Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

Vice Admiral William S. Sims, Commander, United State Naval Forces Operating in European Waters, to Commander Charles R. Train, United States Naval Attaché in Rome

May 16th. 1918.

My dear Train,

          Your letter of May 9th. duly received,1 and I am very glad to have your confidential dope on the naval situation down in Italy. I understood it pretty well, but not some of the intimate details. It is apparent that the antagonism between the Italians and their neighbors is such that it would be nearly impossible for them to act in harmony together, and even if they did the personal element is so strong that they would probably not be able to cooperate efficiently.

          I am glad to say that negotiations are now going on which promise to relieve the difficulty of command and that sort of thing. A proposition has been made to appoint a Admiralissimo for the Mediterranean. This has been accepted by Italy, and negotiations are now going on with France. If this can be brought about, half our difficulties will be solved. Please do not mention this to anyone. I will let you know the result of these negotiations as soon as they are finished.2

          In any case, I think the obstructing official3 should be relegated to the background in some position where he has not sufficient authority to ball the game.

Very sincerely yours,

Sd. W. S. SIMS.

Source Note: Cy, DLC-MSS, William S. Sims Papers, Box 23. Addressed below close: “Commander C.H.Train, U.S.N.,/American Embassy,/Naval Attache.,/R o m e.” Note at top of page: “Admiral Sims’/Personal File.” Identifier in top right-hand corner: “11.” and in columnar fashion: “1/5/6/J/Q.”

Footnote 1: See: Train to Sims, 9 May 1918.

Footnote 2: The proposal, put forward by the British, was to appoint a British officer, Adm. Sir John R. Jellicoe, R.N., as commander of all naval forces in the Mediterranean. However, the proposal ran into opposition and was shelved until late summer when the Americans began pushing it again. Royal Navy in the Mediterranean: 353-55.

Footnote 3: As seen in Train’s letter of 9 May, this was Italian Chief of Naval Staff and fleet commander VAdm. Paolo Thaon di Revel.