Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Captain Joel R. Poinsett Pringle, Chief of Staff, Destroyer Flotillas, to Vice Admiral William S. Sims, Commander, United States Naval Forces Operating in European Waters

United States Naval Forces

Operating in European Waters

U.S.S.Melville, Flagship.

Base Six,[Queenstown]   

11 June 1918.           

My dear Admiral:

     The transfer of the ships to Brest1 has been satisfactorily accomplished and I think our activities in that connection will be entirely cleared up as soon as we are able to send spare gear, etc., on board the Zinnia sailing from here about June 15 or 16.

     Johnson2 has arrived in the KIMBERLY, and needless to say, Admiral Bayly3 welcomed him with open arms. He reports the KIMBERLY in good shape and considers her generally very satisfactory. She is agood sea boat. Her cruising radius is comparatively small, being by 3200 miles. I hope that we shall have some others before long, but am very much inclined to believe that the presence of the submarine on our coast will necessarily result in some of the new ships being retained over there. However I think we can put things through down here with what we have, and, in any event, we will endeavor to do it. Most of our cripples4 ought to be back in service this month, and then we shall once more be on easy street.

     I succedded in smoothing out the difficulty between Admiral Bayly and Berrien fairly well,5 but I am entirely of the opinion that Berrien should go home at present rather than to do any further service here. He has done really a very great deal of very important work. Has been employed constantly as escort commander and his work has been eminently satisfactory. He is, as you well know, a very high strung man, and I think it is just as well that he should have a rest. He is certainly entitled to a great deal of credit for the way in which he handled his job over here.

     I made it a point to be polite to Father Connolly,6 and found him very agreeable and very reasonable. He told me that he was very shy of chaplains, and I accordingly said that I did not believe, under those circumstances, that he should be embarrassed by a request for a chaplain down here when I did not consider that one was needed and he accordingly seemed to be perfectly satisfied.

     Mr. Suydan7 and the two Dutch Journalists whom he was escorting arrived on Saturday 8 June, and left yesterday. I understand that considerable importance attaches to this mission and accordingly we took considerable pains to show them every courtesy and attention, and to give them every facility possible. Mr. Suydam upon leaving, informed me that they had been very much impressed with what they had seen, that he considered that undoubtedly the visit would have a very good effect, and that if the efforts to get this information to the places where it was intended that it should go were successful, he would probably wish to come down again in the course of six or eight weeks and bring with him some Swiss journalists. We will do our best for them when they come down and I believe that, whatever may be the result of this recent visit so far as spreading the gospel is concerned, the journalists themselves were very considerably impressed with the conditions which they found existing.

     I had not paid any attention to the Maude Allen case until your letter was received when I took occasion to look it up. I note what you say about the casual mention regarding Captain Spencer’s statements,8 and your action thereon, and I will make much mention in a day or so when a favorable opportunity presents itself. I judge that it will be just as well to make it that much more casual be delaying its utterance a bit.

     Admiral Bayly, I am very glad to say, has decided to accept the honor tended him on the King’s birthday.9 He has not informed me of his intention of doing so nor indeed has he mentioned the subject at all since our last interview, but his failure to have mentioned it causes me no surprise as I had no idea that he would mention it again unless he persisted in his determination to decline it. Yesterday I went on board the STERETT with him and he read to the officers and crew a copy of the remarks which he had placed on the Commanding Officer’s report of the STERRETT’S action with the an enemy submarine when forwarding the report to the Admiralty.10 He also made a short address, and I think the Officers and crew of the STERETT are now about ripe for a successful submarine action I forwarded you, of course, the STERRETT’S report of this action and recommended that you address to the Commanding Officer a letter on the subject.11 In all the reports of submarine actions that have come under my notice, I know of none which indicates a more dogged persistence in the prosecution of an offensive action than does Farquhars report. Farquhar came to see me the other day and we had a Little chat on the subject, during the course of which he informed me that he was not only glad to have received commendation of his action on his own account, but also on account of the fact that he had enlisted your services in securing an assignment to the Destroyer Force, and he was therefore much pleased to feel that he had demonstrated to some extent his value as a member of the Force. That I consider to be a very excellent example of loyalty, and if you could find time and have the inclination, I think that his cup of satisfaction would be filled to the brim if you would simply drop him a personal line to say that you had reason to be satisfied with your action in assisting him to get into this Force.

     Many thanks for your recent letters, and believe me, with best wishes,

Very sincerely yours,        

/s/ J.R.Poinsett Pringle.         

Source Note: TCy, DLC-MSS, William S. Sims Papers, Box 79. Addressed below close: “Vice-Admiral W.S.Sims.” Document is from: “Admiral Sims’ Personal Files.” Document reference: “(C-4),” and in columnar fashion: “1/3/J/D.”

Footnote 1: The destroyers Little and Conner spent the rest of the war operating off Brest, France. DANFS. See: Pringle to Sims, 30 May 1918; and Sims to Pringle, 31 May 1918.

Footnote 2: Cmdr. Alfred W. Johnson.

Footnote 3: Adm. Sir Lewis Bayly, R.N.

Footnote 4: The “cripples” referred to were destroyers being repaired.

Footnote 5: Capt. Frank D. Berrien. For more on Berrien, see: Sims to Berrien, 15 June 1918.

Footnote 6: Chaplain Father James C. Connolly, U.S.N.R.F.

Footnote 7: Correspondent Henry Suydam.

Footnote 8: Capt. Ery M. Spencer, U.S.M.C, Asst. Quartermaster. For more information, see: Sims to Pringle, 31 May 1918.

Footnote 9: King Edward the VII’s birthday was November 9th, 1841. It is likely the award referred to was that of the Knight Commander of the order of the Bath.

Footnote 10: Cmdr. Allan S. Farquhar. Farquhar’s report has not been found.

Footnote 11: The U.S.S. Sterrett spotted the submarine U-97 on 31 May 1918. The destroyer dropped her entire supply of depth charges, but failed to destroy the U-boat. She pursued it for several hours, and later came within 20 feet of ramming it, but the sub ultimately escaped. DANFS.