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Major General John J. Pershing, Commander, American Expeditionary Forces, to Vice Admiral William S. Sims, Commander, United States Naval Forces Operating in European Waters

Mercantile Shipping

Incoming telegram

From Pershing

To   Admiral Sims.  Date 17. 5. 18.

Coppies to C.C. & Admiral Sims.       Code Cypher.

Referred for action to   xxxxx

Decoded GK          Typed by EDM


May 17th. CONFIDENTIAL. For Admiral Sims. Following cablegram sent to War Department May 16th quoted for your information “No. 1126 May 16th Confidential. For the Chief of Staff.1 Paragraph 1. With ? further reference to? Marseille my cablegram 1057 your cablegram 1266.2 ?We are? offered by the French immediately use of at least 6 berths accom<m>odating vessels drawing 29 1/2 feet when brested 16 1/2 feet from the quays, with estimated daily discharge capacity of 2,500 tons. This will be expanded to 3,500 ? tons? when 2 additional  ? berths? with daily capacity of 1000 tons accom<m>odating ships of same draft are turned over to us probably ?next? October. Also ?we are? offered use of 3 berths at new piers ?under construction?, which at estimated date of completion ?next? November and accom<m>odating vessels drawing 39-1/2 feet will have daily discharge of at least 2000 tons. All the foregoing minimum figures and believe that if emergency arises may be very considerably enlarged. All facilities from Marseille north are excellent and require practically no work except possibly a few storage depots. We can secure storehouses which are immediately necessary for our needs at Marseille and Miramas.3 Orders have been given to establish a base at this port ready to receive cargoes after June 10th. Request you commence to divert ships of type etcetera indicated my cablegram 1092 so as to commence cargoes deliveries at Marseille to maximum capacity of this port after June 10th. For reasons already cabled certain classes of material for the present can only be received at ports already indicated, as for example railroad rolling stock, oil, explosives, etc. Troopships should of course not be sent to this port. There is unquestionably some additional risk in shipment to Marseille, but as previously reported, Admiral Sims is of the opinion that this additional risk is not substantial. However ?   ? on the safe side judgement must be used at your end to see that as little embarrassment as possible would be occasioned here by possible loss of supplies not readily replaceable. On this account would not recommend shipping any particular items of supply solely to Marseille or any individual shipments of which a stock is not maintained ?through? other ports. In view of aviation situation do not recommend for the present shipment aeroplanes on aeroplane motors to Marseille. Subject to foregoing have no Oscillation recommendations to offer at this time as to cargoes for Marseille. Request that information be cabled covering arrangements finally agreed upon with Navy Department, also date you will commence diverting ships to this port. PERSHING.”


Source Note: Cy, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517B. Addressed below close: “Commdr. U.S.Naval Forces/Recr 21 May 1918 – 14899/London.” Document reference in columnar fashion: “1/3/C/J.” Question marks indicates missing or garbled words in transmission.

Footnote 1: Maj. Gen. Tasker H. Bliss, Chief of Staff of the Army.

Footnote 2: The documents referred to have not been found.

Footnote 3: The Army began sending convoys to Marseilles in June 1918. Stills, Crisis at Sea: 491.

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