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

February 15th. 1918.

My dear Pringle,

          Many thanks for your instructive and amusing letter of the 8th. which I received upon my return from Italy on the 13th.1

          I think the difficulty in connection with Berry will resolve itself without any further trouble.2

          With regard to Lyons, I entirely agree with your attitude in the matter and therefore detached him as soon as I came back and will act in accordance with the recommendation of the Medical Board.3 I have been told by people who know him that this is the third occasion upon which he has probably broken down nervously. It may be that he was in such a condition on the occasion in question that he was unable to stay by his ship. If this is established I will simply order him home and report the circumstances. At all events I agree with you that he cannot stay in the force.

          The entente between Uncle Lewis4 and the Admiralty seems now to be in a fair way to work out satisfactorily. About a week ago last Sunday I took lunch with the Jellicoes5 and he mentioned that he intended to go to Queenstown. I have not mentioned the matter to Admiral Wemyss6 but it may come up again.

          As for the question of the club,7 that is all apparently very satisfactory, and I am very glad to know that the Admiral and Miss Voysey8 will go there when there is anything worth seeing. Commander Henderson’s visit to Queenstown will be delayed for some time.9 He did not come back from Italy with us, but remained down there to make some further investigations of a detailed nature. I assume he will be back pretty soon.

          I was much amused by your account of Pollen’s visit.10 He is an entertaining man and he is, as you say very smart, and is perfectly aware of it. One of his most entertaining features is that he is so completely satisfied with himself. That is, it is entertaining to those who can see the humour in the situation this creates. However, I believe that he will do us some good with what he writes about the Flotilla. He is very favorably disposed about <towards> the Americans. He gave some very useful information as to conditions in Washington. I believe he has sufficient tact to get on with Uncle Lewis without any bloodshed. I shall be interested to hear what he has to say when he comes back.

          I enclose herewith a letter from Dr.A.Williams concerning the condition of his wife.11 I have no desire to be harsh in these matters but I would be obliged to you if you would look into this matter and advise me as to what I had better do. I don’t quite like the idea of this lady remaining so long but I told him verbally she might remain until such time as she was considered fit to travel.

          Will you please be so kind as to send me another pair of high shoes No.9½ D. Please ask the Pay Yeoman to pick me out a good looking pair. Sometimes in the packing the box toe is deformed or the leather is scarred.

          Daniels12 informs me that I don’t owe anything to the MELVILLE except possibly something for sugar. If you will have the paymaster13 send me a memorandum of the amount I owe, including the shoes, I will send that amount at once.

          Now I have to tell you of something which has been worrying me for some time, and that is a recurrence of reports or rather rumours, that the MELVILLE is not as efficient as she might be. This is a surprise to me, but the reports have been so continuous and so insistent, that I think it would be well to mention it to you so that you can look into it. It is currently said that the MELVILLE is less efficient now than the DIXIE is. It seems that the complaints centre around the official actions of the Executive Officer14 and the Paymaster. They are not of any definite nature except that these two officers are less successful in facilitating work and avoiding friction than they might be.

          The point I would like to make is this, that although as far as you can see these officers are carrying out their duties efficiently, still some change should be made in the manner or method of carrying out their duties which will cause the criticisms to cease. I feel quite sure that if there is anything in this you will be able to dig it out.

                   Very sincerely yours,

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

Footnote 1: Pringle’s letter to Sims on this date has not been located. Sims had just returned from a meeting of the Allied Naval Council in Rome on 8 and 9 February.

Footnote 2: Cmdr. Robert L. Berry, commanding officer of the United States destroyer Manley. As Pringle reported in previous dispatches to Sims, Berry had come into conflict with the leader of a convoy he was to escort to Queenstown (Berry’s first time in doing so) that resulted in a tense radio exchange concerning who responsible for the fact that the escort for Berry missed meeting the convoy by nearly 24 hours. For more on this matter, see: Pringle to Sims, 29 January 1918.

Footnote 3: Possibly Capt. Timothy A. Lyons. It is uncertain what matter raised by Pringle that Sims is discussing, and thus to whom, exactly this paragraph refers.

Footnote 4: Adm. Sir Lewis Bayly, Commander-in-Chief, Naval Forces, Southern Ireland.

Footnote 5: Former First Sea Lord Adm. Sir John R. Jellicoe and his wife, Florence Gwendoline (neé Cayzer).

Footnote 6: Adm. Sir Rosslyn Wemyss replaced Jellicoe as First Sea Lord on 31 December 1917.

Footnote 7: A proposed extension of the Naval Men’s Club at Queenstown had been recently completed, allowing for more sailors and officers to attend and providing for greater entertainment options. See: Sims to Josephus Daniels, 14 January 1918 and Pringle to Sims, 29 January 1918.

Footnote 8: Miss Violet Voysey, Bayly’s niece.

Footnote 9: Reginald G. H. Henderson, Naval Assistant to RAdm. Alexander I. Duff, Assistant Chief of the Naval Staff had been invited to Queenstown to learn more about convoying procedures.

Footnote 10: Arthur J. H. Pollen was a British naval contractor turned journalist for the influential magazine Land and Water. Pollen was known for his critical appraisal of the British effort to combat German submarines and his intricate knowledge of the British Admiralty. Barry D. Hunt, Sailor-Scholar: Admiral Sir Herbert Richmond, 1871-1946 (Ontario: Wilfrid Laurier University Press, 1982), 60.

Footnote 11: Williams’ letter is no longer with this document. Dr. Williams has not been further identified.

Footnote 12: Lt. Joseph F. Daniels, Sims’ liaison with the destroyer flotilla at Queenstown.

Footnote 13: Assistant Paymaster Dallas B. Wainwright, Jr.

Footnote 14: :Cmdr. Henry B. Price.

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