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Vice Admiral William S. Sims, Commander, United States Naval Forces Operating in European Waters to Commander Joel R. Poinsett Pringle


July 31, 1917

My dear Pringle.

          Your telegram concerning Castle and Robinson1 received yesterday. Of course, it would be a splendid thing if these two clever young men could visit Queenstown before they return, but they are sailing today for home.

          The reason they are off so soon, and without visiting Queenstown, is that they came to me yesterday, upon their return from a tour of various ports and the Grand Fleet, and told me that in their opinion they should get back to America as soon as possible, and tell our people about the number of things they found in the Grand Fleet in which we are very distinctly inferior. This includes such fundamentally important things as fire control, concentration,2 and so forth. To their astonishment, they found that the British are very distinctly in advance of us in the application of electricity to fire control. They were so much concerned about it that they insisted they should return at once, and, of course, I ordered them.

          Long arrived this morning, and he has already had the effect of clearing the atmosphere. We expect Twining and Ancrum3 tomorrow or next day. Berrien and Blakelee4 are expected about a week later. It is my present intention to send Berrien up to command a destroyer, as I know that is what he wants, and he will be more use there than here, as he is not a paper man.

Yours sincerely,

Source Note: LTS, DNA, RG 45, Entry 520, Box 413. Addressed below close: “Captain J.R.P.Pringle,/U.S.S.MELVILLE.”

Footnote 1: Lt. Cmdr. Guy W. Castle and Capt. Samuel M. Robison were dispatched by the Bureaus of Ordnance and Steam Engineering to learn more about British naval methods. Pringle's telegram to Sims about their vist has not been located, but for more details on their mission, see: Sims to Anne Hitchcock Sims, 30 July 1917.

Footnote 2: That is, Concentration of fire.

Footnote 3: Cmdr. Byron A. Long, who became the head of the Convoy Operations Section on Sims' staff, Capt. Nathan C. Twining, Sims’ Chief of Staff, and Lt. William Ancrum, who assisted Long in the Operations Section.

Footnote 4: Lt. Cmdr. Frank D. Berrien commanded the destroyer Nicholson, and Lt. Edward G. Blakeslee, the head of Sims' Communications Section.