Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Lieutenant Commander Garrett L. Schuyler, Senior Officer, Naval Railway Battery, to Vice Admiral William S. Sims, Commander, United States Naval Forces Operating in European Waters

St. Nazaire, France,

16, June 1918.

Dear Admiral Sims-

          We have been here about a week now – 250 of our men and about 9 officers – and are beginning to feel that we know the way around. When we got word that the battery was to come via St. Nazaire, Captain Plunkett1 sent me over with this detachment to start in and establish ourselves so that when the ships arrive, there need be no delay in finding out what docks, etc., we will have. Commander Baldwin2 has seen us through very nicely, and after about three days riding around with him in his car, visiting every conceivable Department of the Army organization, we have it pretty well threshed out. I wired to L’Orient asking to have the information sent to Brest and London so that whichever way Captain Plunkett comes he will get word of what is happening down here. We had a 17 hour railway trip – “8 cheneaux, 40 hommes,”3 etc. We are in the “casual camp” three miles from St. Nazaire, but are giving going in by motor truck each day to build a more centrally located camp, which we will move into in a day or two. There are some puzzling things which came up – due to our being sailors in the Army, whereas, they have not had any before, but all the Army we have met take it as an interesting novelty in their somewhat monotonous work and are glad to do anything they can for us. The men’s letters have rather more of the YMCA4 touch than I would expect (we have a lot of Michigan University men)-and there is a rather more serious tone to them, telling the home folks to kill the pacifist while they kill the Germans- than you would find in the old bluejacket,all say how glad they are to be here.

          I wrote a long letter to Thomson5 telling <covering> about everything I saw in the Bureau, etc., and told him to show it to Babcock,6 as part might interest you. I have seen many things and numbers of officers since I left London, and the more I saw the more fortunate I considered I had been in my duty with you. Also, the more I desired to be identified with your organization in preference to anything else. I feel that my work here will be fairly useful to the Navy, and not merely something idly embarked in as an interesting adventure. If later we get things running so smoothly, and all hands – particularly the gun commanders – have had sufficient training and actual experience, and things are cut and dried in a gunnery way, I would above all like to return again to London if it is agreeable, and I don’t think this duty will have done me any harm. But it is a bit early to discuss that, except as an illustration of the fact that I so thoroughly appreciate my London duty and what you have been kind enough to do for me.

Respectfully,                

Garret. L. Schuyler, Lt-Comdr.    

Source Note: TCy, DLC-MSS, William S. Sims Papers, Box 23. Document is from: “ADMIRAL SIM’ PERSONAL FILE.” Document reference: “1/3/C/J.”

Footnote 1: Capt. Charles P. Plunkett, Commander, Naval Railway Battery.

Footnote 2: Paymaster Frank P. Baldwin.

Footnote 3: “8 horses, 40 men,” A reference to the capacity of a single French boxcar.

Footnote 4: Young Men’s Christian Association.

Footnote 5: Lt. Cmdr. Thaddeus A. Thomson, Jr.

Footnote 6: Cmdr. John V. Babcock, Sims’ personal aide.

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