Skip to main content

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             AMERICAN EMBASSY

  Alusna Rome.”                  R O M E        25 June, 1918.

Dear Admiral:-

          Since closing my letter to you,1 I have learned the following, which is of particular interest at this time.

          The Ambassador,2 in accordance with instructions from the State Department, took up with the Minister of Foreign Affairs,|3| the subject of the evident lack of harmony at sea b etween Italy and her Allies.

          The Ambassador saw Baron Sonino3 yesterday, who stated that he was anxious that Italy should act in harmony with her Allies; that he did not think the Allied Council a good thing, but assented to the Admirallissimo for the entire Allied Naval Forces as long as certain freedom of action was left to the Italian Navy for operations in the Adriatic. He said this was necessary because of the difference between the littoral of the two sides of the Adriatic; on one side were low sandy beaches, with no harbors, while the other coast was mountainous, with many harbors, perfectly adapted for modern warfare, and particularly for the action of torpedo craft. He further said, owing to conditions in the Adriatic, operations developed very quickly, and, therefore, more or less independence of action was necessary in that sea. Such independence of action in the Adriatic, would have considerable political effect on the spirit of the people.

          This bears out a conversation I had this morning, with an officer in a high position, who said that he believed that a British Commander-in-Chief in the Mediterranean, with a staff consisting of officers of flag rank from each of the Allies, would do away with the Allied Council, and at the same time clear up the present difficulties. But, as usual, he added a string to it by saying that the conditions in the Adriatic made certain independence of action there necessary for the Italians on account of the conditions existing only in that sea. I believe this means only the ordinary responsibilities that an officer on detached service from the flag, would accept and act upon.

          The above information the Ambassador has kindly given me, for you, and of course requests that it be considered secret.

                   Very sincerely,

S/ C. H. TRAIN                    

Source Note: LTS, DLC-MSS, William Sims Papers, Box 23. Below the close, the letter is addressed, “To Vice-Admiral William S. Sims, U.S.N.,/ Commander U.S.Naval Forces in European Waters./LONDON."

Footnote 1: See: Train to Sims, 25 June 1918.

Footnote 2: United States Ambassador to Italy Thomas Nelson Page.

Footnote 3: Baron Sidney Sonnino.