Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

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

AD                                 [London] June 3rd. 1918.    

My dear Pringle,

          You will probably know by this time that nearly everybody on board the PRESIDENT LINCOLN was saved. Three officers are missing and about twenty men, and one officer was taken prisoner by the submarine.1 This latter officer was not the Captain, who is Commander Foote.2

          We have no details yet beyond the fact that the four vessels were proceeding in convoy in line of Brest after the escort had left them in about longitude 12.3 The vessel was torpedoed in longitude 35.4 The submarine that did the business was the U-90, and she was operating a long distance from shore because she had such a considerable oil leak that it was not safe for her to operate further in shore.5

Very sincerely yours,

Source Note: Cy, DLC-MSS, William S. Sims Papers, Box 79. Addressed below close: “Captain J.R.P.Pringle, U.S.N./U.S.S.MELVILLE/Queenstown.” Notation at top “Admiral Sims’ Personal File.” Identifier in top right-hand corner in columnar fashion: “1/3/J/D.”

Footnote 1: The casualties, three officers and twenty-three enlisted men were all members of the crew. The remainder of the crew and all the passengers successfully abandoned ship, and save for the captured prisoner, all the others were rescued. DANFS.

Footnote 2: Cmdr. Percy W. Foote. The officer captured was Lt. Edouard V.M. Isaacs. Reportedly, the Germans took Isaacs because he was the only naval officer they were able to identify. Isaacs was later awarded a medal of honor for his actions during his capture and for his subsequent escape from a German prisoner of war camp. Ibid.

Footnote 3: The convoy consisted of President Lincoln, and the transports Rijndam, Susquehanna , and Antigone. Longitude 12 west was considered the edge of the submarine operating zone. Ibid.

Footnote 4: The sinking took place some 600 miles west of Brest. Ibid.

Footnote 5: U-90 (Kapitänleutnant Walter Remy) had sighted the convoy on the afternoon of 30 May and overtaken it that night and then took a position well ahead and awaited it approach before attacking at 8:57 a.m. on 31 May. Ibid.

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