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Commander Joel R. Poinsett Pringle, Chief of Staff, Destroyer Flotillas, Instructions Concerning Troopship Convoys

[Queenstown, Ireland] <June 29- 1917>


     (a)  Convoy to consist of groups of four ships. Escort to be four destroyers.

          Ships not to come singly but in groups of four.

     (b)  Rendezvous to be two in number known as first rendezvous and second rendezvous, and to be separated by distance of 200/250 miles. Convoy upon arrival at first rendezvous to steer directly for second rendezvous, destroyer escort to proceed to second rendezvous and steer from there for first rendezvous, thus insuring meeting the convoy on a known line.

     (c)  When junction is made, the commander of the escorting destroyers to take charge and direct course to be steered.

     (d)  No radio signals to be made by convoy, all necessary radio signals to be made by the commander of the escort.

     (e)  In the event of an attack on a convoy, the convoy to use full speed and changes of course, but to keep together.

     (f)  A shore radio station to be designated at or near St. Nazarre to be used for handling messages sent by the commander of the destroyer escort.

     (g)  Channels and approaches should be swept just before arrival of convoy, and if mines are found sweeping should be continued ahead of the convoy when it enters.

     (h)  A pilot or scout should meet the convoy at or near the entrance and give directions about channels which have been swept and are clear of mines.

     (i)  This scout or pilot boat should be prepared to furnish to the escort commander confidential information as to the French mine fields laid at or near the entrance.

     (j)  Under no circumstances should convoy anchor off the entrance over night. If convoy arrives off entrance at night, it should stand out to sea until daylight.

     (k)  Escorting destroyers should pilot convoy into St. Nazarre.

     (l)  A supply of the latest and most accurate charts of St. Nazarre and its vicinity should be obtained. Some of these charts should be furnished the convoy commander for retention and use on board ships comprising the various convoys, and others for the use of destroyers on escort duty.

JRPoinsett Pringle

Source Note: DTS, DNA, RG45, Entry 517. The date was handwritten at the top of the page. No place is given, but as Pringle was the senior officer present for the American destroyers based at Queenstown and was also the American liaison officer with the Queenstown base commander, VAdm. Sir Lewis Bayly, this memorandum undoubtedly originated there. Still, Crisis at Sea: 66-67. As the first troopship convoy arrived at St. Nazaire, France, in three groups starting on 26 June, and ending on 29 June, these instructions may have been of the “lessons learned” variety. On the arrival of the last group in this troop convoy, see: Albert Gleaves to Josephus Daniels, 29 June 1917.

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