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Vice Admiral William S. Sims, Commander, United States Naval Forces Operating in European Waters, to Officers Under His Command



on duty under


<2> JUL 1917


The paramount purpose of all duty performed during this war must invariably be the maximum degree of co-operation with our Allies in its prosecution.

Our attitude and efforts must be on the assumption that Allied and U.S.Services are one and the same service.1

It is our duty to supply our forces here and elsewhere with all information based on war experience, which may in any way increase their efficiency and preparedness for all possible future war service or emergencies. But under no circumstances must the service of obtaining technical or general information be made paramount to, or be allowed to interfere in the slightest degree with the primary purposes above stated.

Any information concerning our own experience, or concerning our service materiel, which may be of any value to Allied services should be freely given.

All officers should adopt the mental attitude that their responsibilities are those of the Force Commander, and should never hesitate to advise him or bring any subjects to his attention which they consider should be known to him or acted upon by him.

Speaking generally, the Force Commander desires to avoid all details which can be handled without his personal attention or direction.

          If officers have subjects which they consider require the Force Commander’s action either by cable or letter, they should, as a rule, prepare in rough draft the cable or letter as they think it should be in its final form. Likewise suggestions as to plans or other propositions should as a rule be drawn up in written rough draft form, as such procedure generally is economical of time and conduces to clearness of interpretation.

Reports not requiring the immediate action of the Force Commander should be prepared and signed by the officer making them and submitted to the Force Commander with recommendations as to whom and how they should be forwarded or disseminated.

Officers will be assembled in Force Commander’s Office as often as practicable to report briefly concerning their activities. Lengthy detailed discussion must be avoided, the sole purpose of the conference being to avoid duplication of work and to insure co-ordination.



Source Note: Cy, DNA, RG45, Entry 517, Box 678. The letter was originally stamped “3 – JUL 1917” but someone has crossed out the 3 and written a 2 above it. They also wrote “July 2 1917.” at the top of the first page. There is a small 2 in the upper right-hand corner of the second page.

Footnote 1: Sims’ attitude towards Allied cooperation created difficulties for him with Washington. Sims called for abandoning “national pride” and focusing all efforts on Allied victory. He consistently sided with the British on points of conflict, to the point that President Woodrow Wilson commented that he should wear a Royal Navy uniform; Still, Crisis at Sea: 13, 25.

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