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

Opnav Washington,                       Jan. 4, 1918 MJK

CS        COS1          2669

18 D.                   

2669.     Personal for Admiral Benson.  First Lord informs me King2 enquired as to decision concerning my appointment honorary member Admiralty Board. This honorary membership would in no sense change my present position but would permit my attending all meetings at which important matters are discussed. I would of course have no voice and decisions would not interfere with our freedom of action. The personal message sent upon suggestion Sir Eric Geddes who believes appointment would not only result in increased efficiency of cooperation but would have good effect.3


Source Note: Cy, DLC-MSS, William S. Sims Papers, Box 49.

Footnote 1: “COS” and “CS” both refer to Sims’ chief of staff, Capt. Nathan C. Twining.

Footnote 2: British King George V; and First Lord of the Admiralty, Sir Eric Geddes.

Footnote 3: Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels ordered Sims to refuse the posting, and any further awards from foreign government. Sims later complained that being forced to turn down honoraria from Allied governments was an “embarrassment to him,” Naval Investigation, 2645. Sims wrote to his wife:

I think I wrote to you that the British government proposed that they appoint an honorary member of the Board of the Admiralty- This was cabled home while [William S.] Benson was here and the answer came back that the President declined it. The cable did not state that I could be appointed only by the King, and not the King had agreed to appoint me Both Col. [Edward] House and Benson thought best to let the matter rest until there returned home, and the First Lord, Sir Eric Geddes, was so informed. When I returned from Queenstown, Sir Eric sent for me and suggested that I telegraph personally to Benson and state that the King had enquired of Sir Eric as to whether an answer had been received and to state that it was still considered desirable. This I did a few days ago—3 days—but no answer has been received yet. They want me (Sir Eric does) to be a member of the Board so that I will be in touch with everything—and possible for such influence as I might assert. He also thinks that it would have a good effect both here and at home. It appears that many British officers are in favor of it. . . .No foreigner has ever been a member of the Board, so it would be quite a distinguished honor. It seems curious that the President should decline such a distinction offer to one of his officers. We have no idea what his reasons were for declining. DLC-MSS, William S. Sims Papers, Box 9.

Also, see: Benson to Sims, 8 January 1918.

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