Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

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

Mercantile Shipping     

Incoming telegram                            <May 10, 1918.>

From      Pershing, Haef1

To        General Biddle, Americally, Date 10/5.18.

                    Sowest, London.2

Subject        Marseilles to be utilized.

Copies to Commanding General & Admiral Sims  Code – Cypher.

Referred for action to Admiral Sims.

Decoded by     GK        typed by  FMV

TRANSLATION.

CONFIDENTIAL .      For Admiral Sims.

     Following cable received from War Department, Washington “With reference to your cable 1057,3 the Secretary of War4 has notified the Navy Department that the War Department will undertake to utilize Marseille<s> subject to proper escort and suggestion is made that it would be desirable to include ships which are scheduled for that port in present Gibraltar convoy”. To this cablegram the following reply was sent “For the Chief of Staff.5 Reference your 12,0666 Admiral Sims agreed that by using specially selected fast and well armed ships no substantial increased danger exists in their transatlantic movement without convoy. Sending same to Gibraltar in present convoy would probably result in delay turn around some 10 to 15 days on account of loss of time awaiting convoy and slow speed of the same. SIMS states ships going to Bay of Biscay ports also require strong convoy on account of activities smaller type enemy submarines in these waters which submarines are particularly effective with their torpedo fire. Enemy submarines operating off Gibraltar of large type which attack usually with gunfire only and not so effective with torpedoes. Recommend matter be taken up with Navy Department (?) outlined, Navy to select vessels to be used in this movement and type of armament to be installed and that they make transatlantic movement without convoys. Have quoted this cable to Sims with request that he transmit similar recommendation to Navy’s Department”. Understood we have not taken any liberty in reference made to you in War Department cable. As the military situation makes it of utmost importance to us to shorten by every possible means time of turn around, cable your recommendation direct to Navy Department7 as to type of vessel, speed and armament which should be employed in this movement without convoy.

PERSHING.          

Source Note: Cy, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517B. identification numbers “1/5/C/J” appear in the upper right corner.

Footnote 1: That is, Headquarters, American Expeditionary Force.

Footnote 2: Gen. John Biddle, Acting U.S. Army Chief of Staff. “Americally” was the cable address for the U.S. Army Headquarters, London.

Footnote 3: This cable has not been found.

Footnote 4: Secretary of War Newton D. Baker.

Footnote 5: Gen. Peyton C. March.

Footnote 6: This cable has not been found.

Footnote 7: Sims’ response has not been found.

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