Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Captain Hutchinson I. Cone, Commander, Naval Aviation Forces, Foreign Service, to Vice Admiral William S. Sims, Commander, United States Naval Forces Operating in European Waters

U.S. NAVAL FORCES OPERATING IN EUROPEAN WATERS

U.S. Naval Aviation Forces, Foreign Service

4 Place d’Iena,    

Paris, France.

May 22nd, 1918.    

From:     Commander, U.S. Naval Aviation Forces, Foreign Service.

To:       Force Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Operating in European Waters.

Subject: Report on Co-operation with French, British and U.S. Air Services.

References:    Your cable 2263, May 17th, 1918.1

               Our letter 6978, May 7th, 1918.2

     1.   I have to submit the following statement showing what has been done in order to promote and insure co-operation between the U.S. Naval Aviation Forces, the French, British and U.S. Air Services. It has been the aim of this organization to co-operate in every way possible with all the different interests with whom we deal. For this reason he very general statement of General Pershing,3 that we have failed to co-operate with the U.S. Air Service without stating in what particular, is to be deplored. This organization is put on the defensive much to our disadvantage and it is believed solely because General Pershing has been misinformed.

F R E N C H

     1.   The following relations exist between these Headquarters and the various French Departments and Ministries with which we come into contact in the prosecution of our work. The chief French authorities with whom we deal are, in the order of their importance to us:

(a)  The Ministere de la Marine (especially the Service Aeronautique).

(b)  The Service Technique et Industriel d’Aeronautique Maritime.

(c)  The Sous-Secretariat d’Etat d’Aeronautique Militaire et Maritime.

     2.   We have an active and what I deem efficient liaison between these headquarters and the above departments, which is accomplished in the following manner:

     (a)  Ensign G. A. Smith, USNRF,4 liaison officer in general with all French services, but officially attached to the Minsitere de la Marine and the Service Technique et Industriel.

     (b)  Lieut. De Vaisseau Tanzi, French Navy, attached to these headquarters in an advisory capacity on matters pertaining to lighter-than-air aircraft, and serving as liaison officer with the French authorities occupied with this service at the Ministere de la Marine and the Service Technique et Industriel. The appointment of Lieu. Tanzi was made with the heartiest approval of the French and has given the utmost satisfaction to them and to us.

     (c)  Lieut. Allen, USNRF,5 who acts in matters involving point of law such as the requisitioning of land, the releasing of Americans from the French Army, settlement of damage claims, etc., etc.

     (d)  Sous-Lieut. Deslaurens, of the French Army,6 who is attached to our Supply Department and who is occupied particularly with the drawing up and working out of a system for securing supplies for this Service from the French. This is a complicated problem and his knowledge of the functions of the various French Departments has been very valuable.

     3.   Our liaison work with the French has concerned itself principally with the following activities:

(a)  The construction of Patrol Stations on the French Coast.

(b)  The supplying of these stations.

(c)  The operation of these stations.

(d)  The construction of bases for the Northern Bombing Project

(e)  The supplying of these Bases.

     4.   In all this work we have not only aimed at keeping the Minsitere de la Marine fully informed of our movements and plans and of doing nothing without their approval, but we have scrupulously endeavoured to have them act directly as our agent or representative wherever possible. Thus, where question arise which concern French Ministries other than the Ministere de la Marine, we refrain from dealing officially and directly with those Minsitries and instead present the matter to the Minsitere de la Marine, requesting them to act in our behalf. Our liaison with other Minsitries is thus mainly verbal and informal. In order that we may be able competently to handle all these questions the Minsitere de la Marine has appointed Commandant Pamard7 as an officer especially detailed to furthering of our interests in all matters concerning the various French Bureaus connected with Aviation.

     5.   The policy of dealing as far as possible directly with one Ministry only has been exceedingly successful and has been the means of avoiding many complications in which we might have become involved through an excusable lack of knowledge of the complicated French bureau system and its intricacies.

     6.   The liaison with the Ministere de la Marine is effected through daily visits of our Liaison Officer, who early in November, 1917, was given a desk in the office of the Assistant for Aviation. Later he reported daily to Commandant Gerspach,8 Assistant to Capitaine de Vaisseau Chauvin,9 who is the chief of the Service Aeronautique at the Ministry. Later still the French appointed a special liaison officer with whom our liaison officer is in constant touch. Aside from these officers there is Commandant Pamard, and various other officers of the Ministry with whom we are on the friendliest terms. All of these officers we consult constantly both formally and informally.

     7.   The liaison with the Service Technique et Industriel is effected through frequent visits by Lieut. De Vaisseau Tanzi and our liaison officer, Ensign Smith, who are in constant touch with the chiefs of the various Departments; Lieut. Tanzi with the “Aerostation” and Ensign Smith with the “Aviation,” “Moteurs”, etc. It is to be noted that all official communications from us which concerns the Service Technique et Industriel pass to it through the Ministere de la Marine. The liaison is established primarily that we may keep in touch with the French technical and industrial situation and that we may obtain information of that nature. In return we advise them of our plans and our relations are close and cordial.

     8.   In order to make sure that our relations are satisfactory I have caused certain inquiries to be made of the Chief of the Service Aeronautique at the Ministere de la Marine and also of his aide. As far as I can learn their answers were to the effect that entire and satisfactory co-operation exists and they pointed out that there has always existed the closest co-operation, that we have kept the Minister de la Marine constantly up to date on all of our projects, that before our plans have been matured we have always submitted them verbally and informally and that when the plans took definite shape we have always advised them officially in writing. In short, they seem to be completely satisfied and highly pleased with the existing relations.

B R I T I S H

     1.   Our liaison with the British Air Service is maintained through your office, Lieut. Edwards,10 in charge, and of course the Force Commander is thoroughly familiar with this matter. As far as my information goes and from conversations with different British Air Officers, I have met on all sides with enthusiastic praise of the cordial relations existing between Lieut. Edwards and all British officials.

     2.   In Paris the British maintain what amounts to a Supply Division, whose knowledge of the character and performance of the various French firms engaged in the manufacture of aviation material has always been at our service and has been invaluable to us. This section helps us almost dialy <daily> in the matter of contracts,and is generally giving us the benefit of their extended experience in a business way in securing aviation supplies in France.

     3.   Three British Officers, Commander Spenser Grey, Major Davis and Captain Allerenshaw,11 are working with us as part of our organization and are rendering to us invaluable service. The services of Commander Grey were temporarily loaned to us by our Army with whom he is serving.

     4.   In addition to this there has been established cordial relations with British Air Authorities who are in control of the air activities in the region of Dunkerque and as far as I know our relations have been everything that could be desired.

U.S.  A I R  S E R V I C E

     1.   The Force Commander is referred to my letter of May 17th, number 6978, which covers this subject quite fully. In November, 1917, we established a liaison officer with the U.S. Air Service. He was given a room at their office building and our relations were cordial and intimate. These relations have been maintained here in Paris with the U.S. Air Service office, but as explained in my letter above mentioned, it has been impracticable to thoroughly co-operate with the controlling authorities.

     2.   They have always been promptly informed verbally of our plans as they were conceived and have been furnished with definite written statements as soon as such plans were completed. They have been given our organization chart, lists of our Patrol Stations, program for 1919, bombing program and in fact every thing is exactly as it has been furnished to the Force Commander. No comment or criticism has ever been received from them on any of these plans nor has the U.S. Air Service furnished us with its own program or organization charts, although requested to do so. Our attempt to co-operate was taken to the extent that all communications to the Force Commander on the subject of the disbanding of the European Committee of the Aircraft Production Board were previously submitted to the Chief of Air Service for comment, criticism and advice and they were frequently changes at the suggestion of the Chief of the Air Service.12 On our part we have received only copies of correspondence with the Commander-in-Chief of the American Expeditionary Force after it had been forwarded and without opportunity to comment.

     II.  There is forwarded herewith the correspondence between the Secretary of the Navy and Secretary of War,13 which was received from Washington this date. It is not known in what manner General Pershing considers that these Forces have failed to co-operate with the Army authorities, but if by chance it should concern the Northern Bombing Project, the decisions of the Secretary of the Navy and the Secretary of War are clear on this point, and, of course, this office is in no way responsible for such matters.

     III. It is hoped that the Force Commander will fully understand that all of our liaison and obligations to other organizations here suffers greatly from a lack of sufficient officer personnel.

     IV.  In conclusion, it is desired to emphasize the fact that the U.S. Army has helped us in every possible way and up to date the benefit from all our co-operations has been largely in our favor.

/S/ H. I. CONE.         

Source Note: Cy, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517B. Document reference: “7187. . . 1/3/G/J.”

Footnote 1: See: Sims to Cone, May 17th, 1918.

Footnote 2: Sims' letter to Cone from 7 May has not been found.

Footnote 3: Maj. Gen. John J. Pershing, Commander, American Expeditionary Forces.

Footnote 4: Ens. George H. Smith, U. S. N. R. F.

Footnote 5: Lt. Frederick H. Allen, U. S. N. R. F.

Footnote 6: Sous-Lieut. Marcel Deslaurens.

Footnote 7: Cmdr. Leon Ernest Alfred Pamard, a member of the First Section of the Ministry of Marine.

Footnote 8: Cmdr. Marie Joseph Emile Leon Jules Gerspach.

Footnote 9: Capt. Ernest A. Chauvin.

Footnote 10: Lt. Walter A. Edwards head of the Aviation Section of Sims' staff.

Footnote 11: Royal Air Force officers Lt. Cmdr. Spenser D. A. Grey, Major Richard B. Davis, and Capt. Reginald E. Ollerenshaw.

Footnote 12: Col. William Mitchell.

Footnote 13: Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels and Secretary of War Newton D. Baker.

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