Captain Thomas P. Magruder, Commander, Squadron Four, Patrol Force, to Rear Admiral Henry B. Wilson, Commander, United States Patrol Forces Based in France
U. S. NAVAL FORCES OPERATING IN EUROPEAN WATERS
SQAUDRON FOUR, Patrol Force,
U. S. S. GUINEVERE, Flagship.
File C/144 1 January, 1918.
From : Commander Squadron Four.
To : Commander Patrol Force.
Subject: Conference with the C.D.P.L., December 31, 1917.
1. I spent about three hours yesterday conferring, and discussing matters pertaining to the Arrondissement, with the Chef de Patrouilles de la Loire, Captain Saint-Salvy.1 This officer has recently performed duties at Bizerta, Tunis. He was sent here on December 1st to organize the French forces in this district in accordance with the new organization that went into effect on December 1st. Previous to the re-organization the duties were carried on by the Admiral of the Somme and the Prefet Maritime.2
2. The C.D.P.L. has offices in the Arsenal near the Prefet Maritime and will have under him the Bureau of Information, all lines of communication and will direct the operations of all the French forces in this district with the exception of certain convoys.
3. Captain Saint-Salvy gave me some interesting information concerning the personality of the Prefet. He stated in effect that the Prefet belonged to what he called “the old school,” and in consequence, required that everything brought to his attention be in writing. This coincided with my limited experience with the Prefet. He also believed that the Prefet would be agreeable to the establishment here of a Base, provided the matter was placed before the Prefet by a letter from the Commander Patrol Force. Captain Saint-Salvy was insistent that there was need within this district for better communications and co-ordination. He has not yet completed his organization, but is making fair progress. He was particularly desirous that we should establish, or rather, begin to establish, a Base of operations here, in order that plans for operations that need cooperation and co-ordination may go forward without interruption. He is most anxious to forward as much as possible an offensive against submarines acting within this district, and I was particularly impressed with the fact that he seems to be a progressive officer of energy and zeal. He has his pennant hoisted on the PERDREAU, which vessel he intends to use at times for purposes of inspection and at times of emergency, when he may feel it necessary to put to sea.
4. During the discussion we considered all the matters relating particularly to the safe-guarding of the troop transports. He was thoroughly in accord with the idea that the land fall position for Belle Ile should be a position about ten miles west of Baguènéures Light (the southwest light) on Belle Ile, and that we should endeavor to have open at all times not only the La Teignouse Channel, but also a channel between Grougue gués Light and Four Light. In my opinion it is desirable also to keep a channel open between the Four Light and La Banche Light. The reason for this is, of course, obvious, and was brought forcibly to my mind when the thought came to me as to procedure in case the Teignouse Channel was found mined immediately before the arrival of a troop convoy.
5. If a channel is maintained open to the southeast of Belle Ile, it may readily occur that the saving of a day in docking transports may be made, particularly if the transports are met at the entrance to the channel by vessels having St. Nazaire pilots on board. This plan, of course, requires co-ordination between the Army authorities at St. Nazaire, the C.D.P.L. and the escort and convoy commanders.
6. Many other matters of interest and information were furnished me by the C.D.P.L., which I will transmit personally to the Commander Patrol Force on the 2nd inst.
T. P. Magruder.
Source Note: TLS, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517.
Footnote 1: Henri Marie Octave Joseph de Bourdonlce de Saint-Salvy.
Footnote 2: Adm. Y. E. J. Pillet, and VAdm. Marie Paul Louis Jaurès.