Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Vice Admiral William S. Sims, Commander, United States Naval Forces Operation in European Waters, to Anne Hitchcock Sims

Hotel de Crillon, Paris

Dec 1, 1917 (Saturday)

My precious Nani,

               I have mailed you by the pouch today two letters giving you all the news of my activities up to last night.

     Since then such plans as we thought we had have been changed. I expected to remain here until Monday, at least.

     I was going to dinner with Mr. and Mrs. Bliss and Peg was going with me, and the Joe Smiths were to be there.1 On Sunday evening I was going to dine at the Ambassadors.2

     After the above had all been nicely arranged, Ad. B.3 announced this forenoon that he would leave for Bordeaux this evening, spend Sunday there and return here Monday evening. Later we will have to go to the coast again – if the plans of the Colonel will permit. I went to see Peg this morning to give her the bad news. When I come back she is going to ask Ambassador and Mrs. Sharp, Mr. Thackara and some others to dinner.4 On Tuesday, Dec. 4th, I am going to lunch with the President and Mrs. Poincaré.5 About the last of this week the whole party will sail for home and I will return to London – and I will be very glad to settle down to my own affairs for a time.

     I have promised to spend x mas with Admiral Bayly and “the Only Niece”.6 I hope I will not be disappointed.

     I am in my usual perfect health and not the least bit tired. All my affairs are going on well. The visit of our people will, I believe, prove of great benefit.7 I believe that every single one of the recommendations I have been making for months past will be carried out. What a pity they could not have trusted to our judgment. I hope, now that they see for themselves that all the recommendations were wholly justified, they will have a little more confidence in future. Nous allons voir.8

     I have not received any personal mail since I left; and probably will not receive any until I get back; so I have none of your dear letters to answer. They are waiting for me in London. I hope you were not troubled by the situation explained by the correspondence in the express package.9 I am sure that the misunderstandings shown by that correspondence has now practically passed away – and that measures have been taken that will prevent a similar occurrence in the future. What little advantage P.D.s take of past experience!10 Sometimes I think I will write up a sort of history of our minor mistakes for the benefit of future generations and with a view of showing the principles violated.

     Now I must close and get a bite of dinner before going to the train.

     I will send this in the open mail. I wonder when it will reach you.

     I will write again when I get back here. This carries all my love to you, my sweetheart, and to our precious ones. I have your last photo, and those of all the chicks with me, and I see then many times a day.

Your devoted

Will

Source Note: ALS, DLC-MSS, William S. Sims Papers, Box 9.

Footnote 1: Sims was in Paris at this time attending the Allied Naval Conference that had taken place 29 and 30 November, advising Adm. William S. Benson, Chief of Naval Operations, who, as a member of the fact-finding House Mission (led by Colonel Edward M. House), served as the chief representative of the Navy. Maj. Gen. Tasker H. Bliss was the Army’s representative on this mission and, as Sims indicates here, was accompanied by his wife, Eleanor, on this trip. It is unclear who Peg and the Joe Smiths were.

Footnote 2: William G. Sharp, United States Ambassador to France.

Footnote 3: Adm. Benson.

Footnote 4: Ambassador Sharp’s wife was Hallie M. Sharp (neé Clough). Alexander M. Thackara was the American Consul General in Paris.

Footnote 5: President of France Raymond Poincaré and his wife, Henriette (neé Benucci).

Footnote 6: Adm. Sir Lewis Bayly, Commander, Naval Forces, Southern Ireland, and his niece, Miss Violet Voysey.

Footnote 7: That is, the visit of the House Mission, specifically, that of Benson. One of the chief objectives of the House Mission was to clear up any misunderstandings or miscommunications about the role of the United States Navy in the naval plans and objectives of the British Admiralty in the wake of the October visit of Adm. Henry T. Mayo, Commander-in-Chief, Atlantic Fleet, as well as to pursue closer coordination in the planning and undertaking of Allied naval activities. Sims had been pursuing the latter actively since his arrival in London in April 1917, something that his superiors in Washington, including Benson and Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels had been wary of.

Footnote 8: In English: “We shall see.”

Footnote 10: “P.D.” was Sims’ shorthand for “Persons of Distinction.”

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