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 Admiral Sir Lewis Bayly, R.N., Commander, Naval Forces, Southern Ireland

December 10th. 1917

My dear Admiral,

          Last night at 9 o’clock I returned to London after being absent since November 27th.1 It would take many pages for me to tell you of the activities of the mission and its various branches while in Paris, but I am sure you will be glad to hear that I believe that the coming of this Mission of ours, and the results of its work, will be of very considerable importance to the Allied cause.

          Everything which we have recommended since the month of April has now been recommended by the Mission, or will be pushed there as soon as they arrive in Washington, which will be about the 16th. or 17th.

          Admiral Benson is so thoroughly convinced of our necessities on this side that he declares he will send over every destroyer that can get across the ocean under her own power or by being towed. He will also send over all the other vessels that we have asked for as soon as they can possibly be despatched. This, including, I believe, eighteen powerful sea-going tugs.

          All members of the commission have expressed themselves as very well satisfied with the activities the find on this side, and are all determined to give us all the help they can in all respects.

          Of course I find on my desk a large mass of business that has accumulated during my absence but I don’t see anything in the way at present to prevent me accepting your kind invitation to be with you on Christmas. However, in my peculiar position there is no certainty about anything very far in the future.

          While in France I went with Admiral Benson to visit our bases at Brest, St. Nazaire and Bordeaux, and also the Air Stations now being built. Two of the latter are in operation. I believe this visit will result in a better understanding between our forces at Brest and the forces operating elsewhere.

          It was while at Brest that I received the distressing news of the loss of Bagley’s boat the JACOB JONES. At present we know that five officers and thrityeight men were saved, and that one boat is still missing. I sincerely hope that more of the people will be accounted for later. I am glad indeed to hear that my friend Bagley was saved with nearly all the officers.2

          Please give all my best love to the ONLY NIECE3 and believe me,

     Very sincerely yours,

Source Note: TL, DLC-MSS, William Sims Papers, box 47. Following the close, the letter is addressed, “Admiral Sir Lewis Bayly,/Admiralty House,/Queenstown, Ireland”.

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: Lt. Cmdr. David W. Bagley was the Captain of JACOB JONES when the ship was struck by a torpedo and sunk by the German submarine U-53 on 6 December 1917. Bagley with the brother of Addie Worth Daniels (neé Bagley), the wife of Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels. Of the 110 man crew, 62 perished, including 2 officers. For a detailed account of the sinking, see: Bagley to Sims, 10 December 1917.

Footnote 3: Bayly’s niece, Miss Violet Voysey

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