Captain Richard H. Jackson, American Naval Representative to the Ministry of Marine, to Vice Admiral William S. Sims, Commander, United States Naval Forces Operating in European Waters
U.S. NAVAL FORCES OPERATING INEUROPEAN WATERS.
Staff Office in France.
Telephones Passy 13-80
" 13-81 4, Place d’Iena,
" 13-82 Paris, France.
Cable Address “Amnavpar” March 1st, 1918.
My dear Admiral,
I enclose herewith two questions upon which the Naval Allied Council desired to get action before the Military Representatives of the Supreme War Council at Versailles.1 This was brought up before the Military Representatives yesterday and action was postponed at the request of the British Military Representative,2 in view of the fact that he had been advised that a new Inter-Allied Naval Commission was in progress of formation and he preferred to have action suspended until the composition and functions of this new Board should have been better defined.
I have talked to Commodore Heaton-Ellis3 about this attitude of the British Military Representative, and he is of the opinion that this is probably caused by a plan to nominate Admiral Jellicoe as a Naval Representative to take the place of the present liaison committee.4 When you mentioned this proposition to me in Paris, I offeree[d] the opinion that he would not be at all satisfactory to the Military advisers and that I did not believe he would serve to bring the two bodies in close union.
The more I have seen of the work of the Military body at Versailles, the more I am convinced that it is only by the intermediary of such an organization as the liaison committee now existing that this union can be satisfactorily established and continued. An officer of the rank of Captain in the Navy, of the same nationality as the General,5 can have frequent access to the General and receive reasonable consideration, and if necessary, discuss the points with his General. But these high Military advisors would not be likely to accept a naval officer of another nationality than their own. In other words, judging from my experience with the group of officers now on the liaison committee, they all have easy access to their Generals, and having put the question before them and obtained their opinion, they are equally willing and desirous to get together and harmonize any difficulties that may arise from the points of view of the different nationalities.
So far as I understand, the block on the reply to the present questions lies entirely with the British representative;- each of the other nationalities have expressed themselves entirely satisfied with the actual method of liaison. I have an office assigned me at Versailles with the Committee on Material and Man-Power and find that Major Coward6 and I can exchange a good deal of useful information in regard to our own American operations, independent of the subjects which come up before the Naval Allied Council. I will furnish you with such of this information from time to time as will be of interest and which you may not have already obtained.
I renew my recommendation of the other day – with which Commodore Heaton-Ellis is in complete accord – that the present organization is probably the mose [i.e., most] efficient that can be had to keep the two bodies in close touch, and that the idea of sending a single representative of any nationality would most likely be unacceptable to the Military advisers as a body and certainly would not have the flexibility of the present organization. Consequently, I suggest that you take such action as you may deem advisable to remove the present block in the organization, due to the action of the British Military Representative, in which he assigns his reason as being for the purpose of acting in accord with the desires of the Naval Allied Council.
Yours very sincerely,
Source Note: TLS, DLC-MSS, William Sims Papers, Box 23. Addressed below close: “Vice Admiral W.S. Sims, U.S.N./30 Grosvenor Gardens,/London, S.W.” There is a notation at the top of each of the two pages: “ADMIRAL SIMS’ PERSONAL FILE.” Jackson was the American Naval Representative to the Allied Supreme War Council. For more on how this council was to function, see: Sims to the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, 14 November 1917.
Footnote 1: The enclosure is no longer with this letter.
Footnote 2: Presumably, Maj. Gen. Charles J. Sackville-West.
Footnote 3: Commo. Edward H. Heaton-Ellis, British Naval Representative to the Allied Supreme War Council.
Footnote 4: Former First Sea Lord Adm. Sir John R. Jellicoe. Sims later wrote that there was nothing to this report. See: Sims to Benson, 7 March 1918.
Footnote 5: The United States’ permanent military representative on the council was Gen. Tasker H. Bliss.
Footnote 6: Colonel James M. Coward. “Report of General Tasker H. Bliss, Military Representative of the United States on the Supreme War Council,” 19 February 1920 in FRUS, The Lansing Papers 1914-1920, 2 vols. (Washington, DC: Government Printing Office, 1939-40), 2: 242.