Vice Admiral Sir Lewis Bayly, Commander, Southern Ireland to Vice Admiral William S. Sims, Commander, United States Naval Forces Operating in European Waters
10 7. 17.
My dear Admiral,
light I am amused. We have had thick mild weather and now a very/gale. Resulted-Baltic about 30 hours late, and one flivver had to come back to refuel her place being taken by one on patrol1 – Russian convoy lost by its armed ship escort and 4 unfortunate destroyers hunting for the convoy on the trackless ocean --- Three oilers ought to have sailed together from here with 4 destroyers, one oiler broke down and will have to wait till I have two destroyers to convoy her.
I sent a telegram to the Admy today naming the four destroyers for the straits, and pointing out that although they want the 1000 tonners for their guns, so do we want them for their fuel capacity.2 But of course the admy would not have called for them unless the case was urgent, so we must do our best without them if they are taken away.
I do not think that the flivvers will be able to be taken seriously for convoy work in the autumn because they will so quickly run out of fuel in these heavy seas. Still we have not enough of the others, and they have lots of pluck.3
Don’t you know the feeling at chess when you lose your Queen, and think it no use going on, and then you go on, and – win. I would suggest that the word convoy is being used too generally. There is a difference between a convoy carrying troops and one carrying cargoes. A troop convoy bound for “say Lisbon” has to close on the port before entering, whereas a cargo convoy unusually consists of ships going to several different ports.
Again a troop convoy usually consists of about 4 ships; a cargo convoy of about 16. and therefore the rules for them when they get separated from their escort, (which could be carefully worked out and issued before sailing) should be somewhat different. We are still smiling over here; hope you are the same. The Niece wants to know when you are coming over for a rest cure. I am sorry Carson is gone; I prefer to make no remark about W.C.4
Source Note: TDS, DLC-MSS, William S. Sims Papers, Box 22.
Footnote 1: “Flivver” was the nickname for the 700-750-ton destroyers of the Smith and Paulding classes. The word was period slang for a small, inexpensive car and was a reference to the vessels’ diminutive stature compared to the newer 1,000-ton destroyers, beginning with Cassin. Still, Crisis at Sea: 309.
Footnote 2: “1,000 tonners” was the nickname for the generation of broken-deck destroyers of the Cassin, Aylwin, O’Brien, Tucker, and Sampson classes. These destroyers made up the majority of the fleet at Queenstown when Bayly wrote this letter. "1000 Ton Desteroyers," Destroyer History Foundation, accessed on 3 July 2017, http://destroyerhistory.org/early/1000tonners/.
Footnote 3: The first numbered 1,000-tonner, Cassin, carried approximately 27,000 more gallons of oil than the last numbered flivver Jenkins. This represented nearly a 30% increase in fuel capacity. Ships Data November 1916.
Footnote 4: Bayly’s niece was Miss Violet Voysey. "Carson" refers to First Lord of the Admiralty Sir Edward Carson, and "W. C." the Imperial War Cabinet.