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 Captain Joel R. Poinsett Pringle, Chief of Staff, Destroyer Flotillas

March 29th. 1918.

My dear Pringle,

          Referring to your letters of March 25th. and 26th.1 I am sending an official authorization for you to exercise your discretion in the matter of allowing men of the character of Mr.Sheehan2 access to all information that is necessary for him to write up the story of the Flotilla. My policy on this matter is one of the maximum permissible liberality. I think what the Flotilla is doing should be written up thoroughly and completely by competent men. I see no possible objection whatever to allowing a man of the character of Mr.Sheehan to go over the accounts of the actions of our destroyers in convoying, in attacking submarines, and so forth and so forth. I do not see that this can do the slightest harm to anybody provided the articles that he writes are subject to our scrutiny and censorship.

          There has apparently been a considerable change of heart on this subject both in the British Admiralty and at home. They have loosened up on us to the extent that they are now allowing us to write up bits of stories and send them across to the other side for publication. The more of these stories that can be published on this side the better it is for our service. Anything whatever about the Navy is very eagerly read by the entire American public.

          In this connection I was surprised the other day to be told by a well known American correspondent that I had the reputation of blocking the press on this side. You may be sure that I at once informed him very clearly as to where the block was; that I had always approved of the maximum permissible amount of information being given out to the press at all times.

          It is a long time since I have regretted anything so much as my inability to visit Queenstown when Admiral Wemyss was there, but you know the reason I could not do so. The same day he left for Queenstown I had to leave for Paris to attend a conference at Versailes.3 Upon my return I found many important things to be attended to, not to mention that I would not like to be away at the time of such a serious crisis as the present.

          We are consulting the various army and navy authorities of the Allies as to whether they would like to have us send any men who are available at air stations and so forth in France, to the Western Front to help in any way that they possibly can.4

          As I told you in my letter a day or so ago, Admiral Wemyss is extremely enthusiastic about his visit to Queenstown. He told me that he had also written you a letter.5

          I hope to be able to visit Queenstown before very long but I cannot make any guess just now as to when this may be.

Very sincerely yours,

Source Note: TL, DLC-MSS, William Sims Papers, Box 79. Addressed below close: “Captain J.Poinsett Pringle. U.S.N./U.S.S. MELVILLE./Queenstown. Ireland.”

Footnote 1: Pringle’s letter of 25 March has not been found, but for his letter of the 26th, see: Pringle to Sims, 26 March 1918.

Footnote 2: Henry Sheehan was an writer for Atlantic Monthly. See: Pringle to Sims, 11 March 1918.

Footnote 3: For additional details on this meeting, see: Sims to William S. Benson, 25 March 1918.

Footnote 4: See, Sims to Henry B. Wilson, 30 March 1918, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517B.

Footnote 5: Sims’ letter to Pringle concerning the visit of First Sea Lord Admiral Sir Rosslyn Wemyss, has not been found. For Wemyss’ very complimentary report on his visit, however, see: Wemyss to Sims, 26 March 1918.

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