Naval History and Heritage Command

Naval History and Heritage Command

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

 

UNITED STATES NAVAL FORCES

OPERATING IN EUROPEAN WATERS.

U.S.S. MELVILLE, FLAGSHIP.

8 November, 1917.

My dear Admiral:

     Forwarded herewith are the copies of Confidential General Instructions1 drawn up by Admiral Bayly2 for issue to all ships under his command. This compilation, I think, grew out of my efforts to get something of the kind put together, but I had nothing to do with its preparation. There are included therein some extracts from the tentative doctrine prepared by Johnson,3 and the first part of the paper follows very closely the lines of Admiral Bayly’s original address to Destroyer Captains.4 Admiral Bayly asked me to print the Instructions for him, which I accordingly did, and furnished him with copies for ships based elsewhere than here. I also made a number of extra copies which I am holding subject to your decision as to whether you wish to use them or not. As Admiral Bayly has gotten this pamphlet out, I see no use in my attempting anything more along these lines for the present at least, and shall not take any further steps unless you instruct me otherwise.

     Courtney5 left yesterday in charge of the escort for Troop Convoy #10. On Monday (5th) Admiral Bayly, Courtney and myself had a conference on board here and discussed every detail in connection with the operation, and particularly Courtney’s proposed distribution of the destroyer escort after contract [i.e., contact].6 Admiral Bayly approved of Courtney’s proposed arrangement and I think it was a good move to have had the conference as each of us feel more satisfied than we would have felt had we not discussed it. If it can possibly be arranged, I will try to do the same thing with every troop transport man.

     We were all very sorry to get the news of the ALCEDO and I would be very glad to hear whether Conn was saved or not. He has a number of friends down here.7

     There seems to be some general condition of unrest in this country8 now, but it has not as yet, manifested itself here and I do not think that it will ever become very serious in this immediate locality.

Very sincerely yours,        

(Sgd.) J. R. POINSETT PRINGLE.    

Source Note: Cy, DLC-MSS, William S. Sims Papers, Box 79. Address below close: “Vice Admiral Wm. Sims,/LONDON.”

Footnote 2: VAdm. Lewis Bayly, R.N., Commander, Naval Forces, Southern Ireland.

Footnote 3: Cmdr. Alfred W. Johnson, commanding officer, Conyngham. For Johnson’s proposed doctrine, see: Suggestions for Improving Convoying, 27 September 1917.

Footnote 5: Cmdr. Charles E. Courtney.

Footnote 6: See, 29 September, 1917, Destroyer Ships Files: Rowan, DNA, RG 45, Entry 517B.

Footnote 7: Alcedo was a converted yacht purchased by the U.S. Navy. She gained fame on 24 October when she rescued 85 survivors from the Antilles, before being sunk herself less than two weeks later. A single torpedo blasted through her port side on 5 November, and she disappeared beneath the waves minutes later. Despite the rapid sinking, only one officer and 20 sailors died. The rest, including commanding officer Lt. Cmdr. William T. Conn, Jr., took to lifeboats and reached France safely. DANFS.

Footnote 8: The destroyer flotilla was based at Queenstown, Ireland.

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