Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

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

May 16th. 1918.

My dear Pringle,

          I want to communicate to you privately and confidentially a very disquieting report that has come to me in a very circumstantial manner from Queenstown, and that is to the effect that there has been a very considerable amount of drinking there lately.

          I have gone into this carefully enough to be convinced, though I hope that I am wrong, that this is not idle gossip. That a good many of the young officers are not only over indulging in this matter, but that there are some very regrettable instances of immorality in connection with women. One of the very serious parts of this business is that some of the men concerned are married men.

          But perhaps the most serious part of the whole business is that the excessive indulgence in alcohol referred to has not been wholly on the part of the younger officers, that the example has been set them by some of their seniors.

          A word to the wise is sufficient. I am sure that you will appreciate how serious it would be if any conduct of this kind should result in doings that would require an extensive and official investigation to get at the bottom of the whole of it.

          Will you therefore look into it, as far as you may think necessary and take such measures, or advise me as to such measures that will put a stop to it in such a way that there shall not be the slightest danger of any recurrence.

          As I said above, I hope that my information on this subject is entirely in error, but it has been of such a circumstantial nature that it could not be ignored.1

Very sincerely yours,

Source Note: TL, DLC-MSS, William Sims Papers, Box 79. Addressed below close: “Capt. J.R.P. Pringle.U.S.N./U.S.S. PRINGLE/QUEENSTOWN.” There was no U.S.S. Pringle. It should have been U.S.S. Melville. Note at top: “Admiral Sims Personal File.” Identifying number in top center of the copy: “1/3/J/D.”

Footnote 1: In his reply-dated 20 May 1918-Pringle wrote that there was “no foundation in fact” for these reports of excessive drinking or immorality. See: Pringle to Sims, 20 May 1918.

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