Skip to main content

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


NO <4254>                                    (C-4)




BASE SIX.1                  

7 May 1918.             

My dear Admiral:

          Your letter of May 4th just received.2 I certainly agree with you that Beehler’s device appears to be only <one> possessing great possibilities, and I trust that we shall be able to realize them. When I talk with Brown,3 the Commanding Officer of the PARKER, I gathered from him that that what they seemed to need in this connection would be a more sufficient coordination of the K tube and Beehler’s device.4 Anyway, Beehler has demonstrated possibilities and I hope he will be able to develop something of great practicable value.

          I wrote you a little addenda to my letter about Hanrahan,5 telling you that I hoped you would not misunderstand my <ex>impression about Hanrahan having turned down the duty, and after having done so, I had an interview with Roger Williams who expressed himself as being very willing and pleased to accept the detail. I accordingly wrote you a letter concerning this and upon the receipt of your letter of May 4th, which I am answering now, and which came last night, I wired you that Roger Williams would accept the duty, so that in case you have not yet cabled for an officer from home, you might consider Williams’ detailed.

          Mr. Macfarlane and his wife6 are both very pleasant people, and I think Mr. Macfarlane is anxious to write some articles that will portray the human interest side or local color as it is otherwise expressed, and that he will probably turn out something readable. I forwarded you yesterday the first article which I have received from either one of the other two correspondents wh<o>ole came here at the same time.7 I looked it over and then sent it up to the Admiral’s office,8 and his consent to its publication, as amended slightly by me, was given. Messrs. Higgins and Breede were only here thirty six hours or so and I had only one short interview with them.

          I certainly hope that we shall not have any trouble on account of the conditions in this country,9 and I think that we can avoid it by the exercise of tact and discretion, but, as I have before written you, I think it is a good policy to provide for the exercise for that tact and discretion so far as we are able to do so, and I am very glad indeed to hear of your contemplated action with regard to three competent commissioned officers for duty at the isolated air stations. Some friction has already arisen between Captain Hurd (SNO at Berehaven)10 and the officer in charge of the detachment at Whiddy Island (Ensign Peterson).11 Admiral Bayly has given me for my information a personal letter which he has received from Captain Hurd in which Captain Hurd states that he did not get a very favorable impression of Ensign Peterson’s attitude upon the occasion of a visit to Whiddy Island which he, Captain Hurd, made for the purpose of offering assistance, etc. He states as follows:

“Of course I may be wrong in my impression and it may be due only to an unfortunate manner. It is too early to judge yet. I have tried to make him understand that I want to help in every way to get things done to start the Station.”

I was unable to see McCrary12 yesterday in reference to this matter, but I will see him today and talk the matter over with him. I think McCrary has already had some difficulties in connection with the Whiddy Island Station, but I hope we will be able to get the thing straightened out.

          Hart13 stopped by to see me night before last on his way down to Berehaven, and I told him that while I did not think that he was in any way entitled to interfere in the interior routine, administration, etc. of the Air Detachments<,> as that was directly under the command of McCrary, yet I did think that<,> in case general conditions became such as to lead him to believe that some advice were needed by the officer in charge of those stations, that he should consult with Captain Hurd and issue such general policies for the conduct of affairs as he deemed necessary, informing McCrary and myself at the same time of what he had done.

          As I have before written you, I am permitted to see the secret information with regard to the conditions throughout Ireland which is received by the authorities here, and you will understand that my estimate of the conditions which are likely to prevail is based upon that information. The authorities here consider that the appointment of Lord French as Viceroy14 foreshadows the application of a policy such as that recommended in the estimate of the situation which I sent you some days ago.

          Lieutenant Commander Davy15 has arrived and I am very glad that he came over as it gives us a chance to explain to a Bureau of Navigation representative our needs and necessities with regard to further accommodation for personnel at the Base. He informs me that the Bureau has <is> prepared to cooperate in every way with regard to facilities for housing men, and that all that is necessary is to let them know our needs.

          A board of which Price16 is senior member is now considering installation to be put at White Point, and I believe that we can develop this very nicely in connection with the hospital. Doctor Carpenter17 has arrived and the board and himself are working together in connection with the development of the whole project. I am sorry to say that the military huts about which I wrote you some days ago will not be available for our use as they are urgently needed in connection with a hospital building to be established at Dublin.

          I was delighted to get your authorization for the storeshed and we will proceed with the work at once.

          Nothing of importance has developed since my last letter to you, and things are running along very smoothly.

          The Commander-in-Chief sent for Captain Price yesterday morning, and informed him of the fact that he (Price) would go on 5 days leave on May 14th. Price has not the slightest desire to go on leave, but I think you may expect him in London on or about Wednesday, May 15th.18

          Many thanks for your letter.

Very sincerely yours,        

JRPoinsett Pringle 

Source Note: TLS, DLC-MSS, Josephus Daniels Papers, Box 79. Addressed below close: “Vice-Admiral Wm.S.Sims, U.S.N.,/30 Grosvernor Gardens,/London, S.W. 1.”

Footnote 1: Queenstown, Ireland.

Footnote 2: See, Sims to Pringle, 7 May 1918, DLC-MSS, William Sims Papers, Box 79.

Footnote 3: Lt. Cmdr. Wilson Brown, Jr.

Footnote 4: For more on Lt. Weyman P. Beehler’s listening device, see: Pringle to Sims, 19 April 1918.

Footnote 5: Capt. David C. Hanrahan, Commander, Santee, refused a posting as Liaison to Maj. Gen. John J. Pershing, Commander, American Expeditionary Forces. See: Pringle to Sims, 27 April 1918.

Footnote 6: Journalist Peter Clark MacFarlane of the Saturday Evening Post and his wife Florence E. MacFarlane.

Footnote 7: Otto P. Higgins of Kansas City Star and Adam Breede of Hastings Daily Tribune.

Footnote 8: Adm. Sir Lewis Bayly, Commander-Southern Ireland.

Footnote 9: For more on this, see: Bayly to the Admiralty, 28 April 1918.

Footnote 10: Commo. Hugh L. P. Heard.

Footnote 11: Ens. William Peterson, U. S. N. R. F.

Footnote 12: Cmdr. Frank R. McCrary.

Footnote 13: Cmdr. Thomas C. Hart, Commander, Division Five, Submarine Force, Atlantic Fleet.

Footnote 14: Field Marshal John D. P. French. Since 1916, French had served as Commander-in-Chief, Home Forces, but at the time of this letter, had just accepted an appointment as Lord Liuetenant of Ireland in a bid of Prime Minister David Lloyd George to extend conscription to Ireland.

Footnote 15: Lt. Cmdr. Charles G. Davy.

Footnote 16: Capt. Henry B. Price, Commander, Dixie.

Footnote 17: Medical Inspector Dr. Dudley N. Carpenter.

Footnote 18: See: Sims to Pringle, 16 May 1918.