Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Admiral William S. Benson, Chief of Naval Operations, to Vice Admiral William S. Sims, Commander, United States Naval Forces Operating in European Waters

 

Chronological Copy.                          File No. <4/1/1>

Cablegram Received May <30, 1918.> 03231     JCM

Origin Opnav, Washington (Secnav)                 Ser. No. 6682

A-1 May 31

32 ADR

Simsadus.

6682 Referring your recent despatch, minutes of conference in Paris, Aviation headquarters dated 4 May and recommendations regarding 1919 program with your forwarded endorsements dated 3 May,1 it appears that plans are being formulated for a much more extensive use of day and night bombers than has been approved by the Department in our 5622.2 There is no intention of extending the mission of these bombing squadrons beyond the bombing of enemy naval activities. All other air activities overland come under army. Land machines procured abroad for northern bombing project must be obtained from or in cooperation with the Army as directed in our 50033 and only in sufficient quantity to meet immediate need until land machines can be supplied from this country as follows: 80 day bombers from Army in June and 75 in July <a>nd August for replacements. Delivery of night bombers to begin October. In view of present status of production and vital necessity of equipping Army squadrons on western front, it is necessary for reducing naval northern bombing project to 4 day and 4 night squadrons for the present. Training of Naval personnel on land machines will be limited to number required for immediate need for revised northern bombing project and these will be replaced by marines when conditions permit. Be governed accordingly in plans for future Naval Aviation activities.4 Acknowledge. 14030-6682

Benson.

 

Source Note: Cy, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517B.

Footnote 1: The documents from 3 and 4 May have not been found. The “recent dispatch” is probably a cable Sims sent the previous day in which he strongly urged against amalgamating U.S. Army and Navy aviation forces. See: Sims to the Office of the Chief of Naval Operations, 29 May 1918.

Footnote 4: Competition with the Army for aviation resources was always a problem for the Northern Bombing Group, but the Navy nevertheless pressed forward with it and consistently advocated for increasing the number of bombers and missions. The sole focus remained on enemy naval targets. Lack of resources kept strategic bombing by naval aviation from making a significant impact on the outcome of the First World War, though it did portend the massive bombing campaigns of the Second. Rossano and Wildenberg, Striking the Hornets’ Nest: 193-196, 209-212.

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