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Vice Admiral William S. Sims, Commander, United States Naval Forces Operating in European Waters, to the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations


Subject Copy.

Cablegram Sent February 2 1918.

To   Opnav Washington        Serial No. 3540    LEM1

Prep. By CS        NCT2    D.R.


V E R Y   S E C R E T

3540. My 3513.3 French steamer PORTO sails from Newcastle February seventeenth for Murmansk, Kola Inlet, Russia, where H M S GLORY is stationed with Admiral Kemp4 in command of station. I have requested reservation on PORTO for twelve marines and one marine officer and Admiralty will give instructions to Admiral Kemp to get the party through to destination on arrival of PORTO. I consider it essential that an officer should be in command of the party for the voyage at any rate and preferably permanently. In case party travels by indicated route think it inadvisable wear civilian clothes. Latter view concurred in by Admiralty. In view of dispatch six three nine two State Department to Ambassador, London,5 marines will not be dispatched unless further instructions are received. 01202


Source Note: Cy, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517B.

Footnote 1: Initials of the transcriber.

Footnote 2: Capt. Nathan C. Twining, Sims’ Chief of Staff.

Footnote 3: Document referred to has not been found. Adm. William S. Benson, Chief of Naval Operations, had recently ordered Sims to detail 12 Marines to guard the American Embassy at Petrograd, and had recommended that they travel in civilian clothes (possibly to avoid the risk of an incident with Bolshevik forces). See: Benson to Sims, 29 January 1918.

Footnote 4: RAdm. Thomas Kemp, R.N.

Footnote 5: United States Ambassador to the United Kingdom, Walter Hines Page. The Allied navies were responding to the possibility of a complete Bolshevik takeover of Murmansk that would jeopardize the Allied war effort. For more information, see, “Chapter II, The Northern Region,” Papers Relating to the Foreign Relations of the United States, 1918, Russia, Vol. 2, (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1931). For the request for the marines, see: William S. Benson to Sims, 29 January 1918. As seen there, they were intended to guard the American Embassy in Petrograd. On 13 February Secretary of State Lansing cancelled the order to dispatch a marine guard to Petrograd. DNA, RG 45, Entry 517B.

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