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Admiral William S. Benson, Chief of Naval Operations to Admiral Henry T. Mayo, Commander-in-Chief, Atlantic Fleet


25 May, 1917.

My dear Mayo:-

               It is with the greatest reluctance that I have to tell you that in order to meet a most pressing situation, that is, in making up the convoy of troops across the Atlantic, we will have to call upon the Fleet for about forty-four five inch gun crews, signalmen, quartermasters, and radio operators for service on board twelve vessels taken into service, and temporarily, in addition, there will be a demand for at least thirty six officers, part of whom will have to come from the battleships.

     It is fully realized that the battleships already are short but there seems no other way in meeting this emergency and the detachments of officers and men is hoped will be only temporary.

     The men detailed to guns crews, at least one half of them may be recruits, or at least only partly trained, provided there are a sufficient number of gun pointers and men filling the most important positions at the guns, in order to help out the situation.

     I am giving up five officers under me and every effort will be made to meet the demand by officers elsewhere than the fleet, but please realize that we are doing the very best we can under the circumstances.1

     With best wishes,

Very sincerely yours,

W.S. Benson

Source Note: TDS, DLC-MSS, Henry T. Mayo Papers, Box 10. Addressed below close: “Admiral H. T. Mayo, U. S. N.,/Commanding U. S. S. PENNSYLVANIA, Flagship,/C/O Postmaster New York.” Document has, “Confidential” written in the upper left corner. Document is on, “NAVY DEPARTMENT/OFFICE OF NAVAL OPERATIONS/WASHINGTON,” stationery. Document number in upper left corner: “Op-9-B.”

Footnote 1: Mayo responded:

The demands mentioned by you in your letter will be met, but it must be realized that the personnel furnished will necessarily be men who are trained, but not of any experience. Possibly you may not know the amount of the demands which have been made upon us since coming north, for instance within the last forty eight hours, we have been called upon for about seventy five guns’ crews.

Mayo also informed Benson that he would not break up fire and battery control teams without first informing the Bureau of Navigation that transferring these men would have a debilitating effect on the function of the battleships under his command; Mayo to Benson, 27 May 1917, DLC-MSS, Henry T. Mayo Papers, Box 10.