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

TRANSL[A]TION             OPERATIONS            O-L-2628

3 1 January 1918   

Vice Admiral Sims

Opnav 2628 Your 34611 (Box) Status of plans is as follows It was referred to War Department which on Janaury [i.e., January] 24th sent following cable to General Pershing2 quote The Bureau of Ordnance Navy Department have prepared plans for three railroad mountings for fourteen-inch fifty-caliber guns and five for seven-inch guns period Fourteen-inch guns can be ready for shipment about June 1st and the seven-inch about September 1st period Ten fourteen-inch guns and twenty seven-inch are now availbale [i.e., available] for railroad mounts period Proportion of four guns to one mount is about same as that used by British period Admiral Sims recommends that United States furnish all necessary personnel including mechanics, engineers, guns crews and all pers<o>nnel required to erect operate and transport batteries period British War Office is desirous to secure these guns period It is desired that careful consideration be given to this matter and recommendation submitted in regard ther[e]to at your earliest convenience both as to desirability of using these guns and the front where they are to be used period Navy guns differ from Army on length fire control signed Biddle3 acting Chief Staff unquote Navy Department waiting reply to that cable period Would it expedite matters for you to communicate this information to War Office and suggest they also get in touch with General Pershing. Navy willing to cooperate every way but anxious place guns where they will do most good at earliest moment.4 22151.


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

Footnote 1: Sims’ cable has not been found.

Footnote 2: Gen. John J. Pershing, Commander, American Expeditionary Force.

Footnote 3: Gen. John Biddle.

Footnote 4: It is not known if Sims contacted Pershing, but the AEF commander did not reply until 23 May 1918 and then requested that the guns be sent to France without delay. Department of the Navy, The United States Naval Railway Batteries in France (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1922), 6. As Sims suggested, the personnel manning the guns were from the U.S. Navy. Ibid. On this same day, Adm. William S. Benson, Chief of Naval Operations, sent a cable announcing that 10 14-inch guns with 5 railroad mounts should be shipped from the United States by 1 June and asked Sims to designate a port in France to which they should be sent. He added that “Personnel and control of operation, whether Army or Navy, alone undecided.” DNA, RG 45, Entry 517B.

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