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 22nd. 1918.    

My dear Pringle,

          Your letter of May 17th.1 just received with the clipping from the NEW YORK SUN telling us how the Naval Academy has prevented the Navy from going ahead.2

          Mr.Chapple3 returned here yesterday in a very highly enthusiastic state concerning the conditions at Queenstown, the MELVILLE, the MELVILLE’s captain,4 the Officers Club, Admiral Bayly,5 and so forth and so forth. He is a sort of human dynamo. I have taken pains to load him up with an unusual amount and variety of propaganda dope, and he is about sailing for the United States to blow it off on the other side.

          It certainly is a good stunt that you do with these newspaper people, but I can assure you that I believe it is very well worth the trouble. He told me all of the things he was going to tell the Secretary6 and the rest of the “principal dignitaries” when he got back. The only fear is that he will be so enthusiastic about it that they won’t believe half he says.

          I have just said goodbye to Church7 who is leaving this afternoon for Liverpool. I think it is an excellent scheme sending him over. He also delivered to me your message about the force in Queenstown. He seems to think you were worrying about this unduly. Please do not do so. When things like those referred to in my letter8 reach me, I at once assume that you would of course want to know about it. You know as well as I do that the man at the top is likely to be the last man informed about such things. Also that if the information is received in time it would be comparatively easy to take measures to counteract the difficulty. You must not think that I assume that things are as bad there as have been reported. In my opinion the condition of affairs at Queenstown is better than that of any institution or place that I have ever known of. But the point is, that, if possible, measures should be taken so that there will not be any gossip of the kind indicated.

          You know of course, as well as I do, that if gossip like that gets started, and if it is believed, the person or place gossiped about gets just the same kind of reputation as though the statements made were entirely true. The point about the whole business is that what we would like to have would be such a condition of mind on the part of all hands, and such a loyalty to the whole organization, that there would not be anybody who would make statements such as those in question.

          Church told me that you were writing to me on the subject.9 In the meantime don’t give yourself any unnecessary worry about this matter. Above all things don’t imagine for a second that I don’t believe that you are the most competent man of my acquaintance for the very difficult billet that you are holding down.

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.”

Footnote 1: This almost certainly refers to a letter dated the 16th. See: Pringle to Sims, 16 May 1918.

Footnote 2: It is not clear what article Sims is referring to.

Footnote 3: Publisher Joe Mitchel Chapple.

Footnote 4: Sims is probably referring to Cmdr. Henry B. PriceMelville’s executive officer. Since Melville served as Pringle’s flagship, this might also be a reference to Pringle himself.

Footnote 5: Adm. Sir Lewis Bayly, R.N., Commander, Southern Ireland.

Footnote 6: Secretary of the Navy Josephus Daniels.

Footnote 7: Cmdr. John G. Church had asked to be released from Sims’ staff to work for the Bureau of Steam Engineering.

Footnote 8: See: Sims to Pringle, 16 May 1918.

Footnote 9: See: Pringle to Sims, 20 May 1918, in which Pringle denies the allegations of alcohol use and immoral behavior by officers at his station.

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