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

Subject Copy.

Cablegram Sent          3 March 1918. ROC      

To Opnav, Washington.                      Serial No. 4638

Prep. by CS                       NCT1    D.R.

23-D          

VERY SECRET

4638. The British Naval Commander at Mourmansk2 has requested additional naval forces sent to him [on] account [of] increasing tension of the situation, number of refugees arriving, and uncertain attitude of people in that locality toward the British and Bolsheviki Governments.3 Admiralty sent a Cruiser at once, and British Foreign Office has requested United States and French Governments to send vessels. It is considered by Admiralty and I concur that, not only is it desirable to send a vessel to give material assistance, but also to impress Russians with the unity of the French, British, and American Forces, and I strongly recommend that a Cruiser or old Battleship be despatched without delay.4

          Admiralty states that the passage through the Denmark Strait is bad from December to April, on account of ice, and it is in some years completely closed. <15303.>

Sims.                  

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

Footnote 1: Capt. Nathan C. Twining, Sims’ chief of staff.

Footnote 2: RAdm. Thomas Kemp.

Footnote 3: Kemp was the commander of the British North Russia Squadron, which was formed as part of an initiative by other Entente Powers to keep Russia in the war. One of its main goals was to protect the large stockpiles of Allied material at the ice-free port at Murmansk. Russia's continued involvement in the war was challenged externally by German advances into the East and internally by a strong antipathy to the war amongst the Russian population. This later factor had led to support for the Bolshevik Revolution and the resulting Civil War that ultimately saw the new Bolshevik government make a separate peace with Germany. The squadron would remain in Russia throughout most of the Allied North Russia Intervention, although it played no major part in this operation; Clifford Kinvig, Churchill’s Crusade: The British Invasion of Russia, 1918-1920, (London: Hambledon and London, 2007).

Footnote 4: The United States sent Olympia to assist with effort in Murmansk. Olympia departed Charleston on 28 April 1918, arriving in the Russian port on 9 June, carrying a peacekeeping force that assisted in the port’s occupation.