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Lieutenant Commander Charles R. Train, United States Naval Attaché in Rome, to Vice Admiral William S. Sims, Commander, United States Naval Forces Operating in European Waters


Telegraphic Address

  Alusna Rome.”


R O M E                

25 June, 1918.


     Dear Admiral:-

          Before anything, I wish to express my thanks for the visit to London and all that you and your good Staff did towards making my visit there a delightful one.

          Your map of London I gave to Yarnell,1 as at the moment you were busy and I was unable to return it to you personally. I told Yarnell to be absolutely sure of its safe return to you, and hope it has long since been delivered.

          The Italians are holding the Piave without the slightest trouble; but I do not expect and advance by the Italians into the country beyond the river at this time.2

          I understand that one or more of the French Destroyers have already left Brindisi to join the main fleet at Corfu. Admiral Revel,3 I understand, has not put forth any objections to Admiral Triangi’s4 action at the conference. I believe Triangi began to weaken as he got further from London and got nearer to Revel regarding his decision to let the ten Destroyers leave Brindisi; but that he finally allowed his decision made in the conference to stand. Here, as elsewhere, the action of the Chief of Staff is deplored by the Navy at large, and officers with whom I have talked all agree that there would be little or no objection to a British Commander-in-Chief who had complete sway in the Mediterranean and Adriatic. The British Ambassador5 had a conference with the Prime Minister6 last night in this regard; but as yet no one knows the result.

          I am sending a report on the sinking of the Austrian dreadnaughts, and hope that we will be able to give Rizzo7 the first Military Cross to be given to a foreigner. I think it would be a fine thing, and have good results, and surely he deserves it.

          Last evening a crows [crowd] of Romans, frenzied with delight by the victory over the Austrians, broke into the old German Embassy, which is German property, and had a great time chucking out the valuables. They particularly enjoyed smashing up the Emperor’s picture and also that of the Empress.8 The contents of the library, throne, etc., were burned, much to the delight of the crowd. This is a report that just came in, and I have not as yet, had time to verify it.

          I feel a little squeamish over the Selection Board, on account of lack of sea duty; but if I get promoted I sincerely trust that the Department will consider me of sufficient rank to be the Chief here in Italy.

          With kindest regards, I am

                   Sincerely yours,

S/ C. H. TRAIN              

To Vice-Admiral William S. Sims, U.S.N.,

Commander U.S.Naval Forces in European Waters,

          L o n d o n.

P.S. The Ministry of Marine has justnotified me that one French destroyer left the 23rd for Corfu, 2 more on the 24th and others as soon as certain overhaul is completed.

              S/ CHT

Source Note: LTS, DLC-MSS, William Sims Papers, Box 23.

Footnote 1: Cmdr. Henry E. Yarnell, a member of the Planning Section on Sims’ staff.

Footnote 2: For more on the Piave Offensive, see: Jackson to Sims, 24 June 1918.

Footnote 3: Adm. Paolo Thaon di Revel, Chief of the Italian Naval Staff.

Footnote 4: RAdm. Arturo Triangi de Maderno, Assistant Chief of the Italian Naval Staff.

Footnote 5: British Ambassador to Italy Sir James Rennell Rodd.

Footnote 6: Italian Prime Minister Vittorio Emanuele Orlando.

Footnote 7: Adm. Luigi Rizzo. Nicknamed the Sinker, Rizzo served as the commander of the Italian torpedo boats (MAS - Motoscafo armato silurante) against ships belonging to the Austro-Hungarian Navy. On 10 June 1918 Rizzo sank the large Austro-Hungarian battleship SMS Szent István off Premuda. The sinking of the 21,700-ton SMS Szent István was the greatest success of any MAS torpedo boat and is still celebrated in the Italian Navy on June 10 every year, as it represents an important anniversary in Italian naval history. For more on this event, see, Paul Kennedy, The Sinking of the Szent Istvan, in "The History of the First World War", (BPC Publishing Ltd., Bristol, 1971), vol.7, no.14 :3072–75.

Footnote 8: Kaiser Wilhelm II and his wife, Augusta Victoria.