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 Rear Admiral Leigh C. Palmer, Chief of the Bureau of Navigation

February 26th. 1918.

My dear Palmer,

          Babcock1 has not yet returned, but I have had several notes from him, and I am again impressed for the ‘steenth time with the great value of the work that you have been doing since we entered into the war. I must say that I do not envy you your job. I freely confess that it would have sent me crazy long ago. It is such a comfort and relief from anxiety for those who bear the responsibility on this side, to know that we can rely upon you fellows on the other side, particularly in your Bureau, to help us out when we are in trouble.

          As far as I can see, everything in reference to the personnel is now going along as nicely as possible. We can handle the training situation on this side and can keep the new destroyers supplied with tolerably efficient men as fast as they come out.

          I doubt whether you can really understand how much it means to us over here to be supported in the way that you have been supporting us. There is only one piece of advice that I feel inclined to give you and any of the other people in the Navy Department. From time to time we hear, either through correspondence or through people coming over here,that so-and-so has said “Why in the devil don’t those chaps on the other side do so-and-so?”. When incidents like this occur a number of times there is liable to crop up an irritated feeling. What I would like would be for everybody concerned, instead of blowing off a growl like that, to call a stenographer and put it on paper and send it over to us. Paste us good and hard when you think we are wrong, and it will not make any difference. We cannot improve our methods unless we know where they are wrong, or where you fellows think they are wrong. Don’t hesitate to fire criticisms over here. Often we can explain them away. Always we will be ready to correct mistakes. We are in the position of the proprietor of an hotel who wants to have an efficient establishment but who cannot get at the complaints made by his patrons.

          Good luck to you and remain cheerful,

Always very sincerely yours,      

Source Note: TCy, DLC-MSS, William S. Sims Papers, Box 77. Addressed below close: “Rear Admiral L.C.Palmer, U.S.N./Chief of Bureau of Navigations,/Navy Dept./Washington.D.C.”

Footnote 1: Cmdr. John V. Babcock, Sims’ aide, who had returned to the United States to consult with officials in Washington.

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