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 the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations

 

CABLEGRAM SENT  8 March EWC 1918

To Opnav Washington                        Serial No. 4926

Prep. by R-1                 SX  D.R.

                                  25 D

4928. Your 3641.1 Desire point out British artisans can be housed and subsisted according to their usual standards much more economically than Americans, with consequent saving in tonnage. Also, wages paid Americans certain to cause dislocation local prices for commodities, with unrest and probably labor difficulties among neighboring British workmen. Consider it highly [un]advisable2 to add American workmen to existing British dockyard or private organizations, as homogeneous force more harmonious and efficient. British labor would probably not permit employment our mechanics on a large scale at American wages, whether enrolled or not. Another important consideration is that every available American skilled in ship or engine building imperatively needed to live up to our promised deliveries of destroyers and merchant ships, while British still have considerable supply skilled shipbuilding mechanics with colors. Truest <Trust> in view of above Department will consider policy.3 4928.

Sims.        

Source Note: Cy, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517B.

Footnote 2: Sims advocated for the United States to supply Britain with the necessary materials to expand their dockyard facilities, and pulling trained artisans from the British army to man the new facilities. The Navy Department rejected this idea, considering it better to keep experienced fighting men at the front and use undrafted American laborers to work the dockyards. Since Sims is here renewing his call to use British laborers, he clearly did not find it “advisable” to add American workmen, and this word must have been mistyped. See: Ibid., Sims to Opnav, 1 March 1918.

Footnote 3: In response to this request, Benson informed Sims, “Department does not see reason to reconsider its decision.” See, Benson to Sims, 12 March 1918, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517B.

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