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Vice Admiral William S. Sims, Commander, United States Naval Forces Operating in European Waters, to Rear Admiral William Fullam, Commander, United States Pacific Fleet, Division Two

February 20th. 1918.   

My dear old “Gloom”,

     Your letter of January 20th,1 just received and I was glad indeed to hear from you. If Admiral Benson will consent to let young Gower go,2 I will be very glad to have him on this side and can make very good use of him.

     When Benson came over to this side,3 he was rather surprised, I think, to see what an organization we had accumulated, and as he could not go into the duties of each individual he more or less naturally concluded the opinion that there were too many officers in Europe. As a matter of fact we have not got as many as we need and they are arriving by nearly every steamer for the various kinds of duties that are piling up over here.

     Perhaps if you catch Benson on on[e] of his good days, he may let the young man go. He is up against a very serious problem, and I think he works himself entirely too hard over all sorts of details. He is so durned honest and wants to do the very best for everything and everybody, that he is willing to do this work in the interest of efficiency. I have always believed that if you can get competent assistants and put it up to them you will get better results by letting them run all except the important matters. However, I suppose a good deal of this temperamental.

     What you say about the probable employment of rear-admirals during this war, is I believe, quite true. I cannot see any military reasons which are at all likely to bring about a battle of the heavy forces, particularly as the Grand Fleet has been reinforced by five of our vessels.4 Undoubtedly, the effort of the Navy Department will be confined to increasing the anti-submarine forces over here. We have pretty much all those now available, but if the war last until fall, we will have nearly twice as many as we have now, and many more if it lasts longer.

     Of course the whole business depends upon the anti-submarine campaign. This can be defeated only by either chasing the submarine off the ocean or building ships much faster than he can sink them. You may be sure that we are bending all our energies to down the festive Hun.

     You will doubtless also be interested to know that our destroyers have been doing very excellent work on this side. The British with whom they are operating very freely acknowledge that they are just as efficient in this kind of work as their own boats, although our boats have certain tactical defects from which theirs are free.

     We are building 267 new destroyers and 100 small destroyers of about 500 tons making 20 knots. If the war lasts long enough for all these to be commissioned, what shall we do with them after the war?

     Please give my best regards to Mrs. Fullam5 and the girls, and believe me,

Always very sincerely yours,     

Source Note: LT, DLC-MSS, William S. Sims papers, Box 23. Document is found in: “Vice Admiral Sim’s Personal File.” Addressed below close: “Rear Admiral W.F.Fullam, U.S.N/U.S.S.OREGON/c/o Postmaster./New York. U.S.A.”

Footnote 1: The document referred to have not been found.

Footnote 2: Adm. William S. Benson, Chief of Naval Operations, and Asst. Paymaster William Gower.

Footnote 3: Benson traveled to Britain and France in November and December 1917 as the Navy’s official representative on the diplomatic mission led by Edward M. House.

Footnote 4: Under the command of RAdm. Hugh Rodman, Battleship Division 9 had recently been ordered to operate with the British Grand Fleet.

Footnote 5: Mariana Winder Fullam (neé Robinson).