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 Rear Admiral Henry B. Wilson, Commander, United States Naval Forces in France

May 31st.1918.

My dear Wilson,

          The plot thickens! Note the following cable:-

     “Board Navy 139. For Stevens from Franklin.1 Referring shipping mission 138 Raymond will nominate agents France and elsewhere through whom shipping control committee will issue instructions to steamers operations for shipping board.

                    BENSON.”2

          I do not know any more about this than what it says. I give you this to illustrate what looks to me like considerable confusion between the various organizationsthat are interested in the handling of shipping. This combined with the shipping people who were here, and Mr.Sherman, and the bunch that came out with Lieutenant Commander Bacon,3 obliges me to say, for the present at least, that I give it up!

          Apparently there is nothing for you and me to do at present but have patience until we can find out just what the intentions of all these activities are. In the meantime of course, we will go ahead doing the best we can to turn around ships in England, France and Italy.

          Referring to your personal letter of May 23rd.4 concerning two messages received from the Admiral at Queenstown, I sent you a cable to the effect that the enclosures you mention whener where not with the letter.

          I have just heard through Queenstown (I assume through the Valencia wireless station) that the PRESIDENT LINCOLN was torpedoed somewhat west of latitude 15. At present time I do not know any details. A little bit later we were informed that an intercepted message stated that the ship sank in about an hour.5 I sincerely hope the weather was good and that there were no casualties.

Very sincerely yours,        

W S SIMS      

Source Note: TL, DLC-MSS, William S. Sims Papers, Box 23. Addressed below close: “Rear Admiral H.B.Wilson, U.S.N./B r e s t.” Document reference; “1/5/J.” Document is from: “Admiral Sims’ Personal File.”

Footnote 1: Raymond B. Stevens, United States Shipping Board and United States Representative, Allied Maritime Transport Council, and Philip A.S. Franklin, Chairman, Shipping Control Committee.

Footnote 2: Adm. William S. Benson, Chief of Naval Operations.

Footnote 3: L.H. Shearman, was a member of Raymond B. Stevens’ staff, and Lt. Cmdr. Daniel Bacon, U.S.N.R.F.

Footnote 4: The letter referred to has not been found.

Footnote 5: For more on the sinking of the President Lincoln, see: Sims to Pringle, 2 June 1918.

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