Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

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

 

UNITED STATES NAVAL FORCES OPERATING IN EUROPEAN WATERS.

          U.S.S. MELVILLE, FLAGSHIP

Personal        BASE SIX[Queenstown, Ireland]  30 May 1918.

My dear Admiral:

          It may be that I am about to suggest something to you which it is not within your power to do, and if so, of course, my request may be thrown away and given no consideration; but I have already mentioned this subject to you in correspondence  and I am mentioning it again because I know that the safety of the troop transports is the thing with which you are the most vitally concerned and because it now appears likely that troops will be coming over in increasing numbers, thereby necessitating a greater activity on the part of our ships, and increasing the number of ships and lives for which we must furnish protection. An officer who say [i.e., saw] Church1 in Liverpool just before Church sailed, told me that Church had send work [i.e., sent word] that the LITTLE, KIMBERLEY, and CONNOR were now in the Azores. I knew that there were three destroyers there, as you had told me so, but I did not know which three they were.

          My suggestion to you is that if it lies within your discretion to do so, you detach two destroyers from this Force and send them to relieve LEITTLE and KIMBERLEY at the Azores.

          My reason for the suggestion lies in the fact that Taussig and Johnson3 are the Commanding Officers of these two ships, and they are officers of considerable seniority and considerable experience in the matter of handling escorts in the war zone. As you wrote me before, I am fully confident that we can expect good results from the officers other than those whom we first had on the station, but, in view of the constant changes that are now about to occur in the Commanding Officers of these destroyers, I really think that it would be an excellent thing to have two men like Johnson and Taussig who will not be going home and who will be here and available for duty as the escort commanders for the escorts bringing in troop transports. You understand that it is not the efficiency of the individual officers that I am questioning at all, but we will be sending escorts out in charge of officers who have had no previous experience as escort commander, and that is certainly a condition which we should avoid if we can do so.4

          I hope you will not think me unduly insistent about this matter or officious. I consider it of such great importance that I think it is really my duty to suggest it to you, as it is possible that it may not have occurred to you to make this exchange of ships for the reasons that I have given you above.

Very sincerely yours,

                    /s/ J.R.Poinsett Pringle

Source Note: TL, DLC-MSS, William Sims Papers, Container 79. A heading at the top notes that this is taken from “Admiral Sims Personal File” and this is followed by identifiers “13 J D (c-4)”. Addressed below close “Vice-Admiral Sims, U.S.N./London S.W.1/”.

Footnote 1: Cmdr. John G. Church.

Footnote 2: Church asked to be released from Sims’ staff to work for the Bureau of Steam Engineering.

Footnote 3: Capt. Joseph K. Taussig, Commander, U. S. S. LITTLE, and Comdr. Alfred W. Johnson, Commander, U.S.S. Kimberly.

Footnote 4: LITTLE, Kimberly, and Conner had all already been ordered to Europe and arrived a few days later. LITTLE and Conner spent the rest of the war operating off Brest, France, while Kimberly was stationed at Queenstown. DANFS.