Vice Admiral Sir Lewis Bayly, Commander, Southern Ireland, to Vice Admiral William S. Sims, Commander, United States Naval Forces Operating in European Waters
My dear Admiral,
Thank you for all your news, something will surely be doing before long after all your energetic explanations of the situation.1 The scheme you speak of, that finds S/Ms by vibrations seems thoroughly sound, and ought to prove a success, which the hydrophone on board ship is I think a long way from being. As regards convoy; if all our merchant ships had W/T2 a gun, and at least 12 knots: and if we had enough destroyers to patrol from Tuskar to 16° W constantly,3 leaving enough at sea to spare so that all valuable ships could be escorted in addition to the patrols, then I am against convoys: and I would have a lane of shipping, of which the lane itself was continually patrolled, and in which every valuable ship would be escorted, and which lane could be shifted every 4 or 5 days or on exceptional pressure by W/T. But allowing for the number of German S/Ms & the number of our merchant ships, and remembering that many of the latter are very slow though carrying valuable cargoes, and seeing that the number of destroyers must be limited, I am reluctantly compelled to allow that the present situation calls for convoy. But it will require very careful handling, for though a well worked well escorted convoy is the best thing at present; so a badly escorted convoy will be the worst.
As soon as the Germans are awake to the fact that we are using convoys along this track, they will work their S/Ms in pairs or threes and I shall counter by asking to be allowed to
precede accompany our convoys with our S/Ms between 17° and 11° W.
I quite believe that there are certain intriguers in London who wish to get back into power for the sake of the personal ambition, and seeing their chance in the anxiety of the War Council to have pleasant things told them (vide Ahab before Ramoth Gilead) are working on the War Council to get Jellicoe4 removed so that they and theirs can get into his place. And W. Churchill5 is probably the chief of these. But if Jellicoe can be persuaded to keep his health, by avoiding late dinners, violent exercise, too much thought about any one particular thing, he will defeat them because he has the confidence of the country behind him. I hardly know the Second Sea Lord,6 if he is strong, loyal, & able then he will form a tower of strength & keep these damned swine from their deceitful endeavors.
The new six destroyers are dining here tonight; Leake7 seems first rate; Pringle8 is 100% and your boys are shaping splendidly. We had a game of tip and run on the lawn on Sunday after supper –
America v England
Daniel Lady Pinkey (my cousin)
Wortham Watkins Grubb
They had never played before and made 16 runs to our 2! Next match next Sunday, it takes a week to get the turf right.
Don’t forget that this is your real home from home; your stick is always in the hall. The niece sends her love she has gone to Blarney.
Yours very sincerely
Source Note: ALS, DLC-MSS, William Sims Papers, Box 47. This letter is written on stationary with “Admiralty House,/Queenstown” printed in the top right corner of each page.
Footnote 1: Throughout the month of June, Sims had continually sent letters and cables to Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels and Adm. William S. Benson, Chief of Naval Operations, (among others) requesting the Navy send over as many vessels-especially destroyers-as possible to help combat the German submarine threat. Sims had many supporters in Britain on this point, and leading British officials communicated similar wishes to the United States during this period as well. See. for example: Sims to Daniels, 20 and 28 June 1917.
Footnote 2: That is, wireless/telegraphic communication.
Footnote 3: Tuskar Rock, on the southeastern coast of Ireland. 16° West longitude is located some distance off the west coast of Ireland.
Footnote 4: First Sea Lord Adm. Sir John R. Jellicoe.
Footnote 5: Minister of Munitions Sir Winston Churchill. From 1911 to 1915, Churchill had served as First Lord of the Admiralty, but was demoted from the position upon the formation of Prime Minister H. H. Asquith’s coalition government in May 1915, primarily due to the disastrous results of the Gallipoli campaign, of which Churchill was one of the principal political and military engineers.
Footnote 6: Adm. Sir Cecil Burney.
Footnote 7: Commo. Francis M. Leake.
Footnote 8: Cmdr. J. R. Poinsett Pringle, Chief of Staff, Destroyer Flotillas.