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Vice Admiral Lewis Bayly, R.N. to Vice Admiral William S. Sims, Commander, United States Naval Forces in European Waters


Admiralty House,


19. 7. 17.

My dear Admiral,

     The telegrams1 certainly give me an idea of what you are going through, they are also extremely interesting. It is not extraordinary that there are people who do not understand that your destroyers here are between your country and the enemy.2

The next few weeks will teach a lot of people a lot about convoys that they don’t know at present. I wonder you don’t take the Hamburg America3 building in Cockspur Street and establish an office there if it is big enough. I see it is for sale, and they will have to give you the staff you ask for.

When are you coming for a few days rest, we play cricket after supper on Sundays and the U S A are beginning to think there is something in the game after all.

Why not come after you return from Paris, let the telegrams answer themselves.

Yours always.

Sgd – Lewis Bayly.

Source Note: TLS, DLC-MSS, William Sims Papers, Container 22. A cataloging note at the top of the page reads “Admiral Sims/Personal File.”

Footnote 2: Bayly is referring to a debate within the Navy over the best use of its resources. In a letter to Secretary of State Robert Lansing, which he forwarded to Sims, Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels laid out America’s priorities for its naval forces. While Daniels emphasized the “heartiest cooperation” between the U.S. and the Allies, he also stressed the need for America to keep its fighting fleet intact. Daniels, and the Wilson Administration as a whole, also worried about protecting American waters from attack by German U-boats. Sims countered that the best way to protect American waters was to take the battle to the enemy in Europe. This would strain Germany’s resources and reduce its capacity to strike across the Atlantic. Sims also challenged the idea that America should look out for its own interests first, arguing that the foremost American interest was an Allied victory, and that it was well worth dividing up naval assets-even if it meant putting some of them under British control-to defeat the Central Powers. See: Daniels to Lansing, 3 July 1917, and Sims to Daniels, 16 July 1917.

Footnote 3: The Hamburg-Amerika Linie Building, which was subsequently renamed the P. & O. Building.

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