Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Captain Joel R. Poinsett Pringle, Chief of Staff, Destroyer Flotillas, to Vice Admiral William S. Sims, Commander, United States Naval Forces Operating in European Waters

          UNITED STATES SHIP MELVILLE

                    20 May 1918

My dear Admiral,

          Your letter of May 16 with reference to the conduct of officers here reached me safely1

          Of course, since you say that your reports were circumstantial, it would seem a dangerous thing for me to say that there is no foundation in fact for them, but I do say with all honesty and sincerity that I have no reason to think that any such conditions exist. It may well be that your informant has seen or heard of some case where an officer or officers have been guilty of over indulgence in liquor – that is always possible – but that there is any general condition of that kind prevailing either among the seniors or among the juniors, is not in my judgement, a fact.

          Ever since I first took charge I have been most careful to see to it that the conduct of our officers should be such as to give no ground for criticism and I have on several occasions sent for all C.O.’s of ships and given them a talk on the subject. The latest occasion was some three months ago when I heard rumors that some of the younger officers had been conducting themselves in such a manner as to give ground for criticism and I have reason to believe that my talk to the C.O’s on that occasion has resulted in removing all casue for criticism.

          As for the immorality, I have never heard one word of anything of that kind.

          After reading your letter I sent for Bryant, Church and Carpender2and asked them if they had heard of any conduct on the part of any of our officers that would justify the statements made to you. I did this because of course I would be the last man to hear of these things if they happened, - As I do not think that any officer in the Flotilla has any misunderstanding of my attitude in regards to such behavior or any doubt as to what my action would be in case it came to my notice, - Not one of these three officer[s] had heard of any such conduct. The point about this is, in my judgement, that no such gene[r]al condition could exist without its being known by common report to some of them, as they naturally would hear of it.

          However since your letter has come I propose to take such steps as will result in assuring me that no such conditions shall exist and I am sure that it will be an easy matter so to do for I do not believe that they exist now, and I am very sure a word to the C.O’s will insure against their arising. I am very sorry indeed that such reports should reach you not because I admit that they are well founded, but because I know they add to they add to an already heavy burden, but you may in this case, as in every other, depend on my using my best efforts to arrange matters so that they may be satisfactory to you, and the only reason why these things worry me is found in the fact that they tend to indicate that I am not on my job.

Very sincerely yours,        

/s/ J.R.POINSETT PRINGLE     

Source Note: TLS, DLC-MSS, William Sims Papers, Box 79.

Footnote 1: See: Sims to Pringle, 16 May 1918.

Footnote 2: Lt. Cmdr. Samuel W. Bryant, Cmdr. John G. Church, and Lt. Arthur S. Carpender. Braynt and Carpender commanded the destroyers Allen and Fanning, respectively.

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