Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Diary of Commander Joseph K. Taussig, Commander, Destroyer Division Eight

Saturday

May 19 [1917]

Queenstown

     This morning returned to Queenstown for our two days of rest and recreation- Found the Rowan, Cummings Cassin Ericsson, Winslow, Jacob Jones, and Tucker in port,1 they having arrived two days ago- The Conyingham were is also in port- fixing up her turbines which required some of the blading removed.

     As soon as the Wadsworth moored to the oil dock, Courtney, Neal Vernow, Nichols, Wygart, Bagley and Hutchins came on board.2 There was much talking all round, but I am inclined to think that I did the most of it- A little later Admiral Sims came on board. He is staying for a while at the Admiralty House as the guest of Vice Admiral Bayly.3 Babcock4 is there with him also - Daniel who is assigned to his staff came over on the Ericsson, but will live on the Melville when she arrives;5 and have an office at Admiralty House. Courtney says his division came over without mishap, but that the passage was rough with the sea behind them, fortunately -

     Babcock handed me the following, which was viewed May 8th at the Embassy, London:

“No. 14007. To Naval Attache.

     Taussig and Johnson are directed to assume the rank of commander. Their commissions have been signed by the President.

                              Daniels,6 Secretary Navy.”

     I think it was very nice of the Department to send this cablegram, but as Senior Officer Present I had already authorized myself to assume the rank of Commander and had been wearing the uniform since my arrival here-

     We received our first mail from the States, and although the last date was May 3d, it was a great relief and pleasure to hear from Lulie and Mother and Father-7 They of course had no word from us since our departure.

     As the Admiralty here just made public the announcement of our arrival, the papers are publishing the news for the first time. The attached clipping is from the Cork Evening Echo of May 18, 19178

     The last paragraph reads as if Admiral Sims had come over with us, instead of having preceded us; He was not present in Queenstown when we arrived.9

Source Note: D, RNW, Joseph K. Taussig Papers, Mss. Coll. 97, Naval Historical Collection. The diary is written on ruled paper with a vertical line one inch in along the left margin. The date and place is written in that space. It is repeated when the diary entry continues to a second page. In the midst of the entry, Taussig included an article from the Cork Evening Echo of 18 May entitled: “U.S. DESTROYERS/QUEENSTOWN VISIT.” The content is discussed by Taussig in this entry. Taussig commanded the U.S. destroyer Wadsworth.

Footnote 1: Taussig first wrote Cummings, but then crossed it through and added Cassin above the line. These destroyers, including Cassin, were part of the Ninth Division, which was the second group of destroyers sent to Queenstown. For more on the division and their arrival, see: William S. Sims to Josephus Daniels, 19 May 1917. Cummings came to Queenstown later in May as part of the third division of U.S. Navy destroyers sent there.

Footnote 2: These officers were: Cmdr. Charles E. Courtney, division commander and captain of Rowan; Lt. Cmdr. Walter N. Vernou of Cassin; Lt. Cmdr. Neil E. Nichols of Winslow; Lt. Cmdr. BenyaurdB. Wygant of Tucker); Lt. Cmdr. David W. Bagley of Jacob Jones; Lt. Cmdr. Charles T. Hutchins, Jr. of Ericsson. The officer whose name was crossed out was Lt. Cmdr. George Neal, commander of Cummings. As seen in the note above, Taussig at first mistakenly included it in this division of destroyers.

Footnote 3: RAdm. William S. Sims, commander of American destroyers in European waters; VAdm. Lewis Bayly, R.N., commander of the British base at Queenstown.

Footnote 4: Cmdr. John V. Babcock, Sims’ aide.

Footnote 5: Sims assigned Cmdr. Joseph F. Daniels to the Destroyer Flotilla staff, which was housed on the tender Melville, which arrived in Queenstown on 22 May.

Footnote 6: Alfred W. Johnson, commander of Conyngham, and Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels.

Footnote 7: Lulie Johnston Taussig, his wife; retired RAdm. Edward D. Taussig, his father, and Ellen Kneffler Tausig, his mother.

Footnote 8: The article, which is in Taussig’s diary begins:

Our reporter writes:- The oft-repeated query as to whether an American fleet would, after its country’s declaration of war, come over to this side to take a practical hand in the war game, has not been fully answered by the arrival recently of a flotilla of business-lie, grim-looking torpedo-boat destroyers, and there is no doubt as to their taking a hand at the submarine-smashing game and they already they have had a “brush.” . . .

The article then described the enthusiastic welcome the Americans received, noted the Americans’ pleasure at their reception and their preparedness and enthusiasm to contribute. The reporter then commented that while American naval personnel are drawn “from the manhoods of many countries,” a “vast proportion” were Irish-American or Irish. Finally, the reporter described the uniforms of the Americans.

Footnote 9: The portion of the article discussed by Taussig here reads: “Admiral Sims, who is in charge of the American flotilla on this side, was met on his arrival by the Vice-Admiral commanding at Queenstown, and proceeded with him to Admiralty House after very many hearty greetings, which he courteously acknowledged.” For more on the arrival of the destroyers at Queenstown, see: Diary of Joseph K. Taussig, 3 May 1917.

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