Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Vice Admiral William S. Sims, Commander, United States Navy Forces Operating in European Waters, to Captain Joel R. Poinsett Pringle, Commander, Destroyer Flotilla, Queenstown

December 10th. 1917

My dear Pringle,

          After being absent with the mission to Paris since November 27th,1 I arrived back here to find your letters of November 23rd, 28th, and December 6th, enclosing the set of photographs you sent me, and the set enclosed from Berrien, and also announcing that all hands are well and that the enthusiasm for the work has not decreased – on the contrary the recent events have tended to increase it.2

          Of course Admiral Benson got away before I received the photographs, but I will forward him the set indicated. I will also give to the Admiralty the negatives you sent as they want to enlarge them. The have promised me a number of copies in exchange for the negatives. I will send you some of these. I agree with you that Berrien handled the situation in a very officerlike way and did just exactly the right thing. It immediately attracted our attention up here and we all commented on it. I will write him a bit of a note on the subject.3

          I am sorry that I did not see Mr. Paine either when he was going through this way to Queenstown or on his return. I have not yet seen his articles but will look them up unless they have gone through to the Censor.4 I wish newspapers would send men of his type when they want to write up affairs of the Flotilla. I wrote Mr. Daniels a personal letter and explained to him how difficult it was for us to do anything for a man who paid so little attention to the amenities of life as Mr. Conolly.5

          Very much obliged to you for the offer of more sugar, but we have plenty to do us for some time.

          As far as I can see at present we will be able to get up to Queenstown for Christmas in answer to the very kind invitation of Admiral Bayly.6 I hope nothing will occur to interfere with this, but you can never tell during these stormy times.

          While I was at Brest I began to receive scraps of information about the loss of the JACOB JONES.7 I need not say, I am sure, that I was very much distressed at the loss of this fine vessel and so many of her gallant crew. I have written Bagley a letter.8 I am entirely confident that the report of the sinking will show that all hands handled the situation as well as possible under the circumstances.

          Please give my best regards to Daniels and thank him for his attention to all our numerous personal requests.

          I found so much accumulation of work on my desk, that I will not have time to write as fully as I should like to.

          Remain as cheerful as you can.

Very sincerely yours,

Source Note: LT, DLC-MSS, William Sims Papers, box 79. Following the close, the letter is addressed, “Captain J.R.P. Pringle, U.S.N./U.S.S. MELVILLE./Queenstown.”

Footnote 1: Sims had been in Paris attending the second Allied Naval Conference on 27 and 28 November, the major result of which was the formation of an Inter-Allied Naval Council. Adm. William S. Benson, Chief of Naval Operations, also attended this conference, acting as the Navy’s representative on the House Commission, headed by Edward M. House. This diplomatic mission had arrived in London in early November to gain a fuller picture of joint British and American naval efforts and to devise additional methods for further cooperation and coordination as equal partners is naval planning and strategy. Following the conference in Paris, the Mission, accompanied by Sims, toured the various naval installations in France before returning to the United States on 4 December.

Footnote 2: For Pringle’s first letter, see: Pringle to Sims, 23 November 1917. The other two letters have not been located. Lt. Cmdr. Frank D. Berrien was the commanding officer of the destroyer Nicholson. On 17 November 1917, Nicholson was on patrol with Fanning when the two destroyers encountered the German submarine U-58. As Sims notes above, during the course of the engagement, Fanning and its commanding officer, Lt. Arthur S. Carpender, took the lead in this engagement, which ended with the sinking of the submarine and the capture of 35 members of the submarine’s crew and four of its officers. For accounts of this engagement, see: Carpender to Sims, 18 November 1917, and Diary of Angus W. Wiggins, 17 November 1917.

Footnote 4: Ralph D. Paine worked for the Committee on Public Information and the U.S. Navy. In 1918 his essays were collected in a book, The Fighting Fleets; Five Months of Active Service with the American Destroyers and their Allies in the War Zone (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1918).

Footnote 5: Cmdr. Joseph F. Daniels, Sims’ liaison officer with the Destroyer Flotilla. Conolly was Christopher P. Connolly, a correspondent for Collier’s Weekly, who, like Paine, was in Queenstown reporting on the Destroyer Flotilla. Sims’ letter to Daniels about Connolly and his poor manners and behavior while at Queenstown has not been located.

Footnote 6: Admiral Sir Lewis Bayly, Commander, Naval Forces, Southern Ireland.

Footnote 7: On 6 December 1917, JACOB JONES, with Lt. Cmdr. David W. Bagley as its commanding officer, was struck by a torpedo and sunk by the German submarine U-53. Of the 110 man crew, 64 perished, including 2 officers. For a detailed account of the sinking, see; Bagley to Sims, 10 December 1917.

Footnote 8: This letter has not been located.

Tags