Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

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

REFER TO            UNITED STATES NAVAL FORCES

NO.                OPERATING IN EUROPEAN WATERS

U. S. S. MELVILLE, FLAGSHIP.

                                BASE SIX [Queenstown, Ireland].

             2 June 1918.

My dear Admiral:

          I have been talking with Admiral Bayly1 with regard to the general welfare of officers of this command, and he thoroughly agrees with me that we should make some effort to provide a meeting place for officers, in short – a club. The Admiral with his usual desire to help us in every way, suggested that we take over a certain part of the Queen’s Hotel for this purpose, but I informed him that we could, in no case, undertake to involve the Government into any expenditure whatever for the benefit of a club,2 and that we would much prefer, in fact, we considered it absolutely necessary, that the proposition should go through as a personal proposition, and that the officers should join or not join as they might see fit. In other words, the club would be entirely independent of any official help, and of course it would remain with me to see that affairs were conducted in a proper manner in so far as it would be possible for me to do so. I have accordingly appointed a committee to look into the matter and see if we can find some house in Queenstown which we may be able to rent. If we can do this, we will take up a subscription, rent the house, fit it up with a couple of billiard tables, magazines, etc., and thereby have some place where the officers of the Force can find proper rest and relaxation when they are in port. I think this is really very necessary, because there is no place at present in Queenstown where the officers of the Force in general can lounge about and be comfortable when they come in from sea. If we can make something which will be as good in that respect for the officers as the Men’s Club is for the men, I think we will do a great thing for the contentment of this Force.3

          We will soon be receiving an invoice of 75 young officers, and it will be my particular endeavor to get them pointed in the right way and keep them going there. This lot of 75 officers will, in the course of a year, constitute the backbone of this Force, so it is well that we should start them off properly.

          Am just in receipt of your telegram to say that the KIMBERLY will proceed to Queenstown in the near future.4 I am delighted to hear this, as you will know from my previous mentioning to you of the value of Johnson’s services at this Base.5 He is a prime favorite of Admiral Bayly’s, and I know of no one whom I would rather have here in the position of senior escort commander than Johnson.

          If it would not be too much trouble for you, would you drop me a line sometime and let me know some of the circumstances attendant upon the loss of the PRESIDENT LINCOLN.6 I intercepted the first S O S call that was sent out, and sent you a wire quoting it, but up to date we have had no accurate information with regard to the performance whatever. Also, if you could add a line as to the conditions now prevailing on the Western Front, it would be very much appreciated.7 We get nothing out of the newspapers, but there seems to be somewhat of a mysterious condition prevailing. I know that this lays attacks <a tax> on your time, but some day, when you are writing me on some other subject, if you would be good enough to add a line covering these subjects, I would be very much obliged to you.

          I think everything is moving along down here in the way in which you would have it, and I hope that we will soon get some of our cripples back in service8 and be able to ease up a little on the ships that are now fit to run.

          We had high hopes yesterday of scoring a bullseye in the case of a submarine which young Farquhar9 of the STERETT seems to have successfully damaged with his depth charges – which he trailed all night, and with which he apparently fought a small gun action in the morning following.10 The sub, however, managed to submerge and escape, but from the fragmentary reports received by means of intercepted radios, I think that young Farquhar has put up another very fine exhibition of high initiative and efficient performances. He has already busted up one sub, and if he keeps on at the rate that he is going he will surely bring home the bacon some day.

          You will doubtless have received my recommendation regarding a letter to young Lang of the McCALL.11 He is the junior of the bunch over here, and I regard him as a coming man.

          I trust that everything is well with you, and believe me,

Very sincerely yours,        

JRPoinsett Pringle      

Source Note: TLS, DLC-MSS, William S. Sims Papers, Box 79. Addressed below close: “Vice-Admiral W.S. Sims, U.S.N./30 Grosvenor Gardens, London, S.W. 1.” Document identifier in top right-hand corner of first page: “(C-4).”

Footnote 1: Adm. Lewis Bayly, R.N., commander at Queenstown.

Footnote 2: The American officers in Queenstown had used the Royal Cork Yacht Club as their “recreational headquarters.” According to Rufus F. Zogbaum, who commanded a destroyer at Queenstown: “we were always able to dine there and have a home on shore.” Rufus F. Zogbaum, From Sail to Saratoga: A Naval Autobiography (Rome, Italy: N.P., 1961), 243.

Footnote 3: Pringle’s proposed officers’ club did not begin operations before the armistice occurred and the war ended. Still, Crisis at Sea: 259.

Footnote 4: See: Sims to Bayly, 1 June 1918. KIMBERLY was a newly-built destroyers.

Footnote 5: Cmdr. Alfred W. Johnson. Johnson had earlier served at Queenstown as commander of the destroyer Conyngham. Pringle reported the arrival of the KIMBERLY at Queenstown on 11 June. See: Pringle to Sims, 11 June 1918.

Footnote 6: Sims sent Pringle information on the sinking of the troop carrier President Lincoln the next day. See: Sims to Pringle, 2 June 1918; and Sims to Pringle, 4 June 1918. President Lincoln, the former German passenger liner Berlin then serving as a troop transport was sunk by U-90 on the morning of 31 May 1918. There is a detailed account of the sinking in the DANFS profile of this ship.

Footnote 7: See: Sims to Pringle, 4 June 1918.

Footnote 8: The “cripples,” Pringle referred to were damaged destroyers then being repaired.

Footnote 9: Lt. Cmdr. Allen S. Farquhar.

Footnote 10: STERETT’s action against the submarine took place on 31 May and 1 June. War Diary of STERETT, DNA, RG 45, Entry 520, Destroyer Ship Files, STERETT, folder 14. The action report is no longer with the war diary.

Footnote 11: For more on the letter of commendation for Lt. Edward K. Lang, commander of McCall, see: Nathan C. Twining to Josephus Daniels, 21 May 1918.

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