Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

United States Consul at Cork Wesley Frost to Secretary of State Robert Lansing

 

No.  375.

AMERICAN CONSULATE

Cork, (Queenstown), Ireland.

May 8, 1917.

SUBJECT:

Arrival of American Destroyer Flotilla at Queenstown.

THE HONORABLE

          THE SECRETARY OF STATE,

                              WASHINGTON

SIR:

I have the honor to report that on the 4th instant a flotilla consisting of six United States naval torpedo boat destroyers reached Queenstown at approximately 3:00 p.m., British Summer Time. This Consulate had been apprised of their prospective advent on the 29th ultimo by Vice Admiral Sir Lewis Bayly, commanding Irish waters. The fact that they were to arrive had been well known from here for a fortnight previously.1

The following is a list of the vessels which have arrived here, and of their commanding officers :

No. 60.   U.S.S. WADSWORTH.       Commander J.K. Taussig.

No. 58.   U.S.S. CONYNGHAM.        Commander A.W. Johnson.

No. 59.   U.S.S. PORTER.       Lieutenant Commander W.K.Wortman.

No. 62.   U.S.S. WAINWRIGHT.      "         " F.H. Poteet.

No. 54.   U.S.S. MAC DOUGALL.      "         " A.P.Fairfield.

No. 65.   U.S.S. DAVIS.            "         " R.F.ZOGBAUM.

Lieutenant Grady,2 an experienced submarine officer of the U.S. Navy, accompanied the flotilla to Queenstown, en route to join the staff of Admiral Sims at London. I have been informed by Admiral Bayly that six additional destroyers left the United States about the 4th instant, and should reach Queenstown about the 15th or 16th instant.3

As this is the first occasion on which American and British armed forces have come into permanent co-operation, the naval authorities, or other authorities of the British Government, evidently judged it well to make the occasion of the landing here somewhat formal. Paymaster Toby of the American Embassy at London and Commander Babcock, aide-de-camp to Admiral Sims,4 were sent over from London on behalf of the United States; and Commander Evans, the hero of the Scott Expedition,5 Commander Churchill, a gunnery expert,6 and (Army) Captain Maddicks, Director of the British Government’s photographic and cinematographic service,7 arrived with Paymaster Toby and Commander Babcock on behalf of the British Government. Captain Maddicks supervised the taking of cinematographic films of several of the ceremonial visits. The weather was excellent; and various shipping companies and offices in Queenstown displayed the Stars and Stripes, this Consulate loaning six or eight flags. The Admiral’s barge containing Commander Churchill, Vice-Consul Sherman, and other officials, proceeded to the various destroyers as soon as they had been berthed, and brought their commanders collectively to the Naval Pier, where they were welcomed by Flag Captain Carpendale,8 XXX myself, and subordinate naval and consular officials. The party then proceeded in motor cars to the Consulate, where they paid a formal visit, and met the Lord Mayor of Cork9 and other civil functionaries. From the Consulate we proceeded, still in motor cars, to Admiralty House to meet Admiral Bayly; and thence to the residence of Brigadier-General St. John, commanding Queenstown forts and garrison. From General St John’s residence the party returned to the Consulate, to the Royal Yacht Club, and to the destroyers. On the 5th instant the commanders, with Commander Evans, Commander Babcock and myself, steamed up the river Lee to Cork in the Admiral’s barge and commanding the South of Ireland; later repairing to the City Hall to return the Lord Mayor’s visit.

General St John and myself but separately, returned the officers’ calls on board the U.S.S. WADSWORTH; and General Doran returned the calls on the WADSWORTH on the afternoon of the 6th instant. The arrangements everywhere went off favorably and without mishap, and the general atmosphere was one of cordiality and goodwill. I was especially pleased at the action of the Lord Mayor, as it indicated that a great body of Irishmen have not been alienated from their esteem for the United States by the latter’s alliance with the country which holds Ireland as a conquered province. I have arranged that the payments of the officers and men of the flotilla shall be made through the Munster and Leinster Bank, the largest genuine Irish bank, instead of through the Bank of Ireland, which is owned by English Unionists. This arrangement has the further advantage of avoiding confusion of the accounts of the American and British naval units stationed here, since the British units are paid through the Bank of Ireland. Various clubs and social associations in and about Cork and Queenstown have given the American officers the freedom of their respective institutions. Mrs. [Priscilla] Frost and myself had the pleasure of entertaining the officers in two instalments at tea on the 6th and 7th instant, and Admiral Bayly gave an informal dinner on the evening of the 4th instant to the Commanding Officers, the Embassy representatives and myself.

The arrangements for shore relief for the enlisted men and petty officers have been made slightly more liberal than those applied to British naval seamen; and during the four days since the flotilla’s arrival all of their crews have had a day ashore. There have been no unpleasant incidents of friction between American and British seamen; although it was to be, and I fear is still anticipated; as there is some slight/English jealousy of the American Navy, and of the popular inference here that its presence was necessary to come to the aid of the British naval vessels.

The vessels are today taking up the duties for which they came, and six destroyers are scheduled to leave Queenstown early this afternoon. It is my understanding that their ordinary patrol duty will mean six days at sea and two in harbor. The WADSWORTH and MAC DOUGALL will repair to Castletownberehaven for their first two days ashore on the 12th instant. The CONYNGHAM and DAVIS will reach Castletown on the 14th instant; and the WAINWRIGHT and PORTER on the 16th instant. After their second period at sea these ships will return to Queenstown for two days each.

The arrival of the six destroyers transpired at a time when the Consulate was overwhelmed with submarine cases, and five such cases have developed during the past four days. One of these cases I have thrown into the hands of the American Consul at Liverpool, and the affidavit in one case was prepared by Mr. Heraty and sworn to before me.10 The other three cases have very kindly been handled by the Vice-Consul Sherman; and I am confident that the Department will be gratified at the manner in which they have been treated. The paramount matter seemed to be attention to the various duties incident upon the arrival of the destroyers, as behind each of the ceremonial visits were substantial suggestions and consultations with regard to the practical conduct of the ships’ affairs while at this base.

I have the honor to be, Sir,

Your obedient servant,

Wesley Frost

American Consul.

Source Note: TDS, DNA, RG 59, M 367, Roll 41. Numerical and handwritten notations for routing and index and bureau stamps are on the first page. Notations on the last page in the left bottom corner: “833./WF/PC./Enclosure.” Someone later made corrections and these changes have been set off by angle brackets.

Footnote 1: Lansing sent a copy of Frost’s letter to Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels. Concerned that the Germans-as well as the people of Queenstown, Ireland-knew of the destroyers’ arrival. Daniels asked Lansing to have Frost find out the source of this information. Daniels to Lansing, 11 June 1917, DNA, RG 59, M367, Roll 42.

Footnote 2: Cmdr. Alfred W. Johnson, Lt. Cmdr. Ward K. Wortman, Lt. Cmdr. Fred H. Poteet, Lt. Cmdr. Arthur P. Fairfield, Lt. Cmdr. Rufus F. Zogbaum Jr., and Lt. Ronan C. Grady.

Footnote 3: The Ninth Destroyer division, the second to be sent to Queenstown from the United States, consisted of Rowan, Cassin, Ericsson, Winslow, Jacob Jones, and Tucker. It arrived at Queenstown on 17 May. Taussig Diary, entry of 19 May 1917, RNW, Joseph K. Taussig Papers, Mss. Coll. 97, Naval Historical Collection.

Footnote 4: Paymaster Eugene C. Tobey; Lt. Cmdr. John V. Babcock.

Footnote 5: Cmdr. E.R.G.R. Evans. For more on Evans, see: Sims to Taussig, 29 April 1917.

Footnote 6: Lt. Cmdr. Kenneth B.M. Churchill.

Footnote 7: Maddicks has not been further identified.

Footnote 8: That is, Harry Tuck Sherman. Charles D. Carpendale was flag captain to Admiral Bayly.

Footnote 9: Thomas C. Butterfield.

Footnote 10: Edward J. Heraty, Frost’s assistant. Soon afterward, Heraty resigned his position to enlist in the U.S. Navy. New York Times, 3 June 1917.

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