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Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels to Vice Admiral William S. Sims, Commander, United States Naval Forces Operating in European Waters


Beginning of June, 1917. <June 4>

FROM:         Secretary of the Navy.  Washington.  

               Very confidential. Chronological File

<To Simsadus.1 (via State Department.)>

<4925. A> convoy of American troops to France will sail about the 9th of this month.2 It is now contemplated to despatch four convoys of groups of three of <or> four transports under ? separate escort in each group. The first three groups have troops and sail at about six hours interval. The first groups are of faster ? speed. The fourth group bearing animals will sail last and may be delayed. All of the groups sail for a meeting place at sea, the location of which you will be informed of later. The meeting place will be reached by the first group about one week after sailing. The third and fourth groups in about nine days. I will advise you later of the dates and hour of sailings and of arrival at the meeting place.3

I hereby instruct you to furnish escorts to consist of one division of destroyers for each convoy group from the point of meeting to the port of debarkation. When this escort duty is finished those detailed to this service will be returned to their present service. Rear-Admiral Gleaves will accompany the first group in “Seattle” and will have command of all operations of convoy.4


Source Note: Cy, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517. There is an identifying number in the top right-hand corner “12-1-1.” There is a string of letters in the upper left-hand corner that are crossed through and unreadable. Someone has handwritten a variety of information concerning this cable including the date and the intended recipient. These additions have been indicated by angle brackets. The question marks in the text of the message indicate places where the coding was garbled or missing.

Footnote 1: This was the cable address for Sims’ headquarters in London.

Footnote 2: According to Daniels to Sims, 16 June 1917, the first three groups of the convoy did not leave New York until 15 June; DNA, RG 45, Entry 517B.

Footnote 3: These orders initiated an exchange between Sims and Daniels concerning how such troop convoys should be organized and escorted. See: Sims to Daniels, 8 and 9 June 1917; Daniels to Sims, 9 and 16 June 1917; and William S. Benson to Sims, 13 June 1917.

Footnote 4: On the appointment of RAdm. Albert Gleaves as convoy commander, see: William V. Pratt to Sims, 27 May 1917.

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