Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Vice Admiral William S. Sims, Commander, United States Naval Forces Operating in European Waters, to Commander Powers Symington, Commander, USS Tacoma

London, S.W.                   

July 4th, 1917.

       Symington

My dear "Weary",

                            Your letter of May 21st. just received.1 I do not know why it should have been more than a month reaching me but it came in the mail this morning.

                            I thank you very sincerely for your congratulations upon my temporary promotion to Vice Admiral.2 It is a good thing and will help along my present job for you know that Rear Admirals are thicker than fleas in London.

                            I regret very much that you are not here now as Naval Attache. I am sure I need not explain what I mean by this.3 We could work together to the greatest possible advantage. There are some people with whom it is impossible to do the kind of work that I would like to do.

                            Concerning the British Officers you mention, I know most of them, but I am glad to have your estimate of the kind of men they are. I may say, however, that conditions have almost entirely changed since you were over here. There is not the slightest attempt of secretiveness on the part of any official I have come in contact with. Not only will they give you everything in the completest detail which you ask for, but they will volunteer any information they think will be useful to you. They will do this same thing for any officers that come over here and a number have been here already. We are working together as Allies in all respects and the relations between them and our people are everything that could possibly be desired.

                            My personal relations with the Admiralty and with all of its officials are most gratifying. Of course Jellicoe4 is an old friend and I believe I am completely in his confidence. I also find all my relations with Admiral Duff, Halse and Dreyer5 to be very satisfactory. Dreyer is now D.N.C.6 and is a very able man. He is cooperating in every way with us and we with him. He gives us every single thing that we want and we give him everything we think will be useful to him. As said before the same pertains with everybody.   

                            In addition to this the relations of our people at the Front, that is the Destroyer Flotilla with the similar vessels of the British Navy are perfectly splendid. They are serving under Vice Admiral Sir Lewis Bayly.7 You probably know his reputation as a fire eater and a difficult man but we find him one of the ablest, one of the most agreeable and one of the most popular men with his subordinates that we have ever come across. He has, however, a faculty of being in a mild row with the Admiralty at nearly all tim[e]s, but we think this has disappeared for the war. I also enjoy the best possible relations with the First Lord, Sir Edward Carson.

                            I wish I had time to write you a really gossipy letter about things over here, but my time is very thoroughly taken up principally due to the lack of sufficient staff. The Navy Department has not seen fit to send me the men I asked for but they may wake up before long.

                            I fancy you know the military situation over here about as well as I do. There has been some difficulty in making the people at home realize what kind of a war this is but I have reason to believe that they are now thoroughly alive to it.

Very sincerely yours,      

Commander Powers Symington, U.S.N.

 U.S.S.Tacoma

 C/o Postmaster,

 New York, U.S.A.

P.S. I should not be surprised if vessels of the Tacoma class were ordered over here at any time.8

Source Note: Cy, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517B. The heading "ADMIRAL SIMS' PERSONAL FILE." appears at the top of each page, along with the notation "1"/J."

Footnote 1:This letter has not been found.

Footnote 2: See: House Resolution 3330, 22 May 1917.

Footnote 3: The Naval Attaché at London was Capt. William D. MacDougall. Sims and MacDougall had a strained relationship, in part due to opposition to the latter from some in the British Admiralty. Sims replaced MacDougall as Naval Attaché in December 1917. Still, Crisis at Sea: 34.

Footnote 4: First Sea Lord Adm. Sir John R. Jellicoe.

Footnote 5: RAdm. Alexander L. Duff, Assistant Chief of Naval Staff; Third Sea Lord RAdm. Sir Lionel Halsey; and Capt. Frederic C. Dreyer, Director of Naval Ordnance.

Footnote 6: Director of Naval Communications, a duty that Dyer held in addition to Director of Ordnance.

Footnote 7: Bayly served as Commander, Southern Ireland.

Footnote 8: Tacoma began service as a convoy escort shortly after this, making a total of five trips to Europe.