Vice Admiral Sir Lewis Bayly, Commander, Southern Ireland, to Vice Admiral William S. Sims, Commander, United States Naval Forces Operating in European Waters
My dear Admiral
I am afraid that the leakage of news is likely to be serious, and we shall have to consider whether all expected arrivals & departures shall not be kept to our own selves. Dixie arrived at 8.30 am 12th : at 8am the Flag Capn1 reported to me that mines had been laid outside this harbor, probably on the night before. I hurried up sweeping and at once sent a signal to Dixie to keep the sea. Imagine my joy at seeing her with her destroyers at the entrance at 8.30. She got my signal when in the middle of the mine field & wisely carried on. But we are running big risks. My idea is that the great leak is the Queen’s Hotel; the only big hotel here, and always full of officers, wives, women etc. They tell me that it is owned by a German named Hubert; my opinion is that the present manager is a spy. You might ask some authorities, whoever’s job it is, whether it could be taken over, & seen as a hotel under Gov. supervision. It is filthy too.
The S/M’s [i.e. submarines] are very active, and I think have been told to sink every ship they see since our papers2 began to say that the S/M menace was not really serious at all events lately they torpedo ships under escort as they have not done before, but being in a hurry to get away they fire & bolt, so that they only hit the ship in one end & we tow her in. We got the Astonia in yesterday a great sight: they towed her 60 miles, with a trawler astern steering as the Astonia’s rudder had been blown hard a starboard overnight We had three tugs to turn the corners in the harbor, she anchored at 7pm and at 7am this morning it was blowing a gale from the south. Jolly lucky; especially as we got the Coronado in last night on (they say) the point of sinking.3
I really do think that I have the finest band of people under me that ever man was blessed with; all I have to do is to tell them to go on & then not interfere. I have invented a mixed tribunal as a precedent: it will all come to you later. The Laburnun ran into the Jenkins, both damaged. Today I have a Court of Enquiry Flag Capn – Cap. Wadsworth – Cap. Myosotis. Then the minutes & the Courts expression of opinion will come to me to judge as regards Laburnun & another copy to you as regards Jenkins. Next court will have a USA president; & always the members equally divided in nationality & equal in members and rank.4 I hope you approve. There Lordships will ask why I did not consult them first, but I wanted to get the thing over & with good feeling both sides, and there are sure to be questions now & then that will want going into.
The best of luck
yours very sincerely
Source Note: LTS, DLC-MSS, William S. Sims Papers, Container 47. The letter is written on stationary with “Admiralty House, Queenstown.” In the upper right-hand corner of every page.
Footnote 1: Capt. Charles D. Carpendale.
Footnote 2: A reference to British newspapers.
Footnote 3: The commander of Paulding, John A. Barleon, reported observing Coronado suffering “a large explosion” under its bow on the night of 12 June. Coronado's crew abandoned ship, and were taken aboard Primrose, which then joined with Paulding in escorting the ship as it was towed to shore. See, Report of Observation of Enemy Submarine Activities, June 10th to June 17th 1917, DNA, RG 45 Entry 520.
Footnote 4: Cmd. Joseph K. Taussig participated in the court of inquiry and recorded it in his diary, along with an account of the Jenkins colliding with the Laburnum. He concluded that no one was at fault for the incident. It was simply “one of those things that must be expected where a large number of ships are operating at night without navigation lights, and in a confined area.” See: Taussig Diary, 14 June 1917.