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Secretary of War Newton D. Baker to Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels


July 26, 1917

My dear Mr. Secretary:

My attention has been once or twice called to views of Admiral Sims,1 commanding the Destroyer Force in European Waters, on the subject of the utilization of those destroyers in the convoy of our troop transports through the submarine danger zone.

I note that he strongly recommends that “convoys should not follow each other at intervals of less than one week, because if a number arrive in quick succession they will require the absence of a great many destroyers from their patrol area at the same time”.2 It is my determination,—and I have so directed,—that everything possible shall be done to have the movements of our troop ships conform to the wishes of your Department. And, of course, I should not attempt any movement which the Navy Department should find impracticable. But I suggest that in the cordial co-operation which must exist between the two Departments in the movement of these troop ships that the following will receive full consideration.

General Pershing3 and the General Staff of the Army concur in the belief that it is of vital importance to our success to get the maximum number of our troops in France in the minimum time. Our plan is to move not less than one million men from the United States to France by the month of June next; and to this end I am making every effort to secure increased shipping of proper speed. Our success will depend upon a constant schedule of minimum intervals. It is believed that, when all the available tonnage is engaged in this transport service, we can successfully carry out our plan by the despatch of convoys at intervals of one week.

But if at times, in the need of shipping men and ammunition and supplies, it should be of great importance to lessen the interval I hope that it can be arranged so that no other duty assigned to the Naval Destroyers in European Waters need be allowed to interfere with what would seem to be essential and primary duty to afford safe convoy to our troop transports through the submarine danger zone. In other words, I hope that all other plans for their uses may be subordinated to this main object.

Sincerely yours,

Newton D. Baker

Source Note: Cy, DNA, RG 45, 517B. A note in the upper left-hand corner reads: “D6179”. Addressed below close: “Honorable Josephus Daniels,/Secretary of the Navy.”

Footnote 1: VAdm. William S. Sims, Commander, United States Naval Forces Operating in European Waters.

Footnote 2: See: Sims to Daniels, 6 July 1917.

Footnote 3: Maj. Gen. John J. Pershing, Commander, American Expeditionary Forces.

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