Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Rear Admiral William S. Sims, Commander, United States Destroyers Operating from British Bases, to Navy Department

CABLE DISPATCH.

Sent: from PARIS about May 5th, 1917.   TO: Navy Department.         

     Relations with French Navy very satisfactory (stop) Conference with Minister1 and Chief of Staff2 and French Attache London3 and British Attache Paris4 and First Sea Lord5 resulted in unanimous agreement our destroyer force remain concentrated and attack enemy submarines in whatever area they may be operating in greatest numbers, probably principally in area from south to west north-west of Fastnet.6 <15005>

SIMS.7

NO. OF COPIES.    6.                    REFERENCE NO.

Source Note: C, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517. The reference number in angle brackets just before the signature was added by someone in pencil.

Footnote 1: French Minister of Marine Lucien Lacaze.

Footnote 2: The Chief of French Naval Staff was Vice Adm. Ferdinand de Bon.

Footnote 3: French Naval Attaché Adm. Maurice-Henri Baron Mercier de Lostende.

Footnote 4: Capt. Fitzmaurice M. Acton.

Footnote 5: Adm. Sir John R. Jellicoe.

Footnote 6: Fastnet, a small islet in the Atlantic Ocean, is the southernmost point in Ireland. It lies 4 miles southwest of Cape Clear Island and 8 miles from County Cork on the Irish mainland.

Footnote 7: On 4 May, Sims wrote his wife that the group had reached “the exact conclusion for which I have been contending and which I have been recommending to Washington.” Sims to Anne Hitchcock Sims, 4 May 1917, DLC-MSS, Sims Papers. In congressional hearings in 1920, Sims used this cablegram to argue that French naval authorities were “in complete agreement as to the necessity of concentrating our effort in one area,” the coast of Ireland. Sims said he was surprised when he learned “later in the month” that the Navy Department had ignored his advice and would send “patrol vessels” to operate on the French coast. Sims was also angered because he was not given any details concerning this deployment despite repeatedly asking for it. Naval Investigation: 122-23. However when wrote his wife on 4 May he mentioned that he had learned that “50 patrol boats” were soon to be sent to France and that he was to command them. He did not complain in this letter but only reveled in the fact that he was to command “all anti-submarine craft in European waters,” adding “Clearly, this is the most important and responsible American naval command so far in the war.” Sims to Anne Hitchcock Sims, 4 May 1917, DLC-MSS, William S. Sims Papers.  Moreover, in a cable of 2 May, Adm. Dudley R. S. De Chair reported that the French delegation, then in the United States, was “much disgruntled” by the “concessions” made to the British concerning the destroyers. De Chair to British Admiralty, 2 May 1917, UK-KeNA, Adm. 137/655. Finally, Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels noted in an entry of his diary on 7 May that he was visited by Adm. William S. Benson, Chief of Naval Operations, and RAdm. Leigh C. Palmer, head of the Bureau of Navigation, who urged Daniels “to send an Admiral to France as well as England.” Daniels however decided “After cablegram from Sims it was clear that there ought to be only one command abroad.” DLC-MSS, Josephus Daniels Papers, Diary, Roll 1.

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