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Vice Admiral William S. Sims, Commander, United States Naval Forces Operating in European Waters, to the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations


Date March 18, 1918

To Opnav

Prepared by CS1         NO 5272


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5272, Your 3942. Third paragraph of my five one five one is in error and should read as follows:-2

     “The Council was strongly of the opinion that from a Naval point of view the requisitioning of four hundred thousand tons of Dutch shipping would not be worth the certain disadvantages which would arise from the entry of Holland into the war on either side”.

     The Council did not specifically and officially consider the probability of Holland entering the war as a result of the requisitioning of her shipping, but limited its investigation to the question proposed to it by the military representatives of the Supreme War Council who requested that the Naval Council examine the naval aspect of Holland remaining neutral or entering the war, first, in alliance with Germany, second, with the Allies.

     Replying catergorically to the four questions contained in cable:

     First: Requisitioning of Dutch tonnage and its effects on Holland was not considered jointly with Supreme War Council, nor with its military representative.

     Second: I do not know views of Supreme War Council as to probability of Holland entering war if Dutch tonnage were seized, nor have I any information of views of Supreme War Council as to advantages or disadvantages of having Holland enter war on either side. I believe that Supreme War Council will formulate its opinion after considering reports of Allied Naval Council and of its own military representatives.

     Third: Opinion of Allied Naval Council regarding Holland entering the war as an ally follows:-

     Disadvantages: Holland’s eastern provinces would pass to the enemy and assist in his food supply. Allies would have to supply western provinces with food, coal, guns, munitions,and men. Tonnage required would go far to nullify advantage of requisitioning. Necessity of preventing German acquisition of additional submarine bases.

     Advantages: Possible acquisition by Allies of Naval and Air bases on flank of enemy naval lines of communication.

     Opinion regarding Holland entering war as enemy follows:

     Disadvantages: Use by enemy of Dutch ports and of Antwerp. German use of Dutch food supply. Loss of our best base for information from enemy country.

     Advantages: None

     Fourth: Allied Naval Council under its constitution does not consider shipping problems either by itself or jointly with War Council. Allied Naval Council has never met with Supreme War Council, and has had but one brief meeting with military representatives solely to present Adriatic question.



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

Footnote 1: Capt. Nathan C. Twining, Sims’ Chief of Staff.

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