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Vice Admiral William S. Sims, Commander, United States Naval Forces Operating in European Waters, to Captain Hutchinson I. Cone, Commander, Naval Aviation Forces, Foreign Service


U.S.S. MELVILLE, Flagship.

30, Grosvenor Gardens,

London, S.W.1 

16th May, 1918.

From:-    Force Commander.

To:-      Commander, U.S. Naval Aviation Forces,

               Foreign Service.

Subject:- U.S. ARMY & NAVY AVIATION SERVICES – Co-operation


1.        The following correspondence, which has been exchanged with the Commander-in-Chief, American Expeditionary Forces, France,1 is quoted for your information:-

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Office of the Commander-in-Chief.

France, May 10 1918.

Admiral Wm. S. Sims, U.S.N.,

     30, Grosvenor Gardens, London.

My dear Admiral Sims:-

          With reference to our Air Services, it seems to me that we have wandered far from the idea of co-ordination and that officers who are handling the Army and Navy Air Services are not working together as they should.

          In principle, I am of the opinion that there should be but one Air Service for both the Army and Navy, but there may be obstacles in the way to its realization. However, there is not that close understanding regarding production and operation that efficiency and economy demand.

          I understand that there are instances where the two Services have actually come into competition in obtaining material. This, of course, can only create an unfavourable impression of our lack of business methods, which affects our efforts to obtain co-operation or unity of purpose in other directions.

          I shall be glad, Admiral, if you would give the matter your consideration with a view to a working understanding between the two services which we represent in European Waters.

          With very high regard and esteem, I remain,

Yours faithfully,       

s/ JOHN J. Pershing.    

Personal.                          U. S. NAVAL FORCES


16, May, 1918.     

My dear General Pershing:-

          With a view to answering your letter of May 10th, 1918 in detail, I have instituted a very thorough investigation of the internal organization and operation of our Naval Air Service, the result of which will be communicated to you together with such suggestions as may appear pertinent looking to a closer co-operation than exists at the present time.2

          It certainly does seem most essential that our two Air Services should work in the closest possible manner and with the utmost harmony to ensure ultimate victory which is our common cause and for which we have been mobilized.

          It gives me grave concern to hear that you are of the opinion that some of the officers who are handling our respective Air Services are not working together as they should, and I agree with you heartily in that such a state of affairs must be remedied at once. In this connection, however, and for your information, I quote the following letter which I wrote on January 24, 1918, and which to date remains unacknowledged:-

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A-1.  7262.                             24 January, 1918.

From:-    Force Commander.

To:-      Major General G.T. Bartlett, U.S.N.A.

               Commanding Officer, Base Section 3,

                    Line of Communications,

                         American Expeditionary Force.

Subject:-  Aeronautical Liaison between U.S. Army and Navy.

1.        Inasmuch as Naval and Military Aviation are very closely allied and with a view to eliminating duplication of requests to the British Admiralty for information on this subject, it appears highly advisable to establish Aeronautical Liaison between our respective Headquarters.

2.        If, therefore, you concur with me in this view of the situation, I will detail an officer from this office who will, in addition to his other aviation duties, act as Aeronautical Liaison Officer to your Command.

3.        In return, if you think it to our mutual interests to do so, I will be pleased to have you nominate a similar officer in your office through whom all matters aeronautical may be transmitted.

WM. S. SIMS.       

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Pending the reception of the reports which I have called

for and which will assist me in clearing up this difficulty please accept my high admiration of the splendid work which your Aviation Service is performing and which I feel confident it will continue with credit to all of us.

          With my kindest personal regards and best wishes for your continued success.

Very truly yours,                 

WM . S. SIMS.           

Vice-Admiral, U.S. Navy.

General John J. Pershing, U.S. Army,

American Expeditionary Force,

Office of Commander-in-Chief, France.

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2. It will be understood that this correspondence has been of a purely personal character.

s.   W. A. EDWARDS.

By Direction.

Source Note: Cy, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517B. Identifying number in top right-hand corner in columnar fashion: “1/3/G/J.”

Footnote 1: Maj. Gen. John J. Pershing, Commander, American Expeditionary Forces.

Footnote 2: On 17 May, Sims asked Cone to prepare a comprehensive statement of cooperation, which Cone sent Sims on 22 May 1918. A copy of this document can be found in ibid.