafer. Schafer’s duty station at this time is unknown.

Footnote 19: This memorandum has not been found.

Footnote 20: For more on this, see: Sims to Daniels, 10 August 1918.

Footnote 21: Medical Director Charles M. De Valin.

Footnote 22: RAdm. Henry B. Wilson, Commander, United States Naval Forces Based in France.

Footnote 23: Adm. Sir Lewis Bayly, Commander-in-Chief, Coast of Ireland. Two of the three senior members of the committee were Lemuel C. Padgett, D-Tennessee and Thomas S. Butler, R-Pennsylvania. The identity of the third member to stay at Admiralty House is unknown.

Footnote 24: Capt. Dudley W. Knox was a member of the Planning Section on Sims’ staff. Capt. Harry E. Yarnell was on Sims’ staff for a time, but had recently been reassigned to the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations.

Footnote 25: This memorandum is reprinted in American Naval Planning Section: 260-268.

Footnote 26: Adm. Henry T. Mayo.

Footnote 27: H.B. convoys were store ship convoys rom New York to the French Bay of Biscay ports. Wilson, American Navy in France, 47.

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