Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

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

May 7th. 1918.     

My dear Pringle,

          Your letter of May 4th. just received. I note particularly what you say about Hanrahan turning the proposition down.1

          So little am I suspicious of anybody being offensive that it had never for a single moment occurred to me that there was anything wrong in the phrase. I could not possibly suspect Old Bill of treating me in any way except with complete respect. I like him for saying exactly what he means. I do not blame him in the least bit for not wanting to go on this job with Pershing if it does not appeal to him. That is a kind of matter for each man to decide himself. Undoubtedly the billet with Pershing will be interesting, but if he is more interested in his present job it is perfectly right for him to say so.

          We have just received your cable saying that Roger Williams2 would be willing to take the job. I will therefore order him to come down here to London so we can put him through a course of sprouts on the question of handling convoys, and so forth, before he goes over to the Army headquarters. I am not asking permission to do this but will explain in my cable to the Department that while I appreciate their desire to keep the destroyer people in the same service still this is a billet which is necessary to be filled and it requires a man who is on to the game and then I will ask them to send a man over to take his place.

          I have written very fully to both Admiral Benson and Palmer about Berry.3 I have told them the condition in which I think he is now. I wrote a postscript to these letters saying that since they were written I had had a conversation with Berry, and also that certain remarks of his to an officer at Liverpool had been reported to me to the effect that he was going home and expected to be back in three or four weeks with a new destroyer or else have himself made Chief of Bureau of Navigation – he had not quite made up his mind. I have a sort of an idea that he will not be back this way but you can never tell what political influence will do.

          I note what you say concerning the numerous correspondents who are writing up the human interest stuff. I do not think you will have any trouble with the Macfarlane family and for all we know he may be able to do a very good stunt indeed in the way of describing our naval operations with a fictional setting. I have not seen the SATURDAY EVENING POST of April 20th, but will try and get hold of a copy to read the article by Paine.4

          I want to be able to get up to Queenstown one of these days, but just now I cannot see my way clear to getting away.

          I had a call today from an official of Cammel Laird’s5 who has to do particularly with repairs. I told him that all of the destroyer captains that passed through London invariably told me that they did excellent work for them. We also had a long talk about a proposition to increase the facilities at their works for handling the docking and overhaul of our destroyers when they become more numerous on this side. I think this is in a fair way of being settled for all of our anti-submarine craft in both Great Britain and France.

          In reference to the weekly report I find that it was a pure accident that they stopped sending it to you. It will be sent hereafter regularly.6

Very sincerely yours,        

Source Note: Cy, DLC-MSS, William S. Sims Papers, Box 79. Addressed below close: “Captain J.R. Poinsett Pringle. U.S.N./U.S.S. MELVILLE./Queenstown, Ireland.” Document reference: “1/3/J/D.” Document is from: “Admiral Sim’s Personal File.”

Footnote 1: Pringle’s letter to Sims has not been found, but for more information, see: Pringle to Sims 29 April 1918; and Sims to Pringle 4 May 1918, DLC-MSS, William S. Sims Papers, Box 79. Cmdr. David C. Hanrahan turned down the position of Naval Liaison to Maj. Gen. John J. Pershing, U.S.A., Commander, American Expeditionary Forces.

Footnote 2: Cmdr. Roger Williams.

Footnote 3: Adm. William S. Benson, Chief of Naval Operations, and RAdm. Leigh C. Palmer, Chief of the Bureau of Navigation, and Cmdr. Robert L. Berry. Berry was the commanding officer of the Manley on 19 March 1918, when, during a convoy escort, the destroyer collided with the British auxiliary cruiser Montague, causing the accidental detonation of one of Manley's depth charges. Manley’s stern was practically destroyed, and 33 enlisted men, as well as executive officer, Lt. Cmdr. Richard M. Elliot Jr., were killed in the explosion. At a court of inquiry held on 28 March, Berry was convicted for the error that caused the disaster, but was granted clemency in light of the frequency of collisions and the aberrant nature of the explosion. DANFS. See: Sims to Palmer, 29 April 1918; and Sims to Benson, 30 April 1918.

Footnote 4: Journalist Peter Clark MacFarlane of the Saturday Evening Post and his wife Florence E. MacFarlane and journalist Ralph D. Paine.

Footnote 5: Cammel Laird is a British shipbuilding company.

Footnote 6: For an example, see: Sims to Josephus Daniels, 12 May 1918.