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 Vice Admiral Ferdinand de Bon, Chief of Staff, Ministry of Marine

30th July 1917.         

Dear Sir:-

          I desire to express my appreciation of the many courtesies extended to me by the various officials of the Ministry of Marnie [i.e., Marine] during the recent Conference at Paris.1

          Although I am making my head quarters for the present in London, I hope the Ministry of Marine will always consider me, and the various officers under my command, entirely at its service and in fact, as active members of the staff of the Ministry of Marine.

          I also desire that the Ministry of Marine in considering any naval operations will always look upon the United States Naval Forces in exactly the same manner as if they were actual units of the French Naval Service.

          It is my policy that the general nature of all operations to be performed by U.S. Forces in French waters or based on French Ports should be indicated by the Ministry of Marine in the same manner as if these forces were actually French forces.

          Captain Jackson2 will remain permanently in the Ministry of Marine as my personal staff representative, and he will always be ready to communicate to me or to the U.S. forces in French waters, any wishes of the Ministry.

          I am particularly anxious that any desires of the Ministry of Marine as regards operations of U.S. Forces should be carried out promptly and without delay.

          Captain Jackson will be responsible for keeping me informed, as may be necessary, and also for imparting the wishes of the Ministry to the various officers in command of the forces afloat.

          The bases being established on shore at Brest and Bordeaux for the forces afloat, will be under the general direction and command of the senior officer afloat – Captain Fletcher,3 who has taken up his head quarters ashore at Brest. At both Brest and Bordeaux a naval officer has been assigned in immediate charge of the base repair and supply facilities together with paymasters as assistants. These bases being solely for the service of the forces afloat, will, as stated above, be under the immediate command of the senior office[r] commanding these forces.

          Please permit me to express my admiration for the efficient and gallant service being performed by the French Navy. I trust that the U. S. Forces will prove equal to the traditions of the French service and that the co-operation between our two services will prove perfect in every respect.

Very sincerely yours,        

WM. S. SIMS            

 Vice Admiral, U.S.N.   

Source Note: Cy, DNA, RG 125, Entry 30, Box 246. Addressed below close: “Chief of Staff,/Ministry of Marine,/Paris.” This letter was introduced as evidence in the Court of Inquiry for Adm. William B. Fletcher, held in 1920. Appended at the bottom of the copy is a note by the Judge Advocate of the proceedings, Capt. Kenneth M. Bennett. It reads: “A true copy/K.M.Burnett.” In his testimony, Fletcher stated that he took this letter to the French Ministry to be the definitive statement of Sims’ policy concerning the operation of American naval forces in France. Ibid., p. 22.

Footnote 1: For more on this conference, see: Sims to Anne Hitchcock Sims, 26 July 1918.

Footnote 2: Capt. Richard H. Jackson, American Naval Representative to the Ministry of Marine.

Footnote 3: Capt. William B. Fletcher, Commander, Special Patrol Squadrons.

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