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 Admiral Sir Lewis Bayly, Commander-in-Chief, Southern Ireland

June 15th, 1918.        

My dear Admiral,

      Your letter of the 13th. has just reached me this morning.1 I was actually on the point of sending a telegram to ask you whether it would be convenient for me to pay a bit of a visit to Queenstown next week. I am glad to know by your letter that this will fit in with your plans to visit Galway and Mayo about July 3rd. It also fits in with plans2 which I have in connection with dates of July 2nd and oth [i.e., 4th]. On the latter date I have to attend a baseball game between the Army and Navy headquarters teams which the King has promised to attend.3

      I note what you say concerning the number of troop convoys that have been escorted in by the Queenstown bunch of destroyers. It certainly has been an extraordinarily successful operation, and we are to be congratualted [i.e., congratulated] that no loaded transports have been successfully attacked.

      I quite realise that some or all of the flivvers4 will be pretty near the end of their string by the time the winter weather comes on. By that time we will be able to strengthen the Queenstown force by a number of the new destroyers. They have quite assured me that there will be from xx seventy-five to ninety-two new destroyers arrive xhere before the end of this year. I have a letter from Washington which states that it is their policy to keep on the other side only nine destroyers, and mostly of the older type,5 so when they begin to come out next month, we may expect them pretty rapidly. This assumes of course that the solitary submarinex on the other side will not excite public opinion to the extent of stampeding the Governemtn [i.e., Government]. I do not think that it will, judging from the information that I get from the other side. They are apparently taking measures to re-assure the public.

      You will be interested to know that my suggestion that they fit out some schooners and other vessels as “Q” ships, or that one or two “Q” ships be sent from this die [i.e., side], was rejected upon the ground that the submarines is behaving very well as regards the saving of lives of the schooners and so forth, that have been sunk and the Department fears that if it were known that “Q” ships were operating in those waters that there would be sinkings without warning, considerable loss of life, xxxx and consequently considerable political agitation.6

      I do not pretend to understand the impelling influences of politics in America but I know they govern very largely the actions of some of our officials.

      As for conditions on the Western Front, I really have not enough information concerning the actual situation, the number and position of reserves, and so forth, to be capable of forming an opinion. However, from recent accounts brought by our officers from Paris indicate that the French are not the least bit discouraged by the situation. In fact they report that the atmosphere of Paris is decidedly optomistic. But not matter what may happen there this war has got to be put through to a successful conclusion by the Allies.

      Please give my best love to the ONLY NIECE,7 and believe me,

Always very sincerely;yours,

Source Note: Cy, DLC-MSS, William S. Sims Papers, Box 23. Addressed below close: “Admiral Sir Lewis Bayly, R. N.,/Admiralty House,/Queenstown Ireland.” Document identifier in top right-hand corner of both pages of the letter: “1/3/J.” Note at top: Admiral Sims/Personal File.”

Footnote 1: Bayly’s letter has not been found.

Footnote 2: The fragment starting with “to visit Galway: and ending here, is typed along the left margin and an arrow used to indicate its placement in the text.

Footnote 3: For more on this game, which was attended by King George V, see, Jim Leeke, Nine Innings for the King: The Day Wartime London Stopped for Baseball, July 4 1918 (McFarland, 2015).

Footnote 4: “Flivvers” were older destroyers of between 700 and 742 tons. They were called “flivvers” because they were “lightweights.” Norman Friedman, U.S. Destroyers: An Illustrated Design History, Revised Edition (Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, 2004), 27.

Footnote 7: Bayly’s niece, Violet Voysey.

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