Lieutenant Kenneth Whiting, Commander, First Aeronautic Detachment, to Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels
AMERICAN EMBASSY, PARIS
COPY OF TELEGRAM
July 7th, 1917.
Quote. After an inspection of nearly the entire coast from Dunkirk to point near the Spanish border in company with senior aviation officer in Navy Department and Conger, and a mature consideration of the situation from every point of view; strategic offensively and defensively for protection of shipping against submarine attack, logistics, labor, food and material supply, land and water transportation, existing communication facilities and possible and necessary extensions, and the needs and ability of the French, I have agreed with them to the following disposition of 1st. Aeronautic Detachment: one station mouth of Loire, one station mouth of Gironde, one station Dunkirk, one station at Lacanau Lake near Bordeaux for firing and training school. Stop. Men under instruction fifty for pilots at Tours, thirty-eight for machinist and fourteen for observers at Saint-Raphael, will furnish pilots and observers for beginning. Organization of Detachment is not well balanced. For each pilot ten men are necessary, mechaniciens, helpers, ha<n>dlers, carpenters, fabric workers, radio operators, etc…. Details are in possession of Captain B.L.Smith, Marine Corps and French Naval Attache. First stations will be built and furnished with equipment by French at first. Stations are to be manned, operated and administered entirely by Americans. Stations being widely separated, and communication undertain [i.e., uncertain] each should be a complete unit, with pay-officer, doctor and staff as for 200 men as on ship.
Many more officers are necessary, at least four urgently needed at once. Request sending of Reed, Corey, Bartlett and Spencer immediately. Supply and financial problems are involved and difficult. Very urgently request revocation of Conger modified orders July 3rd. He is thoroughly conversant with situation. His detachment now means handicap and set backs. Request that another supply officer be ordered in his place to Brest.
The submarine situation is of no vital importance that too much cannot be done nor can it be done too quickly and I urgently recommend that our Navy adopt the plan suggested in the letter now in possession of Captain B.L.Smith, U.S.Marine Corps, and the French Naval Attache at Washington, and that I be advised immediately of the Department’s wishes.
A detailed report follows. Action should be taken without awaiting its arrival. Smith well informed as to details. Whiting. Unquote. Forwarded. Earnestly request careful consideration and approval. 18012. Sayles.
Source Note: Cy, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517B. The first three lines of the heading, until the date, are repeated on both pages of the copy. On the top of the second page, after “SENT” is the message’s identifying number “362.” This cable was sent for Whiting by the American Naval Attaché at Paris, Cmdr. William R. Sayles, who added the plea for action at the end of the cable, immediately before his name.