Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Captain William V. Pratt, Assistant Chief of Naval Operations, to All Navy Department Bureaus

( C O P Y )

May 17, 1918.      

SECRET

From:  Chief of Naval Operations.1

To  :  All Bureaus.

Subject:  Organization of a force to operate Naval guns on shores overseas.

     1.   The following order has been issued directing the organization of a force to operate Naval guns on shore overseas:

     1.   The Department directs that a Naval force be organized for the employment of Naval guns on railroad mounts on shore overseas.

     2.   A sufficient personnel for erecting, transporting, and operating should be assigned and the whole force will operate under the direction of the commanding general of the army to which it is assigned. Replacement should be made by the Departments from time to time as may be necessary.

     3.   It is the desire of the Department that in the absence of definite Naval regulations covering the operation of this force, that all orders and regulations that are existing, or which may hereafter be issued by proper authority, should be carried out to the fullest extent, keeping in mind that the mission of this force is to render immediate and effective service in the field of operations and to fully cooperate in all matters with which they are directly concerned.

     4.   This force should be directed to proceed to such port of debarkation as may be designated and will report to the commanding general of the American Expeditionary Forces in France.2

(Signed)  Josephus Daniels.3     

     2.   The Bureaus will take the necessary steps to conform with the above order.4

(Signed) W.V. Pratt,

Acting.

Source Note: Cy, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517B. Document reference: “Op-34-F/s.46-195” and in columnar fashion: “1/3/J/B/S.” Document is from: “Admiral Sim’s Personal File.”

Footnote 1: Adm. William S. Benson, Chief of Naval Operations.

Footnote 2: Maj. Gen. John J. Pershing, U.S.A., Commander, American Expeditionary Forces.

Footnote 3: Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels.

Footnote 4: Despite the impression given in this order, the railway gun project was well underway. In fact, the first mount was completed on 25 April and successfully tested by 2 May. The first contingent of men, 250 enlisted and 8 officers, sailed from Philadelphia to France on 26 May 1918 and the first shipment of material left that same port on 20 June. United States Naval Railway Batteries in France (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1922), passim.

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