Vice Admiral William S. Sims, Commander, United States Naval Forces Operating in European Waters, to Admiral Sir Lewis Bayly, R.N., Commander, Naval Forces, Southern Ireland
March 14th, 1918.
My dear Admiral,
Your letter of the 10th.1 reached me yesterday, and the books arrived today. I quite agree with you as to the astonishing turn of mind of the Germans. One cannot be sure that one understands even after having read considerable literature on the subject.
As to the present military position, I do not pretend to understand it in its general aspect. I believe there is an opinion that no German offensive will be made on the Western Front. It is not easy to understand why the Germans should have continuously advertised such an offensive during the last two or three months if they really intended to carry it out there. However, the Allied Military Council are no doubt considering this whole matter very seriously. They are now here in London, and the Allied Naval Council had a meeting with them this morning. The meeting of the Supreme War Council which includes all the Prime Ministers, is now in session. They will, I believe, make decisions on points that have been awaiting decision for many months. This refers particularly to the question of tonnage. When I see you I will explain the decisions that were reached by the Allied Naval Council in reference to more energetic action. These decisions were based upon two papers that were prepared by the Planning Section of my staff.2
I will send you copies of these papers, as I have no doubt they contain items that will interest you. There is also another paper on the question of the Propaganda that has been carried out by the enemy and what is believed to be practicable on our side.3 The latter is a curious paper, and has excited considerable interest here in London. Both Mr. Balfour and Lord Northcliffe4 think well of it, especially the latter, who requested a conference on this paper between several people connected with the propaganda.
I am very glad indeed to hear that you have had Admiral Jellicoe with you and that he enjoyed the visit.5 I felt sure he would be interested.
There has been nothing definite recently about the proposition for Jellicoe to be with the War Council at Versailles, but I do not think any definite decision has yet been arrived at. It is becoming more and more apparent that the War Council and the Naval Council should be in closer union with each other.6
I am informed just this morning that Admiral Wemyss7 expects to visit Queenstown within about a week. I think he intends leaving here either the Friday morning or Friday evening, 22nd. inst. and arriving in Queenstown in either case about noon.
Some time ago I was informed by his secretary that he would like me to be in Queenstown at the same time, and this morning I have been invited to go with him and take Babcock8 along with me. I should of course like to do so if it would be convenient to you and the Only Niece.9 There would be five in the party in all, including Commander Marriott and Comodore Brownrigg.10
I will look up your tailor the next time I have occasion to get some clothes. The last suit I got of broadcloth, cost about £14.10.0. with one pound off for cash.
The last weeks here have been exceedingly busy ones for me. I have been hooked up with a new commission11 that has come over to take up all sorts of shipping problems and this is just now the most important question that the Allies have to decide. Upon it depends the number of troops that can be gotten on the Western Front and supplied there. If we can hold out in this respect until about August or September, we ought to be out of the woods, even if the anti-submarine campaign measures do no produce any better results than at present.
Very sincerely yours,
Source Note: Cy, DLC-MSS, William S. Sims, Box 23. Addressed below close: “Admiral Sir Lewis Bayly,/Admiralty House,/Queenstown, Ireland.” Note at top of page: “Admiral Sims/Personal File.” Document identifier: “1/3/J.”
Footnote 1: See: Bayly to Sims, 10 March 1918.
Footnote 2: These papers were probably “Memorandum No. 8. Estimate of the General Naval Situation,” and “Memorandum No. 9. Adriatic Situation. American Naval Planning Section London: 37-77.
Footnote 3: See, “Memorandum No. 11. Morale-Allied and Enemy,” Ibid., 84-90.
Footnote 4: Foreign Minister Arthur Balfour and Alfred Harmsworth, Lord Northcliffe. Northcliffe had recently been placed in charge of British propaganda in belligerent countries. See: Sims to William S. Benson, 7 March 1918.
Footnote 5: Adm. Sir John R. Jellicoe, R.N. For more on his visit to Queenstown, see: J. R. Poinsett Pringle to Sims, 11 March 1918.
Footnote 6: On the appointment of Jellicoe as naval representative to the Supreme War Council, see: Richard H. Jackson to Sims, 1 March 1918; and Sims to William S. Benson, 7 March 1918.
Footnote 7: First Sea Lord Adm. Rosslyn Wemyss, R.N.
Footnote 8: Cmdr. John V. Babcock.
Footnote 9: Violet Voysey, Bayly’s niece.
Footnote 10: Cmdr. Jack P.R. Marriott, R.N. and Commo. Sir Douglas Brownrigg, R.N., were members of Wemyss’ staff.
Footnote 11: Undoubtedly the commission headed by Raymond B. Stevens. See: Stevens to Edward N. Hurley, Vance C. McCormick, and Benedict Crowell, 14 March 1918.