Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Captain William D. MacDougall, United States Naval Attaché at London, to Vice Admiral Henry F. Oliver, Secretary of the Admiralty

U R G E N T.

SENT: 13th June, 1917.  TO: Navintel for Operations.

     S.S. “SILVER SHELL” of the California Shell Company, which is now at Marseilles, was in gun action on the 30th May for four hours and a half with an enemy submarine.1 Her charter now requires her to go to Sumatra, and return to Marseilles with petrol for the French Government air services. The owners do not dare to sail, although United States shipping board permits the voyage, because the Navy Department has given orders that the guns and crew be removed. Now at Marseilles. The Admiralty strongly recommend that the ship should not go through the Mediterranean without guns and offer care for guns and men at Port Said. The agents have appealed to the Department to retain protection of their ship. I recommend approval and call attention to the French petrol supply which is of direct interest to the United States troops over there. 11113.

MACDOUGALL.

June 13, 1917.

Memo. for Admiral Sims.2

Silver could not proceed to sea because Consul3 would not clear her until guns and crew were taken off. Owners would not send her without guns and crew, unsafe.

Source Note: Cy, DNA, RG45, Entry 517B. In the upper right-hand corner there is an identifying number, “S.184.”

Footnote 1: For an account of this battle, see: John R. Edie to William R. Sayles, 2 June 1917.

Footnote 2: VAdm. William S. Sims, Commander, United States Naval Forces Operating in European Waters.

Footnote 3: Consul-General of the United States at Marseilles Alphonse Gaulin.

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