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Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels to Secretary of War Newton D. Baker


February 15, 1918.          

To:           Secretary of War.

Subject:      Transportation of sick and wounded of American

Expeditionary Forces from Europe to the United States.

Reference: (a) Joint letter of Surgeon General of the Navy and

Surgeon General of the Army under date of February 7, 1918, No. 129680.1

           (b) Secnav letter 14351-4:1 of January 29, 1918.2

     1.   At the request of the Acting Chief of Staff of the Army under date of January 26, 1918,3 the Surgeon General of the Navy, under date of January 29, 1918,4 was directed to confer with the Surgeon General of the Army “with a view to making such recommendations as you believe necessary in order that all questions involved in this memorandum and in previous correspondence on the same subject may be definitely settled.” The concluding paragraph of the report of the Surgeon General of the Army and the Surgeon General of the Navy is as follows: “under the above conditions we recommend that the medical provisions needed in the transport of troops and the transportation of sick and wounded of the Army be entrusted to the Navy.”

     2.   In order that there may be no misunderstanding in this very important subject, I wish to state that the Navy Department stands ready to man and operate any number of hospital ships which may be provided by the War Department, the understanding being that these ships will be in all respects ready for the personnel and for their operation when taken over for this purpose by the Navy; also that in handling the sick the Navy Department assumes responsibility for their care and treatment only during the passage from European ports to such American ports as the War Department may direct, the War Department to be responsible for all patients until they are safely placed on board ship and to be responsible for their removal from the ships after arrival in the United States, and from that time on.

     3.   In this connection attention is invited to the 11th indorsement from the Secretary of the Navy to the Secretary of War under date of January 23, 1918.5

     4.   In order that the Navy Department may be fully prepared to meet the wishes of the War Department, it is requested that information be supplied at the earliest possible date as to the number of hospital ships the Navy will be required to man and the dates on which they will be ready for the personnel.

(Signed) Josephus Daniels.           

Source Note: Cy, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517B. This document is printed on official letterhead for the Bureau of Medicine and Surgery. At the top of the page appears the following document reference numbers: “14381-4:1” and “Op-9-B”.

Footnote 2: This document has not been located.

Footnote 3: Gen. John Biddle. The referenced letter has not been located.

Footnote 4: This document has not been located.

Footnote 5: This document has not been located.