Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Rear Admiral William S. Sims, Commander, United States Destroyers Operating from British Bases, to Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels

CABLE DISPATCH

    

SENT:   May 23rd or 24th.          TO: Secretary of the Navy

THROUGH: British Code.

Melville arrived evening twentytwo May in excellent condition after uneventful passage (stop) Escorted through dangerous areas by three American destroyers1 (stop) Cooperation and relations between British and our forces excellent in all respects and military operations proceeding very satisfactorily (stop) All destroyers present are on regular patrol schedule with British forces as previously reported (stop) During period ninth to twentyfirst May2 our destroyers encountered and drove under six submarines and convoyed four specially valuable ships with munitions and four valuable ships and numerous others (stop) Rescued crews of four merchant ships sunk by submarines (stop) Four have been fired at with torpedoes by unseen submarines evidently from long range (stop) Berehaven3 mined fifteen May first time during war (stop) Submarine attacks this area well below average past week but in view past experience difficult to draw conclusions therefrom (stop) No material casualties interfering with military duty our destroyers to date except Wainwright blower delay two days4 (stop) Imperative that each destroyer have six officers and that the proportion of experienced officers and men previously requested for reliefs arrive at earliest date5 (stop) Melville should have optical tools and optical machinists and destroyers should have increased supply of better binoculars for night and day (stop) Majority of present glass equipment not efficient and casualties severe (stop) When may supply and oil ships be expected (stop)6 Services Captain Pratt as Chief Staff very urgently needed7 (stop)

SIMS.         

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

Footnote 1: In a letter to his wife on 23 May, Sims wrote that he and VAdm. Sir Lewis Bayly, Commander, Coast of Ireland, was “quite anxious” for Melville’s “safety,” adding that the ships was “loaded down with all sorts of necessary supplies for the destroyers and has all sorts of special machinery for repairing them.” See, Sims to Anne Hitchcock Sims, 23 April 1917, DLC-MSS, William S. Sims Papers. See also: Bayly to Josephus Daniels, 25 May 1917.

Footnote 2: The American destroyers at Queenstown began their patrolling operations on 9 May.

Footnote 3: Berehaven, Ireland, was the advance base for the destroyers at Queenstown.

Footnote 4: According to Cmdr. Joseph K. Taussig, Commander, Queenstown Destroyer Force, it was Conyngham that needed repairs and the issue was its turbines. Taussig Diary, entries on 19 and 20 May 1917, RNW, Joseph K. Taussig Papers, Mss. Coll. 97, Naval Historical Collection.

Footnote 5: For more on Sims' ideas concerning this relief force, see: Sims to Daniels, 30 May 1917.

Footnote 6: On the dispatch of fuel ships to Queenstown, see: Daniels to Sims, 9 June 1917.

Footnote 7: This was not the first time that Sims requested that Capt. William V. Pratt be assigned to serve on his staff. See: Sims to Navy Department, 8 May 1917; and Sims to Daniels, 21 May 1917. In a letter to his wife on 23 May, Sims wrote that Pratt had asked to join Sims and was doing his best to “induce” the department to allow him to come to England. Sims added that it would not be “good business” for the Navy “to decline to let me have him” as he had asked for Pratt “in five different cables.” Sims to Anne Hitchcock Sims, 23 May 1917, DLC-MSS, William S. Sims Papers. Despite these repeated requests, Pratt remained in Washington as part of the staff of Adm. William S. Benson, Chief of Naval Operations.

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