Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Vice Admiral William S. Sims, Commander, United States Naval Forces Operating in European Waters, to Captain Joel R. Poinsett Pringle, Chief of Staff, Destroyer Flotillas

U. S. NAVAL FORCES OPERATING IN EUROPEAN WATERS

U.S.S. MELVILLE, FLAGSHIP.

TELEPHONE, VICTORIA 9110           30 GROSVENOR GARDENS,

CABLE ADDRESS, “SIMSADUS”          LONDON, S.W. 1.

REFERENCE No.

December 15, 1917.

FROM: Force Commander,

TO  : Chief of Staff, Destroyer Flotillas.

SUBJECT: Attacks on United States destroyers by German submarines.

     1.   The Force Commander has reason to believe that until very recently German submarines have had instructions to devote their principal attention to cargo vessels, and so far as United States transports were concerned, to confine their attention largely to empty transports homeward-bound.

     2.   Trustworthy information is, however, now at hand which indicates the probability that these instructions have been modified, and that more effort will, from now on, be made to attack our destroyers and other vessels.

     3.   It has been stated by some prisoners from German submarines that they feared the American destroyers less than the British. There are various improbable reasons given for this statement, but there is a very sound reason in the fact that our destroyers have a much larger turning circle than the British.

     4.   You will please convey to all destroyers the Force Commander’s desire that special vigilance to be exercised from now on, and that particular care be taken to see that the vessels are ready for offensive action against the enemy at all times while at sea.1

/s/ WM. S. SIMS.

Source Note: Cy, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517B. Document is on stationary so that all the text to the date is printed. Addressed below close: “Copy to:/Brest,/Gibraltar.” The signature is a stamp.

Footnote 1: This cable may have been prompted by the torpedoing and sinking of the U.S. destroyer Jacob Jones. See: David W. Bagley’s Report on Sinking of U.S.S. Jacob Jones, after 7 December 1917.

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