Vice Admiral William S. Sims, Commander, United States Naval Forces Operating in European Waters, to Rear Admiral Henry B. Wilson, Commander, United States Patrol Forces Based in France
December 20th, 1917.
My dear Wilson,
I am returning under separate cover the little book you let me have entitled, “LET US KILL THE WAR”.1 I have just finished reading it and agree with all its views completely. They are, however, not at all original, as I have understood that the object on both sides of the water has been to push along this business of the air services with the maximum possible rapidity.
I rather fancy that this little book is in effect an advertisement of the Caproni aeroplane engine.
I have asked the Department to keep me informed of the progress of the Liberty engine as there are numerous enquiries on this side as to its success. I am glad to be able to say that all official accounts to date are exceedingly gratifying. The engine has succeeded and has only developed one or two minor defects that are easily corrected, and it is now, or will be very soon, under production in large numbers.
You doubtless know by this time that some of our convoys have had an exceedingly rough time of it, and in some cases become scattered while hove to, to such an extent that they could not be collected again and had to be dispersed make the best of their way to port. This resulted in no losses reported up to date.
We have no word of any considerable damage to any of our destroyers. We have news today that the DUNCAN was at by a sub-marine while standing by a British destroyer that was in some trouble. She had lost two of her three smoke pipes. They were just south of Lands End at the time. Four other British destroyers have arrived in Devonport somewhat the worse for wear. Some of these destroyers have been on the job for three years.
I suppose we cannot hope to get through the anticipated bad weather of January, February and March without a few black eyes, but our boats seem to be holding out pretty well at present.
I am hoping that some more of the big destroyers will be sent over to this side in the immediate future. I hope so, as I want to send some more down to Brest and among them one of the big destroyers with a captain of as extended experience as possible.
I am hoping that some more of the big destroyers will be sent over to this side in the immediate future. I hope so, as I want to send some more down to Brest and among them one
I have just returned this morning from a visit of one day to our division that is now with the Grand Fleet. I find them all in very fair condition, and very glad to be on this job. They were using all of the signals and methods of the other people with great success. All hands in the two Services seemed to be pleased with each other and getting along famously.
Please give my regards to old John Halligan and the rest of the gang.2
Always sincerely yours,
Rear Admiral H.B. Wilson,
U.S. Patrol Squadron,
B r e s t.
P.S. As soon as I returned I took steps to get your young man appointed in the reserves and hope to put it through before long.
Source Note: LTS, DLC-MSS, William Sims Papers, Box 23.
Footnote 1: Nino Salvaneschi, Let Us Kill the War: Let Us Aim At the Heart of the Enemy! (Milan: Art Edition of Bianco e Nero, 1917). In this book, Salvaneschi advocates the use of new aviation technology to engage in massive bombing attacks against German and Austro-Hungarian targets, including military installations, factories, farms, and cities and towns in order to effect a quick and immediate end to the war.
Footnote 2: Capt. John Halligan served as Wilson’s Chief of Staff.