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Captain Hutchinson I. Cone, Commander, United States Naval Aviation Forces, Foreign Service, to Captain Noble E. Irwin, Director of Naval Aviation

4 Place d’Iena,         


June 10th, 1918.

My dear Irwin,

          Smith1 is busying himself getting loaded up with information for you and I took advantage of his familiarity with conditions in the Department to get him to give us a lecture on the way things are done in the Navy Department. Yesterday morning I had all of my officers assemble and he talked to us for two hours on the subject, and I think much to the benefit of both of our organizations.

          I have planned to go to London to-day but the weather is too bad and I had a number of other things which prevented. The largest question that I have confronting me at this particular time is the one of modifying our organization here to meet the operating conditions. Our Stations are all nearing completion satisfactorily and we are ready now to operate machines at a number of them, which is going to result in the operating part of the outfit assuming more importance and the constructing part less. This, of course, will necessitate a modification of our organization which I am busily engaged on now, as I like to have these things settled well in advance. Of course, before I can really accomplish any actual changes I must see Admiral Sims2 and then I must go down to Brest and have a conference with Admiral Wilson3 as he is directly concerned in the operating of these French Stations.

          The Northern Bombing Project is another matter about which I want to see Admiral Sims, because it is already evident that the best place for us to locate our repair Base for this project is across the Channel and it is necessary for us to get on the ground early in that part of England to secure proper aerodromes, etc. for naturally all of these sort of facilities are being prem preempted quite rapidly at this particular time. I really look for splendid results of this whole bombing proposition and have been quite sure for a long time that the bombing game is one that is in its infancy. Unfortunately for those of us here, we have had considerable experience in testing the other end of the bombing proposition as we are visited quite frequently by our friends the Boche and seem to have front row seats when it comes to taking stock of the effects of efficient bombing.

          We are still very shy of information, especially with reference to the arrival of pilots and flying personnel, but I suppose there is none to give us. I have naturally been very much afraid that the performance of the German submarines on our coast may result in slowing down the supply of our outfit over here, because of course I realize fully the tremendous pressure that is going to be put on you fellows over there to keep facilities at home for the protection of the coast. It goes without saying that if any such thing is done, that we are playing exactly into the hands of the Germans for undoubtedly that is why he has gone to the trouble and expense of sending those submarines over to our coast at this time.4

          I am making arrangements now to send Dinger5 back home in about a month and I think he will be able to give you a lot of information, but more especially will he be valuable to the technical bureaus, as he is loaded to the guards with a vast amount of detailed technical information. I am sending him particularly in order that he may help Steam Engineering and I have no doubt that he will be valuable in their organization in advancing the design of motors.


Source Note: LT, DLC-MSS, William Sims Papers, Container 23. Identifiers “4-1-2” and “J/K/G1/3” appear in the upper right corner of each page. The letter is addressed below close “Captain N. E. Irwin, U.S.N.,/Office of Naval Operations,/Navy Department,/WASHINGTON, D.C.”

Footnote 1: (Marine) Capt. Bernard L. Smith, Naval Aviation Forces. Smith had previously served as naval attaché in Paris before U.S. entry into the war, and had travelled to Washington in the earliest days of American involvement to advocate for naval aviation based in France. He spent time on Irwin’s staff, but later returned to Cone’s headquarters. Rossano and Wildenberg, Striking the Hornet’s Nest: 34.

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

Footnote 3: RAdm. Henry B. Wilson, Commander, United States Naval Forces Based in France.

Footnote 4: Although the Germans eventually sent six U-boats to operate near American waters, at this time there was still only the U-151.  William Bell Clark, When the U-Boats Came to America (Boston: Little, Brown, and Company, 1920).

Footnote 5: Lt. Cmdr. Henry C. Dinger. Dinger had previously commanded the fuel ship Maumee, and in October 1918 began a tour of duty at the Bureau of Steam Engineering. His position in the interim is unknown.

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